The comments started after Christmas one year — on a grey day in January, when I always feel fat, and flat. While we were watching TV, I was unwrapping leftover Quality Street.
Tim, Tim’s boyfriend, looked at the chocolate and then at me. ‘You should be careful,’ he said, poking me. ‘You don’t want to get podgy.’
As he’d known me since we were children, I thought we’d talked about my anorexia. Maybe he didn’t realise how ill I’d been.
‘Ha, ha, very funny,’ I replied, trying to make light of it. ‘Seriously, though, please don’t make that sort of comment. It’s the sort of thing that makes me think about starving myself again.’
Alice Evans claims Ioan Gruffudd (pictured), threatened to leave her if Alice gained weight during their marriage
Tim looked at me in the midriff. ‘Yeah, well. You don’t want to go too far the other way, either.’
The comments went on and on. So it was with agonised recognition that I read actress Alice Evans’s account of her marriage to Liar star Ioan Gruffudd, and how she says he’d threatened to leave her if she gained weight. Alice, who has been criticised for her outbursts about their relationship on social media, said: ‘He told me several times over the years that he couldn’t abide fatties.’
If any of my friends went through this experience with their partners, I’d be screaming: ‘Leave them now!’ But I have, of course, been that confused, broken woman, and I know that the people who really loved me didn’t know how to help.
Someone would occasionally express concern over the fact that I was always on a diet. I was ashamed to admit that I did it for Tim.
Even our mutual friends admitted to me that he was a troubled person and was making me unhappy. But at the time, I only heard: ‘You’re not good enough.’
You see, Tim was tall, good-looking and sporty — he played a lot of tennis and rugby so I had never imagined he would fancy me. Our first kiss was shared at 24 when I was still feeling raw from a breakup. He was generous with compliments, and I fell in love.
‘You’re beautiful, I can’t believe you’re with me,’ he’d say. ‘You look incredible,’ he’d beam, as I was getting ready to go out for the evening.
I’d always felt insecure about my looks and my body. Tim told me that I could be certain of him. ‘You’re perfect,’ he’d say. ‘I can’t imagine being with anyone else.’
Alice (pictured) who has been criticised for her social media outbursts about her relationship with Ioan, said: ‘He told me several times over the years that he couldn’t abide fatties.’
After six months, I was able to relax and let go, both literally and metaphorically. Tim didn’t like it. Cue the ‘podgy’ chat. The negative comments did not end there. Tim loved to criticise my clothes, my job, and my friends.
Looking back, I think Tim was the problem. He was insecure and cruel. He didn’t enjoy his work, yet I loved my job as a journalist, I was good at it — and I cared about it.
I believe he was feeling threatened because he was focusing on looks.
We could be walking to a party, talking normally, and he’d pick a fight. ‘Why are you always like this?’ he’d shout, storming off while I stood on the pavement and sobbed.
I started to believe Tim was right. I was fat and no one would want me. I ate and drank to ease the pain. I begged him not to leave me when he dumped my. It was the best thing he did for me.
Six months later, I felt more like myself. Tim wanted us to get back together. He once again showed me his appreciation. ‘You’re beautiful. I can’t live without you.’
He offered terms and conditions after I agreed to it. ‘If — if — we get back together, I need to know you’re going to work on your body and make an effort to get . . .’ he looked me up and down, ‘healthy.’
Daisy Buchanan (pictured) said she begged Tim to say when he dumped her, although breaking up was the best thing he ever did for her
I felt my spirit sink. I finally realized I had to start a Tim Diet. For a month, I didn’t see him, speak to him, or look at his social media accounts.
At times, my heartbreak felt impossible to handle, but it was the healthiest decision I’ve made
I had a series if disastrous affairs with Tim after Tim. As my 27th birthday approached, I made a promise. ‘I’m going to stop selling myself short. No matter how long it takes, I’m not going to date anyone unless I can be sure they’re decent and kind. Even if it means years of waiting. It will be worth it.’
My husband, Dale, was born the day after my birthday. I was apprehensive about the possibility of receiving critical comments during the first year of our marriage. But he’s only ever been loving.
He never makes me feel like my only function is to look good at his arm. He doesn’t just compliment me — he makes me feel our marriage is a collaboration, and that he wants me to be confident about every aspect of life, not just my body.
