I’ve noticed a few bloggers lately doing their own take on the Cosmopolitan article, ‘What Being A Fat Woman Is Really Like’. I have been thinking about it constantly, therefore I must join in. I’m not sure who came up with the idea of answering the questions ourselves, but I think Claire was the one who got a group of people to participate on Twitter. In typical Charlene fashion, I missed that. But I’m still going to answer these questions because I think it was a great idea and I feel like the general public need to hear from real fat women, rather than making assumptions like a lot of people do.
Myself and other fat people would appreciate people reading this from our points of view. So here’s my answers:
How do you feel when other women around you complain about feeling/being fat?
Enraged and full of shame. People act like being fat is more shameful than being a serial killer. Talking about diets around me, a fat girl, feels like you’re hinting to me that I should be on a diet. I hear women of a “healthy” BMI, talking about how fat they are and just think “Wow, I bet I’m the type of person they’re vowing never to end up like.” It makes me feel so much bigger, yet so small. Hopeless would be an appropriate word.
How has your body image changed since high school? College?
It has, for the worst. I always hated my body, but now its more than I thought humanly possible. I was, on average, a short size 12 in school, and would occasionally move to a size 10 or 14. Now I’m still short and barely fitting into my size 16’s. I try my hardest to accept myself, but I just can’t. In fact, I’m depressed to the fact I’ve considered suicide a few times because of my appearance. I’ve become a hermit because I’m so ashamed of being fat in public. The annoying thing is, if it wasn’t for society’s view on being overweight, I would be totally fine with how I look. But sadly, I’ve been a victim of endless bullying, abuse and harassment because people can’t accept fat people as human beings.
Have you tried dieting? What happened?
Yes…. Diets, dangerous pills, OA, throwing up – I’ve tried it all. I feel so stupid for it. I diet, I mess up, I binge. I know “Shame on you, fat girl, for eating actual food.” I’m always dieting. If it doesn’t work, I can’t work with it. If one particular “food plan” is suggested to me once more I’ll scream. I followed the food plan religiously and it didn’t work. But stupid me was pressured into doing it again – and again it failed me. Why I repeat things I know don’t work to make others happy, baffles me.
Do you think in your case your weight is partly or entirely genetic?
I think it’s genetic. My mother used to have a weight problem before I was born. She thinks she’s fat but she’s just body dysmorphic. I know some family members on my mothers side have had problems with their weight, but of course, I have to be the one with the “unhealthiest” height to width ratio.
Do you consider yourself healthy? Have there been instances where people assumed you were unhealthy?
Apart from a history of iron deficiency and hypothyroidism I’m pretty healthy. I get sick sometimes but just colds etc. My cholesterol and blood sugar levels are perfect, yet people still tell me “I’m worried about your heart”. The only way my heart would fail is from roller derby (I’m so unfit), or from the stress put on me to get to a “healthy” weight. Newsflash: Skinny people can be unhealthy too!
Are your parents both supportive of you at the weight you’re at? Have they always been?
My family in general won’t accept that I’m overweight. If they’re not commenting when I’ve lost weight they’re talking about “this miracle weight loss trick”, and its pretty fucking upsetting. I wish they knew how seriously their comments affected me. My mother knows, but only because I utterly freaked out and told her how its affecting my life. She had just told me she started a new diet, and naturally it felt like a “You should do this diet”. She hasn’t really brought up weight since.
How do you think retailers can improve clothes for plus-size people?
I think there should be more plus size mannequins, and models. I’m talking models like the beautiful Aimee Tink & Tess Munster, not some 6ft size 10-12 with abs & a thigh gap. Lately retailers seem to be doing a great job of introducing larger clothes. I hope to see more wide calf boots in my future that don’t cost as much as a weeks rent!
Do you think plus-size women are judged differently than plus-sized men are? How?
In a way. They seem to have more normal sized women in ads and movies, but with men it can be more diverse. Think of any ads that involve summer holidays. There’s always a tiny woman in a bikini, and if its a men’s holiday its beer and that tiny woman’s 20 clones. Other than that, we are treated crap regardless of gender.
Do you think there’s an assumption made/stereotype that exists about plus-size people? How would you respond to it?
