He’s a big, lowish-income guy who likes skinny girls: Everything you need to know about men, women and feminism


I mention my friend Marc a lot here — we actually met on OKCupid last summer, went out for BBQ and became fast friends. His daughter is the same age as my kids, we all went to the beach last week and Marc and I talk on the phone all the time – mostly about dating. He’s awesome (any ladies who live in the greater NYC area — preferably Central Jersey — ping me offline if you want more details!), at the same time a normal dude (light beer, college basketball) and a remarkably insightful and self-aware man.

Last night he said something that blew my mind. Marc is currently dating two women – one is a fun, cool social worker who is rather heavy. The other is a skinny, beautiful physician with a tepid personality (I refer to her as The Vulcan – no offense, sweetie!). Both bring out Marc’s insecurities about his income. Marc is a New Jersey public school teacher. You should also know that Marc is a big guy.

Last week he and the doctor went for drinks with her doctor friends. “The whole time I was having an anxiety attack about what they thought about me and my career,” Marc confided.

It should make more sense that he would dig the social worker — who also happens to be tons more fun — right? Wrong. “I know this makes me sound so shallow, but I’m just not that into her physically. I don’t like big boobs.” Say what?!

“That really gets into my insecurities about my income — especially in the tri-state area where guys have all these fat wallets,” Marc said without a hint of shame. “I like to feel like I can take care of a woman. And if I can’t do that with my money, I want to feel like I can do it physically. So I like women who are shorter and smaller than me.”

There you have it. That is everything you need to know about navigating dating, relationships and gender. Men want to feel like they are taking care of us. Maybe it is with lavish sushi dinners and four-bedroom colonials. Maybe it is with remarkable cunnilingus. Maybe it is the sense they could beat off unwanted advances from drunken Colombian World Cup revelers should the need arise. And maybe it is just that they want to feel big and manly when they snuggle us.

Which is exactly why I prefer men who are larger than me. And at least as professionally successful as me. And who — though I may feign disgust — would take down any surly suitors who get up in my grill. I have wrestled with my feelings on this, but Marc’s clear stance liberated me.

This is such tricky business, feminism. If I want to take a bazooka to any glass ceilings, I also have to pay the price that 50 percent of men eventually will earn less than women. Women are making remarkable strides in business, politics and academics — while still maintaining the majority of decisions at home. This trend is both a win and a sacrifice. It’s a sacrifice because I want to feel taken care of –and so do you. And men pay the price because in the absence of any glass ceiling they have 50 percent less opportunity to be the primary breadwinner and rely on that source of feeling masculine.

So we struggle to redefine what “taking care of” means. It can mean many things — around the house, on the dangerous streets of America, and in bed. And the latter is especially powerful for men, who (do I really need to spell this out?) are more sexually inclined and impacted by the visual that we are. In the world we live in, that likely means the woman is physically smaller than the man.

Which perpetuates the skinny ideal.

That is a bummer for chicks like me (and probably you), who are not super-slim. This is a price we pay for our strides in gender equality.

If you’re a big girl, or even a medium-sized girl, do not despair. If you haven’t, please read this manifesto: “I’m 40, fat, single and have no problem getting laid all the time” — a wonderful essay by a 300-lb woman who has mutually fantastic sex with wonderful men on a regular basis. The writer is a testament to how an inner sensual beauty defies body shape and size — and every one of us has the power to harness our own.

Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

15 thoughts on “He’s a big, lowish-income guy who likes skinny girls: Everything you need to know about men, women and feminism

  1. I towered over the boys in high school. If I had been a snob about dating men much taller than I am, I would never have dated anyone (although my husband is taller). My aunt, who is 5’8″, told my husband how much she hates to see tall men with short women, and my husband said she is trying to breed a race of giants.

    All of this is to say that we have preferences, and they are real, but it would be nicer if they weren’t so obvious culturally.

  2. Of course it would be nice, and I personally have found myself attracted to all kinds of men- tiny, giant, wealthy, not-so-much. I’m often surprised to find that I am way, wayyyyy more open-minded than most people.

