Have you ever heard something along the lines of “you’re pretty for a big girl” or “you should lower your standards because you’re big”? How did it make you feel?
As a plus sized woman (I’m a size 14-16), my weight has fluctuated throughout my adult years, with my smallest being a size 10. I’ve always embraced being curvy but I didn’t always love being bigger. Here’s the thing: my older sister has the stats of a model. She’s 5’10 and hovers at 135-140lbs. Her nickname in high school used to be “Tyra”. Yes, THAT Tyra. Growing up around her felt like a constant reminder that I’d lost in the genetic wars.
I was a precocious kid who loved ballet and hip hop dance classes, studying, reading, and the performing arts. I also stopped growing at 5’5 and my weight hasn’t been lower that 165lbs since I was 17. Great proportions aside, I was reminded through television, magazines, and family members that I was big. Too big. And something had to be done about it.
The human psyche is interesting, or at least mine is. I can acknowledge and bask in my strengths and admirable qualities: I’m smart, a good friend, loyal, a great dancer, responsible, caring. But yet I’ll direct my focus to my one flaw: I’m too big. And the thing with focusing on flaws is that the longer you pay attention to them, the bigger they become until they grow beyond all the good you loved about yourself and all you can see is the one thing wrong with you. Up until fairly recently and through a lot of soul searching, I’ve moved past a lot of the negative self talk women my size and up go through.
But in the age of dating apps, dating coaches with conflicting information, and people on both sides of the body positivity movement, it can be easy to feel less than, as if the skin you’re in is a problem. And without boring or angering you with statistics, I can tell you that thinness is generally viewed as more attractive, particularly among wealthier men. And men on dating apps consistently cite that their biggest fear is that the woman they meet in person will be fat.
If you’re a plus sized, full figured, fat, curvy woman and you want to date, here’s some cold hard things to keep in mind so you can get out there and do it.
- You don’t have problem areas. Your thighs or gut are part of you and unless you have an appointment booked with a surgeon tomorrow, the extra fat isn’t going anywhere. So embrace it.
- Be yourself online. There’s no point only showing your face on dating apps. You’re big? Be proud of it. Have a friend take full body pictures of you doing things you love. Unless you plan on living online and never meeting a prospect in person, you deserve to show who you are – all of you.
- Get used to subtle digs. By friends, by family members, by strangers. It will happen and it’s up to you to decide how to approach them. Should you fly off the handle each time someone says something sideways? Meh. I think embarrassing them is easier by asking them to explain further what they meant. Or by asking “what did you hope to accomplish by saying that to me?” There’s also the subtle dig of completely being ignored. People often treat plus sized women like we’re invisible. Speak up. Make them notice you.
- Wear what makes you feel best and opt for clothing with classic silhouettes. I get the fast fashion fads, I do. But they’re not sustainable, are poor quality, and you end up spending more in the long run as trends go out of style. Try using clothing subscription services like Gwynnie Bee, Infinitely Loft, or Dia&Co for fashionable, higher quality clothing.
- Know that you are someone’s type. Believe it. All people aren’t the same and there are men who don’t only like but prefer fuller women.
- Don’t ever accept substandard treatment. Being fetishized, cheated on, or disrespected isn’t empowering or par for the course in dating. Too often, women feel like they don’t deserve the best because they don’t physically match up to classic good looks or Instagram model proportions. Don’t ever let anyone make you question yourself or gaslight you. Don’t ever be anyone’s secret.
- Don’t be desperate. There’s a part of “big girl/bbw” culture that plays into gross stereotypes by proclaiming that big women will steal skinny women’s men because of cooking, sexual prowess, warm thighs, etc. I hate it and it’s no better than other harmful stereotypical tropes. Additionally, it REEKS of desperate attention-seeking. We don’t do that here. That’s big girl pick me behavior.
- Treat yourself. To nice perfume. To a spa treatment. To a boxing class. To a vacation. To those shoes. To saying “yes” to that date. Life shouldn’t be put on hold simply because you’re not physically where you want to be. Newsflash: No One is where they want to be. And unless you want to walk around as if your body is an apology, you better embrace that life is for the living. And YOU are alive.