BEING THE FAT FRIEND.
THESE are my besties. The wildcats, as we call ourselves.
My friends have always been smaller than me. Even through the expected weight fluctuations of adulthood, I’ve remained the biggest one. At times I like the diversity it gives our girl group. It’s a guilty pleasure not having to talk about the everyday struggle of having a FUPA and being fetishized on the regular. However, it also can be a bode of contention.
I’m fairly open and comfortable in my body, so the pantless dance parties and boob comparisons aren’t too much of a problem, and I’m lucky to have friends who support and adore me. But, it goes beyond having different body types. The center of our differences in perspective is how the world and it’s “industries” treat me because of my body. And, to put it frankly, sometimes they don’t get it.
Going to the mall is a straight shooting experience for me. I don’t have much to choose from. My friends, however, can go into nearly every store without hesitation. There are endless options, in style, prices, and colors. While they search for what they’re looking for, I find my way over to the jewelry section (After all, necklaces and rings are usually one size fits all.) When asked, “Where are you, and why aren’t you shopping?”, I awkwardly point at my tummy like, “UM… HELLO.” Then, I end up waiting patiently, and assisting them in their own wardrobe choices, which I don’t really mind. I love fashion, so it’s fun to offer opinions and advice in one of my favorite fields of interest. Now, when its my turn, I don’t have many options. I’m young and a super fatty, so that rules out 70% of plus size stores, which cater to the smaller big girls and the matronly. So that leaves Torrid and Forever 21. I’m so specific about what I wear: Shorts can’t be too short, because my thighs and ass will eat them, and itll have me looking like I’m wearing denim panties (which I prefer not to happen, for outings at least), my crop tops have to be long enough to cover the rolls that I prefer not to show off, as well as several other fashion plights. Plus size clothing isn’t very considerate of the fact that we all aren’t shaped like the flat stomached, roll-less models that are supposed to represent our demographic. Majority of the time, I don’t find what I want, and the intended fun mall trip becomes a self-doubt riddled walk of shame through a corridor between an Orange Julius and a Claire’s.
Granted, dudes ain’t sh*t, anyway you shake it up. My friends and I have all had bad experiences with men, and we talk about it from a common level of understanding. But they see dating & flirting way differently than I do. They talk of making eyes at attractive men from across the room and shooting their shot. They bring up stories of being approached after crowded house parties by guys who’d been staring them down the whole night. But me, I rarely have anything this contribute to these conversations. Dating in LA is tragic enough as it is, so being fat adds an entire set of obstacles. I constantly express that I don’t make the first move. My girls reply with advice for me to “go for it” and “put myself out there.” And the truth is, I’d love to, but the dating dynamics for fat women are extremely disjointed. There so many moving parts involved that you can’t afford to simply “go for it.” Just to name a couple: Firstly, there’s already a disdain toward fat women in the dating game, and you can never tell if a man is fatphobic, or not. The number one fear of men on dating websites is that women are actually fat. To be real, I’m traumatized. I’ve been physically pushed away and rejected for trying to “go for it,” and because of that, a wave of anxiety comes over me at the thought of casually talking to someone I’m into. Secondly, there’s an incessant worry about men being into you to fulfill some fat girl fantasy. It’s sad that not wanting to be abnormally sexualized for having rolls is a “standard” men feel they shouldn’t have to live up to. I’ve experienced both of these, and it’s made me extremely hesitant to let anyone in, and I often turn down gestures of interest because I never know the intention behind it is. Because of this, I prefer dating apps, where I post lots of full body pictures to leave no room for misconceptions. Any dude who matches with or messages me knows I’m plus sized, and I can easily reject those who are “chubby chasers”, BBW lovers, or anyone with a terrible approach. I know my rigid rules end up blocking my blessings, but in this case, I’d definitely rather be safe than sorry.
- Body Image Issues/Insecurities
Like I mentioned earlier, adulthood is automatically accompanied with weight loss and weight gain. Women of every size and shape experience bouts of low self-esteem. So, of course my friends and I vent about what parts of our bodies are giving us grief. Part of me thinks, “If only you knew how many women would kill to have bodies like yours…,” but its unfair for me to deny them their space to express discontentment, so I keep it to myself. But, then I hear a, “I just feel so fat. I need my (insert body part here) to be smaller.” Or when PMS time comes around, and appetites increase, I occasionally hear, “I’ve been eating so much. I’m so fat.” I know their words aren’t intentionally hurtful, but it bothers me. It is perfectly natural for us to have down days when we don’t feel like ourselves and we question our self-worth. But I’d much rather they use words that don’t directly describe me, like “fat.” People fail to realize how problematic it is to use”fat” as a synonym for ugly, lazy, or greedy (of which I am none.) I am fat everyday, 24/7, 365, at my best and my worst. When I feel like the most regal queenly goddess to ever walk this planet, I’m FAT. I don’t want my existence to have a negative connotation because a woman can’t fit into into her pants. Fat is not a “feeling”; it is a descriptor. My smaller friends do not recognize how a simple slip of the tongue could have an effect on me. However, in these instances, I try to remind them that there are more appropriate words to describe their moods.
I love my friends, deeply love and appreciate them. Considering I’m an only child biologically, my friends are like my sisters. I have a bond with them that no one can replace. We are similar in so many ways (I mean, I hope we’d be. You gotta have SOMEthing in common to relate to someone on a basic level to consider someone a friend.) But one thing I love about our friendships is that we understand our differences. My friends know how passionate I am about fat activism, and I try to educate them on my perspective so they know how to accommodate me as I accommodate them.
For the not-so-fatties, if someone in your crew is of the fluffy persuasion, make sure they feel loved, accepted, and treated as equal. Be mindful of their bodies in the necessary situations, and make sure you create a safe environment for them to feel comfortable to be themselves. It is our job to love our friends through all of our qualities, so making sure to keep fatness in mind. Fat girls deserve good friends, too.