    And so we are stuck dealing with the realities of these culturally fixed preferences.

  3. I’m 5’11.” One day I found myself seated next to a nice-looking 20-something guy on a flight. He flirted with me the entire flight, buying me drinks and telling me jokes. We totally hit it off and we laughed the whole time. I was sure he was going to ask for my number. (You know what’s coming…). I only wish I could’ve snapped a pic of his expression when I stood up; him, a normal sized 5’8,” and me, with my boobs practically in his face (at least it seemed that way). I’ve never seen anyone grab their luggage and bolt off a plane so fast. I laughed at myself, because I’d known it was coming. People say “guys love tall women!” Yeah, when they’re model thin, maybe. Not the normal-sized ones.

  4. Slim, fat, short, tall, blonde, brunette. There are so many variances that turn guys on or off at a physical level. Some buddies, and my brother, prefer slim and petite. Guys like me prefer curvy with the boobs. I’m also into freckles, which a lot of guys I know seem to find odd. A few guys I’ve known seem OK with 300 pounds, but most, like myself, find it gross. Still, with obesity such a struggle in America perhaps it’s the new sexy.

    I’m only 5′ 8″ so I typically date women that height, or shorter, but I simply don’t bother with taller women because, in my experience, they generally want a taller guy. I wouldn’t have a hang up with a taller woman.

    As for money, I think most women want a guy with a thick wallet they can get their hands into. My own dating of dozens of women over the last two decades has proven this to be true. I’ve dated few women who have offered to pay for a date ever, and the younger they are the more entitled they feel. Women who earn more will only choose “poor” guys if women outnumber them as wage earners to the point that women have to choose a lower wage earner just to have a relationship, or – gulp – a husband. Sure there are exceptions to the rule, but admit it women, you like a guy who can buy. LOL.

    1. Yep, I like a man who can buy. But I don’t need a man to buy my dinner. I do need a guy for all kinds of things — being awesome, loving me and my kids, making me laugh and burning up the sheets with me.

      But you are right – lots of women are money hungry in their pursuit of a guy. That is changing, I think, as women have the power to earn their own money. Do you tend to date losers?

      1. Like anyone, I’ve dated my share of losers and women who are overall OK. One thing all of them had in common was they liked that I make money, own assets, and have no debt except the remainder of my mortgage. It took too many years for me to learn the that most women like men who will help them fulfill their dreams, and their dreams require my money.

        Men like women who will fulfill their sexual fantasies, which most women do during the dating phase, but once married, per most of the married guys I’ve spoken with, the sex spigot runs dry because wifey is “too tired”, “the kids have worn me out”, “my ex husband has emotionally drained me today” – blah blah.

        My best friend gets sex about once every 6th months – partly his fault not drawing a line, I agree – but while he doesn’t get his needs met, his wife has gotten a new car every couple years, a lake house, two kids with all the fixins, and now that he’s signed a legal binding marriage contract he’s stuck, or he loses it all.

        And his wife is no loser, she’s educated, she’s not a horrible human, rather just got her dreams met, and can’t see outside her own dreams to give him a romp in the hay a lot more often to express some appreciation for his hard work.

        I’ve seen the same in my dating life. The longer the relationship lasts, she gets gradually lazier about sex, dresses dumpier, and I get to start hearing the excuses begin. All women I’ve dated seriously do it. Then, if you hint at marriage as a goal they pump it up again because they know a finish line is near with a big prize at the end (my house, my 401K, my savings, my lack of debt, my good salary).

        Marriage sounds like a dream….for women.

        Divorce laws will change drastically as women begin earning more than their husbands. Women will see to it that there are no more “no fault” divorces, so that they have a chance to accuse their husband (often falsely) of “abuse”, or “affairs”, or “addictions”, to keep him from taking half, or more, of her earnings as “no fault” divorce enables wives to get from their husbands now. Higher earning women will see to it that alimony finally, and rightly, is abolished because they won’t want to pay their ex-husbands loads of cash as they’ve seen men have to do for ex-wives. I have a few more decades on me, and I do so look forward to seeing these changes take place as the tables turn on women.

