I truly loved this interview on the Cosmopolitan website. It’s possibly the most radical thing about fat women I’ve read in a mainstream women’s magazine. Claire over at A Monkey Fatshionista suggested chubster bloggers also answer the questions in their own words, if only to sort of… prove that the women in the interview aren’t extreme exceptions, and that many fat women also have exciting, fun, liberated lives. So here’s mine!
How do you feel when other women around you complain about feeling/being fat?
I feel bad for them, but not too bad. Obviously some women suffer from eating disorders and body dysmorphia but on the whole it’s just women buying into the myth that fat is bad and that if they’re fat they’re necessarily unattractive and unworthy. And that’s something I find incredibly hard to relate to because I don’t really have friends that talk like that. Complaining about ‘feeling’ fat is the worst, because… what does that even mean? What characteristics ‘feel’ like fat? Because if you mean ugly and lazy then I basically have no time for you.
How has your body image changed since high school? College?
It’s improved massively. Having better friends as I’ve got older has made a big difference. University was the worst because I seemed to have more people with negative body image around me than anywhere else, which was a shame. High School was actually ok, really, because I was lucky enough to go somewhere where you were mostly left alone and left to be yourself (unless you were queer, lol).
Have you tried dieting? What happened?
I have indeed. I lost like… 40lbs in about 7 or 8 months the year I tried really hard, but to be honest my life was so different then: I was 17, so I couldn’t socialise in alcohol-serving places (the town I went to school in is super super vigilant on ID-ing kids) which meant I wasn’t drinking alcohol, I was living with my family which meant my mum prepared most of my meals for me and could mostly make sure I wasn’t ‘cheating’, I would finish school at 3:45 so I could get in the gym before all the work bros would get there and hog the equipment. I genuinely think banal factors like that enormously effect whether or not a diet will ‘work’, but more than anything it’s because back then I genuinely believed I wouldn’t be happy unless I wasn’t fat anymore. Now I know better, which means I’m much less invested in dieting and without that fear motivating me it’s unlikely a diet would ‘work’ in any meaningful way.
Do you think in your case your weight is partly or entirely genetic?
I don’t know or really care.
Do you consider yourself healthy? Have there been instances where people assumed you were unhealthy?
I’m healthy in that I’m not ill, but I’m not as fit as I could be (but to be honest, even most thin people I know don’t do physical activity). But saying ‘it’s ok to be fat as long as you’re healthy’ is so problematic it’s almost not worth engaging with: why is it ok to exclude people on the basis they’re not healthy? Illness and disability are not something to be ashamed of and excluded for, whether you’re fat or not.
Are your parents both supportive of you at the weight you’re at? Have they always been?
Alas, my parents read my blog and I would feel weird talking about it, but let’s say on the whole, now, they’re fine about it.
How do you think retailers can improve clothes for plus-size people?
D I V E R S I T Y. If you don’t want a hyper-feminine or retro style, it can be quite hard to find exciting clothes. If you’re butch or masculine or even want something quite trend-led, the selection is seriously limited. Retailers seem to think we want exaggerated female glamour, but I really, really don’t. It feels like whenever a plus-size retailer attempts to reproduce something from the catwalk or high street, they take away all the features that made me want it in the first place because that’s seen as being ‘too edgy’ for fat girls. But… why?
Do you think plus-size women are judged differently than plus-sized men are? How?
Obviously. There are so many ways in which it’s acceptable to be a man, but so few ways in which it’s acceptable to be a woman. TV shows and films feature fat male actors all the time, and even if they’re not extremely fat, they’re still fatter than any actress is allowed to be without being ‘the funny fat actress’. Where are the fat female John Goodmans, Philip Seymour Hoffmans,Craig Robinsons, John C Reilleys, James Gandolfinis etc etc? Men are allowed to be fat and it’s not problematic in a way that women aren’t.
Do you think there’s an assumption made/stereotype that exists about plus-size people? How would you respond to it?
Lazy, no self-control, no motivation, ugly, no pals, no dates. I respond to it by subverting it in the ways I want to, without feeling like I need to try extra hard to be a model fatty so that thin people don’t judge me.
Do you think there’s ever a right way or time to express concern about someone’s weight?
No, not really. Maybe ask yourself why you’re concerned, and if the answer is only their weight rather than any other factors around it, then it’s probably best that you don’t say anything.
What are the worst things people have said to you about your body?
I’m sure they’ve been said, but I just don’t retain them in my head… or maybe people don’t say them to my face? Or maybe I’ve been lucky. I don’t know.
What have people said (or do you wish they’d say) that would compliment your body or appearance?
I’m really lucky in that I’m surrounded by incredibly supportive people. Friends and partners alike are extremely vocal and positive about everything from my underarm hair to my body shape.
Do you find yourself hanging out with women who are closer to your size?
Yes, but mostly through and because of blogging. Most of my close friends who I see on a regular basis aren’t fat, but they’re also intelligent, reflexive analytical people who are thoughtful enough to examine the cultural stereotypes, pressures and challenges around fat people and how I’ve had to fight that in order to stay fat and stay confident.
How has your weight affected your sex life, if at all?
It hasn’t, I don’t think.
When you’ve been single, has your weight affected your dating life?
In a weird way, yes it has. For quite a while I believed I wasn’t allowed to date people I was attracted to because, with a whole world of women out there, why would they choose me if I’m fat and being fat is wrong and embarrassing? But as soon as I stopped accepting that as fact, I started meeting people I was actually attracted to, and it turns out a lot of them were also attracted to me.
Do you feel weird if the guy you’re with only dates larger women?
Yeah, it’s gross and I hate it. But that’s partly because the only two guys that I’ve (briefly) dated who consciously prefer dating ‘larger women’ were terrible people. But also because while I don’t want people to be turned off by my fatness, the thought they’re only going for me because of the fat on my body feels pretty creepy and objectifying. I haven’t had any of these problems with the women I’ve dated, by the way.
Do you feel weird if he’s only dated slimmer women before you?
Not really, because it seems as if most women are slim so that’s less surprising. And the mere fact that they’re electing to date me shows they want to, regardless of their past history.
So that it’s not all text, here’s a picture of me eating ice cream while wearing a fat bitch necklace with one of my not-fat bros to show what My Fat Life looks like.
So there you have it! My fat life. My beloved pal Charlotte from Black Heart Creatives (who made the above necklace) has not only filled it in, but has compiled a list of other bloggers who have if you want to read more.