Perhaps ironically, I’ve never looked or felt better — now that I feel happy and secure.
Tim was wrong. I didn’t need to lose weight. To be healthy, all I had to do was lose him.
MY FAT BFF TAUNTED ME
Katie Glass, 40, lives near Midsomer Norton in Somerset.
Katie Glass, 40, (pictured), who lives near Midsomer Norton, Somerset, said her ex’s comments about her weight started as backhanded compliments
I am not like Alice Evans. In fact, I’ve never been especially interested in my image. I rarely use make-up and am proud to have more than my looks.
I was shocked to find myself in a relationship that obsessed over my weight. And who, although I wasn’t thin when I met him, berated me about being fat.
My ex’s comments started as backhanded compliments — when I lost weight, he’d praise how much better I looked.
Who wouldn’t like that! Even though it was frustrating when he began policing what I ate — making ‘jokes’ if he saw me eating carbs — I brushed it off.
His negativity grew over time. Soon, his negative remarks about my size became a weapon. He’d compare me to other women and would say he was only attracted to me when I was slim.
I listened. I wanted to look great for him. When he was kind, he’d encourage me to get fit. Together, we started to follow exercise plans and diets. But while he’d fall off the wagon — drinking alcohol or ordering pizza — he’d put me down if I did.
He was not overweight but he saw me to be the problem. Soon, his first response to any issue in our relationship was how I looked. He didn’t do any housework? I was too fat. He was shouting at you. I was too fat. He was drinking too much. I was too fat.
He used the scales in order to justify going behind me to meet other girls. But when I stood up to him — telling him my worth wasn’t based solely on how I looked — he said I was arrogant. His constant pressure had a devastating impact on my health. I began to eat fad diets, and then, because it was so miserable, I started to comfort-eat. I never felt satisfied.
My ex was a bully like many others, and hid his cruelty with concern. Particularly weight is easy to criticise, but you still care. My ex would tell you that he commented about my weight because of his concern for my health. But if that were true, I think he’d have chosen his words more lovingly, rather than shouting at me that I was a ‘fat wh***’ when he was angry.
His cruelty to my weight was part of the reason I ended the relationship. Not because I minded losing weight, which I did when I left him, but because I realised that when you love someone, you don’t make them feel horrendous.
HE SAYS HE’LL LEAVE IF I GAIN WEIGHT
Samantha Brick, 50, has been married to Pascal, 60, a carpenter. They live in Monpazier (South-West France).
Samantha Brick, 50, said her husband Pascal, 60 (pictured) made it clear that he fell in love with her because of her appearance and was honest about refusing to remain hitched to a fat wife
My husband usually brings me a cup herbal tea most afternoons. Nine times out of ten, he will choose the diet brand (it’s a French mint infusion which is supposed to detoxify the system). It’s obvious. I roll my eyes, but I’m accustomed to it. He said that he fell in LOVE with me because I was beautiful when we met in 2007. He was open about his refusal to be married to a fat woman.
This caveat has been a part of our marriage for years. That’s why every morning, I hop onto the scales to check those digits are still being kind to me. Most mornings they are, but if they aren’t, I’ll skip breakfast for a day or two.
While I’m #TeamAlice when it comes to Ioan Gruffudd’s alleged extra-marital behaviour, I don’t see anything wrong in the idea of someone saying they’d be off if their partner gained weight. I know my British friends think I’m setting the feminist movement back. This approach works for me.
Pascal is my personal food coach and personal trainer. He times me when I go for my hike at dawn, offering encouraging words of motivation, such as ‘go faster’ or ‘move quickly’ when I’m almost home. He’s happy to cook my favorite steamed veggies.
I love the fact that I can still wear the same jeans I wore decades ago, even though I am 50 years old. I am proud to say that I have not gained any peri-menopause weight. There was a blip during our attempt to start a family. We had to have fertility treatment. It wasn’t a success, and I struggled to lose the weight I put on from the hormones. At the time, Pascal was extra strict, watching how much oil I’d put onto my salad; one lunchtime, we had a row over if I’d used two or three tablespoons.
His attitude may sound despotic, but it’s pretty much the norm in South-West France. I’ve been out with French girlfriends who routinely check the size of one another’s clothes to ensure they aren’t fibbing about their dress size.
