4 March 2014

The Cosmo Challenge

Claire from A Monkey Fatshionista recently came up with a challenge of answering the recent Cosmo article questions.  I really wanted to do this as I found it totally puzzling that they would feature full and frank answers, and yet name the women in the article “A” and “B”.

But I was scared.  The questions frankly terrified me and I didn’t get involved in the challenge.  I have regretted that ever since so I have kicked my ass today and have answered, as below!

How do you feel when other women around you complain about feeling/being fat?

Depends on the context really.  If it is a stranger or acquaintance complaining about feeling/being fat I just let it go over my head.  Their issues with their own bodies are exactly that, their issues not mine.   When  it is someone I know, it does tend to bug me; particularly when they are implying that fat is the worst thing they could be.  I want to say get a grip, but I never do. 

How has your body image changed since high school? College?

I have been a bigger girl my whole life.  I was a chubby child but I also started to grow breasts at the age of  10/11 so I guess that was the first time really that I was marked out as being different from others around me.

Have you tried dieting? What happened?

I have been on various diets at different points in my life.  Sometimes I lost weight, then it would go back on.  There are certain things I could change about my diet but then I don’t sit around stuffing my face all day either.

Do you think in your case your weight is partly or entirely genetic?

I don’t know to be honest.  I think it is just me.  It is the way I have always been.

Do you consider yourself healthy? Have there been instances where people have assumed you are unhealthy?

I am more of a carbs person than a sweet person and I would like to reduce the carbs a little.  I don’t eat breakfast which I probably should and I could exercise more than I do.  I have quit smoking though for which I feel a lot healthier for doing.  I have always have a good blood pressure and am rarely ill with anything other than a cold.  I have never had someone say to me that they think I am unhealthy although a work colleague did ask me once “You do eat a lot or is this just the way you look”.

Are your parents both supportive of the weight you’re at? Have they always been?
My step dad never says anything one way or the other.  My mum used to mention diets occasionally and is always on one herself, but I think now that now she is accepted me for the way I look.  She doesn’t mention it anymore.

How do you think retailers can improve clothes for plus-size people?
By remembering that plus size people like fashion too.  We want to be able to wear whatever we like without being told that “You can’t wear that”.  Make clothes in the bigger sizes too.  Acknowledge that just because you think a fat person shouldn’t wear an item of clothing doesn’t mean that you can make that choice for them.  Give us the choice.

Do you think plus-sized women are judged differently to plus-sized men? How?
I don’t personally know any plus size men so I don’t know what their experience is.  Women are treated more like sex objects than men and the presumption that we should have to look a certain way is focused more on women.   I want to say that it is much harder for plus size women but as I don’t have the other perspective, that would be wrong. 

Do you think there is an assumption made/stereotypes that exist about plus-size people? How would you respond to it?

There are the usual assumptions made of course.  Lazy, stuffing your face, work shy, etc etc.  I don’t respond to other people’s assumptions of what a fat person is like because if they can’t be bothered to overlook the stereotype then they are not people I wish to know.

Do you think there’s ever a right way/time to express concern about someone’s weight?
No.  It is nobody’s business but your own.  A GP will do it, but I think that the excuse of weight is palmed off on illnesses that have nothing to do with it. 

What are the worst things people have said to you about your weight?

I tend to banish these sort of comments from my mind.  The worst one, which I always remember is “You will always be alone looking like that”.

How did you respond?

How do you respond to something like that?  I can’t remember.  It was a few years back now and all I remember now is how much it hurt and the feeling that I would never be good enough.

What have people said (or do you wish they’d say) that would compliment your body or appearance?

I have had compliments on my eyes, and my breasts.  I get told that I am pretty, but sometimes I do get the feeling that they it is being said as “You are so pretty but……”  I wear a dress every single day and that is something that gets commented on in a positive way which I like.  I like to make a real effort every day when getting ready.

Do you find yourself hanging out with women who are closer to your size?
My best friend is actually at the opposite end of the scale to me.  She was always told that she was too thin and needed to put on weight when in reality, it is just the way she is naturally.  None of my others friends are closer to my size but it doesn’t bother me.  There would be something wrong if it did. 

One of the things I loved about going to Plus North was meeting people of a similar size to me and seeing their confidence, which massively inspired my own.

How has your weight affected your sex life, if at all?

When I have had a relationship in the past, not too much.  Once I get to the point where I am comfortable with a guy, I am ok.  Ish.

When you’ve been single, has your weight affected your dating life?

A lot.  One thing I am still working on is the fact that when it comes to men, I don’t feel good enough.  In my logical head I don’t mind if somebody doesn’t find me attractive, that’s fine, but my irrational head tells me that no one will want me. 

I’ve been single for such a long time now and it is only recently that I have began to realise that this is mostly my own fault.  I have so many dating/relationship opportunities that I have backed away from, purely because of the constrictions in my head. 

This is getting better, just on a slower rate.  I am good enough.  I won’t let anyone else dictate to me what I should look like in order to be worthy of someone’s attention. 

Do you feel weird if the guy you’re with only dates larger women?

For me that wouldn’t be comfortable.  I don’t want to be anyone’s fetish.  Similarly though I couldn’t date something if they liked just my personality.   I want to be wanted for me, as a whole.  Now I just have to actually let someone do that.

Do you feel weird if he’s only dated slimmer women before you?

I don’t think so no.  It would easier that if they had only dated larger women before.  As long as it wasn’t as I have said above, wanted for my personality but not finding me attractive.

I have had about a million run away and hide moments answering these questions.  I wasn’t brave enough before, in fact I was downright terrified.

The thing is though, you never improve if you don’t confront what scares you.  I want to emerge from my label as the fat girl and my own self imposed constraint of not feeling good enough.  I just want to be Vicky.  Happy. Confident. If you find me attractive fine, if you don’t, that’s fine too.  I want to feel good enough and I will.  Sooner rather than later I hope.
I have tagged below the other women that did the challenge.  Although I wasn't involved in the challenge, other's perspectives on these questions is interesting.

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