What Being a Fat Woman is Really Like
Cosmo has done a couple of fat-positive articles lately. Don’t be misled – Cosmo still sucks. They want fat women listening to their shitty message. That doesn’t earn them a cookie.
BUT. One recent feature, “What Being a Fat Woman is Really Like”, was an interview with two anonymous self-identified fat women. Fat bloggers all across the web have taken up the questions and answered them themselves.
There’s a list of participating bloggers here, and I’m going to add my voice to the stream as well.
Feel free to ask more questions in the comments. Here’s your chance to ask a fat woman about what it’s really like!
How do you feel when other women around you complain about feeling/being fat?
Is someone doing that diet-type small talk, like, “Ooh, I shouldn’t have had that second helping, my belly is huge!” while patting their tiny belly and giggling? Then I think, “Have some fucking tact,” and I want to punch them in the fucking face.
On the other hand, I was once present when a skinny woman had a bit of a freakout over how “fat” she had gotten recently. All I felt was great compassion for her. Being skinny doesn’t insulate you from the force of body hatred in our culture. Being skinny doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to express the effect that culture is having on yourself and your view of your body. When a skinny person talks about how they feel about their body, I do wish they would NOT use the words that describe MY body and not theirs. But, I get it. I do. I am a much better ally for that freaking out skinny person that the people who stood around her going, “Oh no! You’re not fat! You’re hot!” which just reinforces the message that fat is bad and that if she gets fat she won’t be hot anymore.
How has your body image changed since high school? College?
I had a terrible body image in high school. I was a cheerleader, and at a size 9 I was one of the fat ones.
I got a lot more comfortable with my body in college. I was starting to get bigger, and I was exploring my sexuality and fashion style. I was still somewhat self-conscious about my size, but I could usually set that aside.
Have you tried dieting? What happened?
As my weight gradually climbed through my 20s, I definitely dieted. I started to feel upset about my weight. I didn’t do fad diets, but I frequently did calorie counting, calorie restriction, and exercise.
I’m fortunate that my bouts of calorie restriction usually never lasted long, so I didn’t do a lot of yo-yoing. I had only one diet that was “successful” (haha!). I lost 30 pounds and then, of course, gained 50. Right after that I decided to stop hating my body, and I haven’t dieted since then.
Do you think in your case your weight is partly or entirely genetic?
This is a bullshit question. When someone tells you why they think people are fat, all you can tell is what their own pet projects are. People who hate GMOs blame “obesity” on GMOs. People who hate processed food blame “obesity” on processed food. I’m not a geneticist, and I’m not going to make guesses about that. Besides, it doesn’t matter. For whatever reasons, I’m fat. It’s okay for that to stand on its own without digging into why.
Do you consider yourself healthy? Have there been instances where people assumed you were unhealthy?
I do not currently consider myself healthy for reasons that have to do with both my mental health and my physical health. I think people who know me have tended to assume I’m healthier than I am. It’s only been in the last few years that I have opened up about the ways in which I am unhealthy.
Are your parents both supportive of you at the weight you’re at? Have they always been?
In college when I was first getting comfortable with my body, I wore shirts that let a hint of belly show, and I was getting a bit of a poofy belly. My mom commented on that in a derogatory way. She asked if it was some kind of new fad to show off your belly even though it was getting fat. It won’t surprise you to know that I developed a habit of compulsively covering up my stomach that has been hard to break.
How do you think retailers can improve clothes for plus-size people?
That’s easy. Take those exact same clothes that you make in straight sizes and make them in plus sizes. Don’t add any more ruffles. Don’t add any sequins. Don’t add a floral print. Don’t add elastic. The. Same. Fucking. Clothes. But bigger! See?!
Do you think plus-size women are judged differently than plus-sized men are? How?
Our culture polices women’s bodies harder than men’s bodies. In all the ways.
Do you think there’s an assumption made/stereotype that exists about plus-size people? How would you respond to it?
There are a lot of stereotypes about fat people, and I’ve covered a lot of them here before. Lazy, undisciplined, eat too much, unhealthy, ugly, stupid, slow, oversexed, undersexed, trying-to-hard, “great personality”, sad, happy… some of the stereotypes even contradict. We can’t win, although I do frequently rant about it.
Do you think there’s ever a right way or time to express concern about someone’s weight?
No. If you are worried about someone – for whatever reason – you can make yourself available to them and make yourself a close and trusted friend, so that they feel free to come to you if they are having problems and need help. If they don’t make it your business, don’t make it your business.
What are the worst things people have said to you about your body? How did you respond?
No one has said anything really negative about my body since high school, except for Reddit trolls in my inbox.
Sometimes people say things about my body that another person would be uncomfortable with, but I miss it because I don’t feel bad about my body. For example, I had a doctor once ask me if I had any unwanted hair, and I said no. A few questions later, I realized she was going down the PCOS/hypothyroidism checklist of questions. I said, “Oh! That hair question. You want to check the yes box. I have a lot of hair in a lot of places for a woman. But it isn’t unwanted hair!” She laughed and changed the answer.
Comments about fat are kind of the same way. I get emails telling me I’m fat. Sometimes they use food words to describe me, or animal words. Hamplanet is a common one. Is that supposed to be an insult? I think it’s pretty funny imagery. Sometimes they call me a pig. Uh… I love pigs!
What have people said (or do you wish they’d say) that would compliment your body or appearance?
Unless I’m in costume, I don’t want compliments on my appearance. What I look like is just… what I look like. I don’t have a whole lot to do with it. I’d rather get compliments on something that I try hard to succeed at, like parenting or blogging.
Do you find yourself hanging out with women who are closer to your size?
No. I have friends who are fatter than me and friends who are skinnier than me.
How has your weight affected your sex life, if at all?
It didn’t for years, but I have gained some weight and changed shape some since Dylan was born. That has required some positioning adjustments.
When you’ve been single, has your weight affected your dating life?
I haven’t been single or “dating” since college. I’m more into fucking my friends, and my weight isn’t much of a factor there. Presumably there are people out there who don’t want to fuck me because of my size, but I hope they continue to keep it to themselves.
Do you feel weird if the guy you’re with only dates larger women?
No. 65% of Americans are fat. It would be easy to only date fat people. I wouldn’t want to date someone who fetishized my fat.
Do you feel weird if he’s only dated slimmer women before you?
No. Most people are slimmer than me!
And that’s that for the Cosmo questions. What do you think? Want to read more about the experience of being fat? Don’t forget to read the other bloggers’ answers to these same questions.
(Affiliate links ahead!) You can also check out Fat Chicks Rule!: How To Survive in a Thin-Centric World for a “fun, fact-filled guide to living the big girl’s life with style” or any of the other books on my Fat Acceptance Books list.
Do you have any questions of your own?