3.06.2014

Cosmo Asks: What Is It Really Like To Be A Fat Woman?

I have seen multiple bloggers, of varies sizes, responding to this article that Cosmo recently posted. To be honest, I appreciated finally seeing this point of view in a such mainstream magazine and since I have put myself into the genre of "plus-size fashion blogging" I figured that you might appreciate my replies to these questions as well. It never hurts to learn more about the person behind the blog.

Image from the original Cosmopolitan post, found here. Photo from Getty.
How do you feel when other women around you complain about feeling/being fat?
This has always made me roll my eyes, because usually this statement comes from someone who would never be considered fat by anyone. I'm only annoyed by it because it's meant in such a negative way and it actually hurts me more to think that someone around me is thinking of themselves so poorly, not so much what they must think of me. The idea of "feeling fat" is weird to me in general because there are times when, yes, I literally feel fat, though most of the time I don't, yet I'm still the same weight either way. So I get why people use it negatively, it just makes me feel bad for them and their apparent low self-worth based on a fleeting feeling.

How has your body image changed since high school? College?
I specifically remember in high school gym class on the first day of the year we'd take the class period for the teacher to check the height and weight of each student to record it for whatever reason and I always prayed that at least one other girl would either be my size or bigger. I was a multi-sport athlete in high school, did musicals, was in dance three times a week, and was in marching band. That's a lot of activity and my mom always made us eat well, so being a bigger girl, frankly, just happened. But in high school I still felt bad about it, like I was doing something wrong, even though I was working out more then most of the girls in my grade. When I got to college though, I pretty much said screw it, as long as I'm living healthy, I'm fine. I also had grown into my curves by then and began to love them and it's been that way ever since.

Have you tried dieting? What happened?
This is like asking if I have ever tried breathing. To be honest, I actually eat really healthy anyway. I drink water like a camel and would rather eat veggies all day than anything else. So although I should cut out more sweets, even when I have done so in the past, very little change has happened.

Do you think in your case your weight is partly or entirely genetic?
I would think mostly genetic. I have no proof telling me either way and I'm not trying to make an excuse, but like I said, for the most part I eat really healthy and am active so I'm sure something else is keeping me from being much smaller.

Do you consider yourself healthy? Have there been instances where people assumed you are unhealthy?
For the most part, I think I am healthy. Could I exercise more? Yes. Could I eat less? Yes. But is my general, overall health fine? Also, yes. Just because I am overweight, does not mean I am not leading an active lifestyle or that I am chalk-full of weight-related aliments. That is my biggest pet peeve about being overweight. People always assume I am not doing something "right." Like you cannot possibly be healthy and be overweight. I have fabulous form in yoga, can ride a bike for days, could kick your ass in a tae bo class, and out dance you in zumba. Don't let my weight fool you.

Are your parents both supportive of you at the weight you're at? Have they always been?
Honestly. I have no idea. I would assume that my weight is one of their much lesser worries, or would hope so anyway. My mom and I always joke around though if she says something like, "how are you still hungry," I'll snip back with, "oh, are you calling me fat?" But that's just in good fun, both parties know the other is joking. My dad has made comments to me before about whether I should or should not wear something a certain way, but I'm not always sure if it's because I might look heavier in it or if I don't look modest enough for his taste. And my mom also hates when I wear horizontal stripes and/or when I belt things around the waist, but again, I think that is more of a personal taste issue, not a problem with their daughter's weight.

How do you think retailers could improve clothes for plus-size people?
I don't understand why this concept seems so hard for retailers to grasp...make the same clothes, only bigger. I hate that everything in the "plus" section is always bedazzled and has crazy floral and animal prints. Those things are okay in moderation, but I really just want to go into a store (not online) and find clothes that fit me and still look like they would if I was a six. Why does everyone apparently think that being plus-size means having no style? I'm not seven years old, I don't want glitter all over the butt pockets of my jeans.

Do you think plus-size women are judged differently than plus-size men are? How?
Yes. Men are allowed to be bigger because it equates to them being masculine or tough. Whereas women are supposed to be small and delicate. Although I don't think that fat men are saved from the societal ideas that they must be lazy if they are fat. MJ is a big boy, so I know that he feels pressure to lose weight too, and it seems like the plus-size male community is slower to act on the inequality in representation than their female counterparts. I feel like as a plus-size woman, I have a lot of support from fellow women my size through fashion and feminist blogs, and I'm not aware of an outlet like that for men.

