There’s a tired and extremely false narrative that’s still struggling to be rewritten, and it goes a little something like this: if you’re not a size six or have abs, you must be unhealthy.
Associating body size with health is both insidious and backward. People who existed throughout the first dose of the heroin-chic era know just how far we’ve come — and just how far we have to go — when prioritising our well-being over looking a certain way to have currency in society, and, in particular, to be worthy of attraction.
All of these reasons, but the last point in particular, is why Dan Hunjas‘ recent comments on Married At First Sight were so infuriating to witness (and recap).
In case you missed it, Dan said he was not sexually attracted to his wife in the experiment, Sandy Jawanda, at the last MAFS Commitment Ceremony, only to sleep with her for the first time afterwards.
During the same week, the couple sat down with Sandy’s sister and Dan’s friend to discuss their relationship, where Dan expressed his concerns about how “active” Sandy is compared to his six-hour daily runs — an interesting revelation after having sex with someone.
The reason this is so infuriating to me (and likely many others, particularly women) is that if you don’t look like a Lorna Jane model you can be assumed to be less “active” — even if you go to the gym at 5 am every morning.
This is hugely problematic thinking and also, can be very counterproductive for those who have been prioritising their health with regular exercise.
The benefits of exercise and healthy eating can sometimes feel more internal than external and it’s concerning that people stop or have stopped (myself included) when they’re not seeing their stomachs get smaller or their butts get bigger — even though they feel fucking fantastic on the inside.
That’s why when I sit back and watch Dan get angry at Sandy’s “lifestyle”, I’m not hearing that he’d prefer someone who is more active, but rather someone who looks more active.
This commitment ceremony should be interesting. Catch up on We’ve Done The MAFS with @Recovering Party Girl+ @Chantelle Schmidt on Spotify and 9now ahead of tonight. #mafs #mafsaustralia #marriedatfirstsightaustrailia #ptv #wevedonethemafs♬ original sound – PEDESTRIAN.TV
From where I’m sitting and from the experience I have being a woman with a fluctuating body type, it feels like he’s body-shaming her, or at the very least, accusing her of something so he has a reason to skedaddle.
It wouldn’t be the first time a man’s done it, and it certainly won’t be the last.
Dan’s comments come after Love Island‘s Courtney Stubbs alleged that costar Aaron Waters body-shamed and skin-shamed her during their time on the show.
Earlier this year via TikTok, Courtney said Aaron told her he didn’t want to pursue her in the villa, and followed that up by telling her the type of woman he likes.
Enough is enough and it’s time i say my peace #AaronWater #LoveIsland2023 #Bullying #BodyShaming #SkinShaming♬ original sound – Courtney
“He goes, ‘I obviously like when girls take care of their bodies and they go to the gym and stuff like that’,” Courtney said on the TikTok.
According to Courtney, he also made assumptions about how well she looks after herself based on her cystic acne.
“He said to me, ‘I like clean girls. Girls that, you know, who take care of their skin and skincare, and you know, you’re not really into that stuff’,” Courtney said.
“So he was referring to my acne.”
Courtney made these accusations while Aaron was inside Love Island UK villa. He has since denied saying these things to Courtney while on an episode of the Where’s Your Head At podcast, but said he still wants “a girl who takes care of themselves and goes to the gym”.
It’s fine to want a shared interest in health and fitness, that’s not the issue here — the issue is people who hide behind the guise of preferring those who look after themselves after assuming, and deciding, that they don’t based on the way their body looks.
When Dan was telling the MAFS cast about the type of active women he likes during the dinner party, Claire Nomarhas bit back and said it sounded like he was basically describing Sandy, insinuating that Sandy is plenty active and he just wasn’t seeing it.
You could see how fed up Sandy was, realising that Dan had been ignoring what was right in front of him so she could suit the narrative he’s created. It doesn’t help that he was comparing Sandy to his ex-girlfriends on a night out, telling the boys how hot they are and that Sandy was the furthest thing from his type.
Dan’s villain era has arrived. Episode 5 of We’ve Done The MAFS is live on Spotify and 9now and hosts @Recovering Party Girl + @Chantelle Schmidt dissect everything that went down in this relationship.♬ original sound – PEDESTRIAN.TV
We can’t assume why Dan has said the things he’s said to Sandy (such as “when I’m running, I’m only running with people who can keep up with me”), but when there’s a long-winding expectation of women to be “thinner” and “cleaner” if they want to be accepted in society, it sure does make you think.
Of course, things have changed since the late 90s and early 00s where it was all about being “thin” and how now it’s all about being “healthy”.
But in the eyes of the male gaze, do those terms just mean the same thing?
Chantelle Schmidt is a freelance writer and host of We’ve Done The MAFS podcast. Follow her on Instagram or TikTok.
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