My husband has inherited this ‘fat-ist’ attitude from his mum. My mother-in-law is the best. She’s 80, and in her dressing room there is an exercise bike she uses daily. Her philosophy is: if you’re overweight then you are unhappy.
In French society, everyone compliments (or commiserates) each other’s figure. That’s why I see my husband’s perspective as a gift.
I WISH HE’D STOP MY MIDDLE-AGE SPREAD
Ursula Hirschkorn, 50, lives in North London, with Mike, 46, her husband, and her four sons, ages 12-18.
Ursula Hirschkorn (pictured), 50, who has struggled with her body weight her entire adult life, claimed that her husband never criticises it.
I was shortchanged when it came to will-power. I can’t say no to a second helping, a decadent dessert or one more slice of cake. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire adult life and can now only just squeeze into a size 18.
It doesn’t help that my husband, Mike, never criticises my weight or suggests I do something about it.
Last week, Alice Evans claimed Ioan gruffudd threatened to quit if she gained weight. Although I wouldn’t condone such treatment it made me wonder if it would be better if my other half was more strict. It might help me lose weight if he gave me a push in the ribs each time I reached for the chocolate or cancelled our weekly take-out.
Of course, I’d hate to be married to someone who threatened to leave, but perhaps my husband is too kind. Is it possible for him to serve me some reality about my weight, and my health instead of his famous spaghetti bolognese
He may keep his mouth shut, perhaps because he knows that the truth could hurt me.
Years ago — during a row — he said he didn’t fancy me as much because I was fat.
He later said he didn’t mean it, but my reaction taught him silence on my weight was best.
As I look at my middle-aged spread, though, I wonder if a marriage to a fitness fanatic who would keep an eye on me size would have been better. Should I have chosen a man who would rather bring me a biscuit than expect me to be his Ironman partner?
Unfortunately, for my waistline at minimum, I am stuck with a man who loves and cares too much about me to be able to boss me around or wade in. I suppose that means it’s down to me to take responsibility for losing my flab.
A MAN WHO INSISTS YOU HAVE A WEEKLY WOIGH-IN IS ENOUGH FOR ANYONE TO GO TO THE HOBNOBS
Kate Spicer (52), is a writer who lives in West London, with her 47-year-old boyfriend.
Kate Spicer, 52, (pictured) said men who can’t sustain interest beyond those fertile, slender years are shallow — a waste of a woman’s time
I’ve been trying not to swear so much lately, the goal being to save my verbal armour for when it is truly warranted.
However, if a man ever asked, told or even politely suggested I lose some weight, I’d pepper him with four-letter bullets. I can’t imagine there is any other answer to give.
Ioan Gruffudd married Alice Evans when she was a young, beautiful actress. Now she’s a beautiful 50-year-old woman who no longer fits into sample-sized dresses, he appears to have dumped her for a 29-year-old.
It is not right to ask your partner to lose weight, but to limit it to the size of a starlet is basically saying, “I want you to look like a woman in magazines.” For ever.
The person who tells you not to get fat should be your friend in the struggle of living. They treat you like a car that must be perfected for their friends to admire. They want to be a status symbol.
Women aren’t designed to look like coltish 14-year-olds into their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. And men who can’t sustain interest beyond those fertile, slender years are shallow — a waste of a woman’s time.
I grew up in a family with a fair number of fatphobes and if I erred on the chubby side there would sometimes be the odd comment, a certain awareness you weren’t up to par.
Subsequently, I’ve dated the odd guy who liked and fancied me but would never consider going public with me.
One told me he’d never go out with me ‘properly’ because I wasn’t ‘hot’; another simply started seeing a 25-year-old who wore Herve Leger bandage dresses without really telling me it was over.
I can empathize with Alice Evans. It is about the objectification of a human being; you only have value if you meet certain beauty standards.
When we are experiencing difficulties in our lives, many people resort to comfort-eating. How much we eat and how much we weigh is directly related to our mental health, socio-economic status, and our ability to sleep.
So, gents, perhaps ask: ‘Are you OK?’ rather than insisting on a weekly weigh-in. Living with a man like this is enough to make anyone want to buy a Hobnob.
A man who can’t take those natural fluctuations and love you for who you are deserves both barrels of all the four-letter words. What a ****!
- To protect identities, some names have been changed.