I do think plus-size people get treated like aliens by the public. People, even doctors, think we’re lazy space-wasting slobs. They assume that we do nothing but diet and eat, and that we never exercise. In roller derby I feel like people are in shock that there’s a fat girl doing actual exercise. It makes training hard because I feel as if spectators are staring at me and laughing at my unfit panting.
I respond to these stereotypes by shopping and eating in stealth mode. If someone looks at my shopping trolley I glare, or get away from them as fast as possible. I make excuses if I am seen with food, and try to avoid stopping to take a breath during exercise. I’m a true example of damaged goods!
Do you think there’s ever a right way or time to express concern about someone’s weight?
If you’re a doctor and the person actually shows clear evidence of an obesity related illness. Assumptions just aren’t good enough, no matter how overweight a person is. A great article on this is The 5 Stages of Grief, As Experienced Upon Reading Another Example Of A Doctor Fat-shaming An Obese Patient.
What are the worst things people have said to you about your body?
I can’t pick just one thing. There have been things as simple as pointing at me, making farting noises (fat people fart just as much as anyone else), to the ever so unique “you’re fat” comment. There was a name given to me when I was a teenager, which is too hurtful to repeat here. My “best friend/bully” at the time made it up and eventually, people I’d never even spoke to would shout it at me on the street. It caused me to leave school and get into a physical fight with my friend. I was so insecure.
I also had a boyfriend who used to spit in my face and make jokes about my weight, and another who started a campaign against me while insulting my weight, because I told him to respect my personal space after we broke up. Surely that was uncalled for?
One day, I was happily walking down the street, when two boys were walking towards me. One of them just said “God, you”re ugly, and went about his day…. like it was fucking nothing! This is why I have depression.
How did you respond?
Ugh… Sadly my response is to get angry and upset. I screamed at a bunch of kids who were mocking me, attacked my bully, and threw a bottle at the guys who made farting noises while I was on holiday. I’m not a very patient person as you can see.
What have people said (or do you wish they’d say) that would compliment your body or appearance?
People have complimented how I dress, and how my hair looks, but I wish that they’d compliment my body without me having to lose weight!
Do you find yourself hanging out with women who are closer to your size?
I don’t actively choose fat friends, but I am distant when it comes to making friends with smaller girls. I don’t mean to be, I just have trust issues as a friend betrayed me with a guy in the past, so unless the girls have proved themselves to be genuine, I feel awkward being friends with them. I’m more open minded lately, after a fat “friend” started seriously flirting with my boyfriend. I discovered size doesn’t make a girl any less slutty.
How has your weight affected your sex life, if at all?
Yes, I’m really embarrassed getting naked or wearing sexy underwear. Also when my boyfriend touches my stomach I have a meltdown, even though he tries to assure me he’s not disgusted by it. He’s a lovely gorgeous amazing guy. I wish I wasn’t so insecure and hesitant with him. But its just who I am. Also, that ex who launched a campaign against me – he forced me to do things with him when we were 15. So between him and the other ex, I’m surprised I haven’t joined the nuns.
When you’ve been single, has your weight affected your dating life?
Absolutely. I would never tell a guy I was interested because I was certain I’d be rejected. Even at times when I would be getting along with a guy in a club, if he asked me back to his, I’d run for my life. I’d worry that once he saw my body he’d freak out. Though I also never liked the idea of one night stands.
The only reason I spoke to my current boyfriend, is because I really liked him and if I didn’t get him, someone else would. Thankfully I decided to risk everything and actually talk to the guy. One thing led to many others and eventually he asked me out. I was in shock. That didn’t stop me thinking I wasn’t just a girl he went to on nights he didn’t pull, though. I had to learn that he was trustworthy and not a scumbag. I later discovered that, when I was too shy to talk to him, he thought I thought I was too good for him.
Did I mention he’s attracted to me? (or so he says…)
Do you feel weird if the guy you’re with only dates larger women?
Nope, in fact I’d love it. What’s better than having a guy who’s type is women who are closer to how I look?!
Do you feel weird if he’s only dated slimmer women before you?
My boyfriends ex is a bikini model and it causes me endless grief. Thankfully he says he can’t stand her. But I still worry he might look at her provocative photos. (Look, don’t touch is an okay rule – unless its his ex!)
Here’s a list of other ladies who’ve answered these questions.