Do you think there's an assumption made/stereotype that exists about plus-sized people? How would you respond to it?
Of course! Fat people are always considered lazy, dumb, ugly and worthless. And to that I say, take a look at my resume and then tell me what you think. As for being ugly, well, everyone reading my blog knows I have a vain streak so I don't think I have to mention how I feel about that one. And no one is worthless, so if you think fat people are, you've got another thing coming.

Do you ever think there's a right way or time to express concern about some one's weight?
Yes. If you are their doctor and they are literally killing themselves because of their extreme weight gain...or loss. Otherwise, no.




What are the worst things people have said to you about your body?
One of my former college suite mates told me that I'd probably be skinnier and "get more guys," like her, if I ate better. She said this because I was getting a Diet Coke with my dinner one night instead of water. This coming from the girl who literally would sit in front of our TV every night just eating a block of cheese with mustard. 

How did you respond?
Well, I'm not friends with that girl anymore for various reasons. But honestly, I usually let rude comments like that roll off me. This one only stuck with me because at the time I considered her one of my best friends.

What have people said (or do you wish they'd said) that would compliment your body or appearance?
At this point in my life, I feel like I have surrounded myself with the people who only have my best interests in mind, as I do them. So with that comes a level of encouragement that I didn't have when I was younger. In high school, I always felt like I was giving and giving and giving compliments to my friends about their looks and/or talents, but because of my confidence level, they never felt like they had to give that back to me. But in college, most of my friends and random people on campus (mind you, Seton Hill is tiny) often complimented me throughout the day, so I never really feel down on myself about my appearance thanks to the people in my life and an unnatural level of confidence in general. Though it is always nice to hear specific features that people like about me, but if I don't know you very well I might think it was creepy haha

Do you find yourself hanging out with women who are closer to your size?
Umm...no. Do I have friends my size? Yes, of course, but it's not like I only went out in search of fellow curvy ladies. I went out in search of awesome friends, and landed on a whole mess of sizes. Most of my friends are actually a lot smaller than me, I don't see how being all the same size would benefit anyone, unless of course we all lived together and could swap clothes.

How has you weight affected your sex life, if at all?
It hasn't?

When you've been single, has your weight affected your dating life?
In my experience, men seem to be most attracted to confidence, a sense of humor, and general "put together-ness." To be frank, I am not lacking in any of those areas, so no. But, to be honest, I put on more weight in the past four years while being in a relationship, so I was slightly smaller when I was in the dating game.

Do you feel weird if the guy you're with only dates larger women?
Well...do you feel weird if the guy you're with only dates small women? This goes back to fat being a negative, instead of just a physical characteristic. If a guy only dates larger women it seems weird and like a fetish, but if he only dates skinny girls, that's normal. Why is that?

Do you feel weird if he's only dated slimmer women before you?
No. I'm only 24, up to this point I feel like most of my male peers have been told that skinny girls are the only way to go. So I'd feel like if he's only dated slimmer women before me that's because he was a product of society. Which is fine, up to this point. But after you're a twenty-something, if you're still discriminating against women because they're "too fat" something might be wrong with you.

Yay! You made it to the end! That got much longer than I anticipated, so I'm proud and thankful for those of you who read the whole thing. If you have any other questions for me that were not mentioned in this Cosmo questionnaire, feel free to leave them in the comments or send me an email and I can post all those together in a future post! Hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little better! 


18 comments:

  1. I hadn't heard about this article, but I'm glad it's getting attention! There are so many negative connotations for being "fat" that are so untrue! I'm not plus-size, but it's so annoying when super skinny people call themselves fat and say they need to lose 10 pounds every other day. You eat right and are active, so there's no way anyone should say that you're unhealthy or lazy; you're body is yours and I'm glad you own it and have confidence, as you should!
    ~Sara

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    1. Thank you, Sara! It is annoying when really skinny women say they look fat, I just don't understand what is going on in their head when it happens.

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  2. what a fabulous post. i loved reading your thoughts. and for the record, even though i don't know you, i have always thought you were a beautiful, strong, and confident woman. i have never even thought of the words ugly or lazy when reading your blog.

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  3. I don't remember the last time I picked up a COSMO. I really enjoyed reading this, along with learning more about you, but just from reading your blog, I know you never had a confidence or low self esteem problem. Unfortunately, I think popular media helps to determine in a society what beautiful is. This is why I kind of don't like my hometown L.A. Everyone is so obsessed about their weight and the way they look; I am in some ways a product of that environment when it comes to how I view myself, but I fight it as much as possible in my head and in what I say or do. The irony in all this is, that - you can probably guess- I can't be out of height or weight standards in the Navy. In fact, I have to counsel people in this regard when they are facing separation from the Navy for not meeting the physical fitness requirements we have (in Body Composition Assessment, a run, pushups, and situps), and I have to, of course, uphold these same standards. And there have been a couple of times when I was getting close to "that number" that would put me over the allowed weight for my height. Also, running with less weight helps me be faster or beat old race times. So what this has turned into is more of an explanation of why I have to be concerned about a number on a scale.... But outside of my job, I don't really consider peoples' size or physical features, unless they make it a point to talk about it or constantly remind me about it for some reason. I never really thought about any of this before you blogged about it. I have friends of all sizes, and while all of them have talked about improving themselves in some way physically, including losing weight, those that would be considered "overweight" or plus-sized, have really good self esteem. I tend to surround myself with people that are positive, like me, so that would make sense. - Jess L

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    1. That's great, Jess! I haven't read Cosmo since high school and was shocked to see this article and wanted to be a little bit of a motivator (in some small way) for them to present this viewpoint more in their magazines and online. Fair representation is all I want! haha I understand that military service is an exception for the weight issue, I'm certainly not in shape enough to be in the Navy like you, but I'm in shape enough to not be looked at weird in a gym. I'm glad the plus-size women in your life are positive about themselves, that helps.

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  4. I haven't read this article but I loved reading your responses to these questions. I love how confident and self-assured you are- more women should be that way (and in all honesty, I'm one of them who wishes she had more confidence). You are absolutely gorgeous and your confidence just makes you more so.

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  5. You're an amazing person. I really enjoy reading about all that you have accomplished, Chels! You're such an encouragement :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Jess! I think you're amazing too :)

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  6. Didn't read the Cosmo article. But your post is spot on! Thank you!

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  7. I'm so glad you posted this, I loved reading your answers! I feel like you are one of the few "true" bloggers who put themselves out there in an honest way. I truly admire and find inspiration from you all the time! I can't believe they did that in your gym class! No matter what your weight is, that's mortifying to have your personal size blasted for an entire class! How awful! And your "I'm not seven years old, I don't want glitter all over the butt pockets of my jeans." Made me lol. Not because I think it's funny that those are the only options you're given, but that it's necessary for you to make that comment! You shouldn't have to explain to someone you want to dress like an adult! I cannot entirely relate, I have been small my entire life, but I know what it feels like to someone to automatically assume you're "wrong" or doing something "unhealthy" to be the size you are. I think you're beautiful and all women are and it isn't right for a person to comment on your weight, no matter what size you are. We're women, we should be empowering each other! Keep on rockin girl, I think you're fab!!! :)

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    1. Annnd please ignore the fact that I actually forgot to "sign" my comment.....it's Lindsey! lol

      High Heels and Training Wheels

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    2. You're so fabulous, Lindsey!! Thank you so much for your sweet comments!

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  8. Thank you for writing this. You're beautiful, and I think that your response to this article was pitch-perfect. I have been on both sides of the equation. All through my childhood, I was very chubby and got teased constantly about that. My weight has always fluctuated up or down 30 pounds, and at one point, through healthy eating and exercise I got down to a small size, but had trouble maintaining my weight there. Now, I'm comfortable in the curvy area of the spectrum, and have decided that as long as I'm healthy and active, then let the scale fall where it may! And P.S. - I've never had a problem attracting men, either. It's silly to think that all men like only one body type.

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    1. Awe. Thank you, Paulette! I didn't get chubby until around high school but that's when people start to notice differences so I've learned to deal with it. I'm all about being in the curvy spectrum!

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  9. Love this post! I think it's so awesome to be breaking down all those barriers. Good for you for being such a confident woman. No matter what size you are, it can be hard to do :)

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