        Remember, it was feminists (and I am not against a woman pulling her own by any stretch) that originated the idea that marriage is a trap. Indeed, perhaps marriage was an oppressive trap for women “back in the good ol’ days”. Now, marriage is definitely a trap for men.

        1. Alimony often benefits the person who made career sacrifices to stay at home raising the children while their partner progressed in earning capability. In California, alimony is gender-neutral. During my marriage, I was basically a single mother while the children’s father worked two jobs (not at my urging, but due to his own workaholic tendencies). Now, at age 54, I am attempting to re-enter a workforce and suffering from the effects of ageism, a faltering economy, and the difficulty of having been out of the full-time workforce.

          1. Lily – there was a period of time when alimony was critical for women who did not have professional and economic opportunity to survive after a divorce. Those days are over. Women have every opportunity for financial independence and if they chose to squander that – ignoring blaring evidence that they will likely be financially responsible for themselves and/or their children and/or current spouse — then they must pay the literal price for that. With opportunity comes responsibility. Your age suggests you are on the edge of that responsibility. Women your age had many financial opportunities but not as many as those just a few years younger (I am 37 fwiw), but far more than those just a few years older.

  5. Well, I was reading the newest article when the title for this one came up, and I must say, I had to read. I remember reading that article with the big woman and it gave me a boost to embrace my sexuality, no matter how many imperfections my body has. I’m here to say that women of all shapes and sizes have a chance with good men. I always use the example of my experience with a guy in a rebound situation. I’m 5’5″, size 4, and won the title “most photogenic” in a beauty pageant. However, the guy was confused and decided to reconcile with his ex who is “big” and even cheated on him. Guys are a strange breed. Everyone says that they’re simple, yet, sometimes they make decisions (like choosing partners) that defy logic, reason or common sense. When I send a message to a man on dating sites, I almost never get a reply. Then I get dozens of creepy looking men messaging me. Nothing about dating makes sense anymore.

    1. So true that the world has changed in so many ways. Social media and digital communication is a huge factor. So is feminism. The latter has been rough on men. We haven’t figured it all out – and guys are left to follow our lead on the matter.

      I appreciate this: “I’m here to say that women of all shapes and sizes have a chance with good men.” Very true. We get in our own ways sometimes.

  6. I’ve been thinking (I know…my biggest problem): If I won the lottery and became a go-zillionaire tonight, would my preference towards small women change? I don’t think so. There’s a tactile side to this that I have no control over. My feelings about this are not based on visual criteria. I’ve been visually attracted to all kinds of women in all shapes and sizes….but when we’re invading each others’ personal spaces, things change. It’s a feeling that is provided by having someone small and therefore physically vulnerable close to me. I like it when a woman has to look up at me when we’re toe to toe. I like to feel her disappear into my arms when I hold her. If anything, it’s fetishistic in nature. And I don’t think it’s only about struggling to erase my insecurity over money. I don’t think it is a learned behavior.

  7. I’ve had a friend that I have known for almost 20 years. She’s a year older than me, but looks young and is very attractive. We never really dated because our personalities didn’t really mesh, but we had kind of a brother/sister type of friendship. She was also very athletic and was an exceptional cyclist, even rode semi-pro for a few years. As such she would very often ride with men that were very active and usually had money. After all cycling can be a very expensive sport and it’s not very many people that can afford the multi-thousands of dollars it takes to maintain a decent bicycle. My friend sometimes confide in me that she would often get marriage proposals from these men, even though she was not even close to being as well educated as they were nor as financially successful. I told her once that the reason was obvious. Men like that who are successful, very active and fit probably get a lot of attention from women — especially if they a bit older — but very few of them can get on a bike and KICK THEIR ASS! You see, I told her, many successful men that are secure in themselves find a woman that can go toe-to-toe with them on something they are passionate about find that very attractive, intoxicating almost. Not so much as in ‘in your face’ attitude, but one that can challenge them and push them to do better and to be better. An equal, if you will.

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