You have possibly been living under a rock if you didn’t notice this Cosmo article doing the rounds this week. I read it and one half of me was like “YES! this type of article is needed.” but the other half? Well why do we have a picture of a skinny girl and a bigger girl having a fight (YES, I know it’s from Glee.) and why haven’t the women who’ve been interviewed been identified by their real names? Are they wanted by Interpol and therefore their real names – or even online names – and pictures can’t be used? It just annoyed me.
But on an anthropological level, I wanted to see what other people would say to the same questions. Would we all experience the same things? Are fat people universally treated and thought of in the same way? But also – it would go to prove that we are all individuals and deal with things in a variety of different ways? So I put a shout out on Twitter and Facebook for people interested in answering the questions and once all the posts have gone up, I’m gonna analyse the answers and see if I can make anything from them. It might go now where or it might be very interesting.
Anyway, onto what you are all here for – my answers:
How do you feel when other women around you complain about feeling/being fat?
It’s become a bit like white noise for me now but if I process it, it annoys me. Not because the people are skinner than me who say it but more because it implies that there is something wrong with being fat – when there isn’t.
How has your body image changed since high school? College?
God yes! I was a size 14/16 at secondary school and felt like a freak. It wasn’t I felt fat, but more that I was ugly. I was more developed than my peers and boy did they let me know about it! I was also more emotionally mature due to personal circumstances and it was made known. I would hide in oversized clothing and hated having my picture taken. But secondary school was 20 years ago now – I would be very unhappy if I hadn’t changed!
Have you tried dieting? What happened?
Of course I have! I haven’t met a woman who hasn’t dieted in some shape or form. But I haven’t dieted in about six or seven years. The year I decided not to have “lose weight” as one of my New Year resolutions was enlightening and I haven’t looked back!
Diets never worked – I just spent the time I was dieting feeling hungry and unhappy and then I’d inevitably fail and then I would just feel unhappy. The only time I have lost weight is when I had glandular fever at 17 and then when I was working full-time and studying full-time at university. I worked in a night club five days a week and would be running around behind the bar – lugging crates of beer etc. around – and living on a diet of shish kebab and diet coke. Basically I ate less and exercised more!
Do you think in your case your weight is partly or entirely genetic?
Without a doubt it’s partly genetic. My maternal granddad’s family were all short and fat. My mum and aunt have followed his side of the family in body shape and so have my brother and I. My sister however has followed my maternal granny’s family shape – she’s big boned, tall and a natural size 16. But I also eat too much and don’t exercise as much as I want. I like food and I’m not very fond of moving of my bag fat arse! But I am never going to be a size 10! That’s not my build.
Do you consider yourself healthy? Have there been instances where people assumed you were unhealthy?
I’m healthier than people think I am! I’m not as healthy as I was a few years ago but I have no issue climbing stairs, running for buses, walking long distances, swimming etc. So yes, I am healthy, but I’m not as healthy as I want to be.
Are your parents both supportive of you at the weight you’re at? Have they always been?
I only have one parent and no – she’d prefer it if I was slimmer. She’s the same size as me and she doesn’t like being that size. She also has mobility issues – which she puts down to her weight and she doesn’t want me to be in the same position at her age.
How do you think retailers can improve clothes for plus-size people?
By letting everyone be able to dress how they want regardless of their size. I must have said this a million places – we are a consumer society so supply should match the demand!
Do you think plus-size women are judged differently than plus-sized men are? How?
No, I think we end up being portrayed the same in media and films – funny ones, stupid ones, butt of the jokes. Look at John Candy, John Goodman, the guy from Lost – always the dummies.
Do you think there’s an assumption made/stereotype that exists about plus-size people? How would you respond to it?
Yes, lazy, thick and unemployed. People have always made assumptions that I’m thick. But it’s not limited to fat people. People will see someone with blonde hair and from Essex and make assumptions. Or who dresses in a certain way or talks with a certain accent.
How do I respond? Depends – sometimes I will prove them wrong. Other times I’ll let them wallow in their own ignorance – I don’t care what they think.
Do you think there’s ever a right way or time to express concern about someone’s weight?
The only time and place that this is acceptable is after numerous medical tests that have proved that someone’s weight has an impact on their heath. Otherwise jog on.
What are the worst things people have said to you about your body?
It’s not what is said it’s the fact they are so bloody predictable! So “fat bitch” – no shit! I’m FAT???!! Or “Look at the size of that?”… yes, well done – I’m bigger than some other women.
I have had some negative comments on Evans and Simply Be Facebook pages – from other fat women! But it’s more like “oh you shouldn’t wear that” “that doesn’t flatter you” “that shows of too much x, y, z”.
How did you respond?
You know the fact someone calls me a fat bitch really doesn’t resonate with me – I’m comfortable with my body but I make sure the person who calls me something abusive thinks twice about ever doing it again.
I pride myself on my quick retorts so I’ve had some classic responses:
- “I can always lose weight but you will always be an arsehole” [said to man who called me a fat bitch].
- “I’m sorry I didn’t realise it was national insult a stranger day; you’re a dickhead” [said to a man who shouted “look at the size of that” when he walked past me]
What have people said (or do you wish they’d say) that would compliment your body or appearance?
I get compliments all the time! About what I wear, how I’m dress, what my hair looks like. I surround myself with only positive people.
Do you find yourself hanging out with women who are closer to your size?
It’s a mix. I have friends who range from size 8 to size 32. I do have fat friends but I’m not friends with them because they are fat. They just happen to be fat as well as brilliant.
How has your weight affected your sex life, if at all?
Nope! Once I get into bed with someone I’m always confident.
When you’ve been single, has your weight affected your dating life?
It did affect me when I was younger. When I was at university, I had a boyfriend for a large part of the time but when I was single I felt people only wanted to sleep with me as a bet or because they assumed because I was fat/ugly I was desperate. But then there was this guy who persuade me when I was in my second year. He worked in a bar I went to a lot and I kept rejecting his advances because I couldn’t understand why he found me attractive. Eventually it took a friend to say to me “he genuinely likes you” and our brief fling he made me feel wonderful in and out of bed!
Do you feel weird if the guy you’re with only dates larger women?
I was discussing this with a friend the other night – and no, I don’t think I would feel weird. There is nothing wrong with someone being attracted to a fat person. It’s no different from someone fancying people with big arms/large breasts/long legs/blonde hair/brown eyes. You need the spark for attraction to work and so what if they fancy your belly rolls rather than your big green eyes – it’s no different.
Do you feel weird if he’s only dated slimmer women before you?
Again no! I’m the biggest woman my husband has been with. He dated a fair few Japanese/Korean women before me who were all tiny but he married me. He was attracted to each of us in different ways.
Don’t forget to check out the other’s answers: