THINGS I WISH SOCIETY WOULD STOP TELLING PLUS-SIZE WOMEN

I’m a fat, Black woman from the South, and when I say I’ve heard it all, I’ve heard it all. The backhanded compliments hidden behind the snide smiles. The internalized fatphobia disguised as unsolicited health advice. The charity-case utters of encouragement as if your fatness is a representation of sadness. The uncomfortable remarks deriving from the discomfort felt every time that one senses your confidence. And even the rude, discriminative comments just for the hell of it. Anything you could think of, I’ve probably been told it, at least, once or twice in my life. And it’s not that it bothers me or strips me of my self-esteem; it annoys me and every single fiber of my being. No, literally. Simply because, when the odds are against you, in any type of situation, people feel as if they’re entitled to say whatever, whenever, however because they view you as less-than, someone they can knock down and walk all over. Oh, and don’t you dare speak up and speak out! Now, you’re angry, insecure, jealous, and creating a problem that “doesn’t exist.”

HELLO, does anybody realize that we’re human, too?! The answer is… NO. Unfortunately.

Which is why it’s important to set boundaries. In relationships. In friendships. In familyships. In life, PERIOD. I had to learn that it’s not okay to stand by and let your friends and family fat-shame. It’s not okay to make your colleagues trick you into believing that your size and appearance determine how they treat you. It’s not okay to let random people feel as if they have a to-go card to disrespect your character based on what they group us of larger statures to be.

These are EIGHT things I wish society would stop telling plus-size women.

1. “YOU’RE NOT FAT; YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL!”

But… it’s like, when did I say that I was ugly, Brenda? Let’s normalize understanding that fatness can very well co-exist with fineness. We can be both, and no one can tell us otherwise. I can remember having a “friend” who’d always use this line as an attempt to make me feel “good about myself.” We’re no longer friends, but that’s another story for another day. I’ll just say this… when someone shows you their true colors, don’t ever try to paint a different picture.

2. “YOU’D BE EVEN PRETTIER IF YOU LOST WEIGHT!”

We’ve all heard this statement. If not exactly, in different wording with the same meaning. My first time ever being told this was a few months ago, actually. I used to wonder if people could be this cruel to say such thing, but I quickly learned that they, in fact, could. One day, I was on Facebook minding my business… when a lady on my friends list took it upon herself to comment under one of my recently-posted photos.

“You are so beautiful, beloved. But I see God correcting a glandular condition, which will cause weight loss. No fears; you’ll be thicker than a snicker, full of curves, bootylicious, but many pounds and inches smaller,” the comment read.

I was highly upset and offended by this, but thankfully, I’ve mastered the art of a classy comeback. After venting to my loved ones about the nonsense, my response was: “I’m perfectly fine the way that I am. I’m sure that God thinks so as well.”

In conclusion, some situations just don’t warrant the energy that people are expecting you to put into them. I’m not pretty for a big girl. I’m not “too big” to be pretty. I’m not on a journey to lose weight in order to reach society’s idea of “body goals” or my fullest beauty potential. I’m me. Fat, fabulous, and FREE to just BE.

3. “FATPHOBIA DOESN’T EXIST!”

What do we call the popular boy in grade school who refused to sit by us at lunch? What do we call that one family member who always made it a point to emphasize how “big we were for our age” as a child? What do we call the group of girls who singled us out and practically appointed us as the butt of every joke of their friend circle?

Fatphobia has been around; it just hasn’t been talked about enough.

Are we forgetting that the body positivity movement was originally rooted in the fight against fatphobia? It very well exists. In music. In fashion. In media. In the world… as a whole. It’s everywhere. Whether we want to address it or not, it’s there. My only hope is that people would stop dismissing such a prominent topic that has been going on for decades too long.

If you want to know my thoughts, in detail, when it comes to this subject, check out my previous blog post, Fatphobia: It’s Not All Just In Our Heads.

4. “YOU LOOK LIKE LIZZO!”

If telling me that I look like a Grammy-winning, uber-talented, super-gorgeous, MEGAstar makes you feel good on the inside, BRING IT ON, BOO!

Anyone who knows me would tell you that I’m freaking obsessed with Lizzo. I love how she carries herself so unapologetically. I love her style. I love her music. I love everything about her as if she’s my bestie (in my head). However, what I don’t love is those who use the comparison comments as insults.

Personally, I’ve never been told this, but I’ve noticed this A LOT on TikTok. I follow a number of amazing plus-size influencers on there, and the Lizzo jokes are relentless. I say that it comes from a place of fat-shaming and categorizing–as if all plus-size women are the same–with no individuality or uniqueness, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Although I’ve never been compared to Lizzo, people seem to think that all fat, Black girls are similar. I can’t count the times I’ve been told I resemble Precious (Gabourey Sidibe). Some say it to be funny, some say it because they actually think so. Little do they know, it’s honestly an honor for me. Gabourey is another plus-size public figure who I admire so, so much!

I just wish that others would stop using fat women’s appearances as means of entertainment or slander.

5. “YOU’RE UNHEALTHY!”

Contrary to popular belief, all fat people aren’t unhealthy, and all skinny people aren’t healthy.

As a child, I hated going to the doctor because *some* medical professionals tend to link everything to one’s weight without even checking for assurance.

“Your stomach hurts? Oh, it’s probably your weight.”

Because of this, society has been conditioned to think that way as well. A couple of months back, I posted a reel on Instagram for motivational purposes, promoting fat acceptance. Within the first two minutes, the paragraphs of how “unhealthy” my weight is started rolling in from the trolls.

Another thing that irks me about this, too, is that some automatically think that because you are “obese” that you eat large quantities of food, which isn’t the case for everybody.

Moral of the story, just mind your business, babe.

6. “YOU’RE NOT FAT; YOU’RE THICK!”

The younger me who had yet to own her fatness would take this as a flex. However, I’m not that girl anymore.

I’m fat, sis. There’s no way around it. Telling me that I’m “thick” to “boost my confidence” is not going to give you a gold medal nor is it going to erase my plumpness.

I can remember when thick and fat were almost interchangeable. Growing up in the South, if you had an excessive amount of meat on your bones–no matter where it was–you were considered plus-size. Nowadays, people are so afraid of being boxed in the “fat” section that they’ve worked their way around it by coming up with these terms put in place to divide.

I’ll just sip my tea on that one, though.

7. “STOP PROMOTING OBESITY!

So, loving myself is promoting obesity?

Let’s give a round of applause for the ignorance.

This is social media’s favorite way to tear fat women down, and you can’t help but love the silence that comes from them when you challenge their stupid ideology.

I guess the lesson that we should take from this is: “Fat people fat-peopling on the internet is illegal.”

8. “TAKE WHAT YOU CAN GET!

When you’re “overweight,” people seem to think that you don’t deserve to have morals, values, or standards.

But… they thought wrong.

I will never settle for less because that’s what someone else believes I’m only capable of getting.

I’ll never forget this one guy who I was communicating with. He grew upset when I called out his inconsistency. Do you know that this man had the nerve to say, “Just be glad that I’m even texting you back.”

EXCUSE ME?!

That was the last time I let a dusty with a dollar-store chain disrespect me.

Regardless of the stigmas placed upon the big girl community and our dating pool, there are men out here willing to rub every roll and trace every stretch mark… respectfully.

And if he isn’t, it’s HIM who doesn’t deserve ME.

Case closed.

What are some out-of-pocket things you’ve been told as a plus-size woman? Let me know in the comments!

I DESERVE A SEAT AT THE TABLE, EVEN IF I HAVE TO MAKE MY OWN

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized a lot of things about myself.

I’m sensitive about my ish. And by “ish,” I mean… my family, my food, my money, but most importantly, my art. I’m a sweetheart, but I don’t take too kindly to the wrong buttons being pushed. I give great advice, but I don’t always take my own. I love writing, but some days I hate it (and that’s okay). I enjoy being alone, but I don’t like to feel lonely. I, unfortunately, base my worth on productivity, but that’s a mindset I’m working to change. I’m a little bit of a people pleaser, and it’s a bad habit that I need to break. I’m not great at accepting criticism, even if it’s constructive. Bad opinions sometimes bother me because I like to leave good impressions. I hit below the belt when I’m angry, but I really don’t mean it. I’m shy, but I tend to come out of my shell when I feel that I’m in a safe enough space to do so. I could go on and on, but there are so many layers to me. Layers that I have yet to fully peel back. But they’re there. They’re what make me, me. 

However, among those, I’ve discovered one of my most toxic traits: I’m quick to self-sabotage. Can you believe it? The one who’s always encouraging others to be their best selves and believe in what they’re capable of? Yes. She is me, and I am her. As of late, that has been the biggest battle I’ve been trying to fight–mentally and emotionally. I’ve never admitted that aloud, but the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that it needs to be fixed, right? I’ve been guilty of dimming my light to give someone else the room to shine. I’ve been guilty of turning down the volume of my confidence to bring others comfort. I’ve been guilty of selling myself short when I knew, deep down, that what I had to offer was worth so much more than the discounted price tag I’d put on it. 

Because of that, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’ve been getting in my own way and holding myself back from reaching my fullest potential. For some odd reason, I’ve just gotten so comfortable with dumbing down myself and my achievements that it’s almost become the norm for me. I hate attention. I hate bragging. The Leo in me is probably disappointed right now, but it’s the truth. I often question whether I am “capable” or “good enough” to be put in the places that I’ve been in.

A prime example of this proved itself true, even more, when I received an invite to an amazing writing group on Facebook.

If we’re being honest, although I still have so much further to go in my writing career, as much as I try to say otherwise, I’ve accomplished some bomb-axx things. I’ve had Amazon bestsellers, yet, in a room full of other accomplished writers, I’ve made myself feel small and unworthy. As if I don’t belong. As if… who am I to even think that I am deserving to be in a bunch of writers of their caliber? However, upon entrance into the group, I immediately noticed that all of the women in this collective were amazing, supportive, and HUMBLE. Not once did they or have they ever done anything to make me feel the smallness and unworthiness that I just spoke about. The part of me that feels inadequate has, though. 

Oddly, I’ve found myself in the same mental space when I’m asked for advice on things that I know I do well. I can’t count how many messages I’ve gotten from others who were interested in writing a book or entering the world of journalism–two things I’ve done and have been doing for quite some time now. “What if I can’t lead them in the right direction?” I’d ponder. “What if the advice that I do give is not as helpful?” So many doubts would swirl through my head that, though eager to help, my nerves almost wouldn’t let me. 

Starting my podcast was a huge jump ahead and step out of my comfort zone, though. It was through starting it that I realized exactly what the title of this blog post is: I Deserve a Seat at the Table, Even If I Have to Make My Own. I’d been talking about launching my podcast for the longest, but I never could work up the guts to do it… until, one day, I said EFF IT! I hit record and began talking. I didn’t stop. Hitting that upload button was equivalent to the pride I feel every time I finish a new novel. It was exhilarating–liberating even! Five episodes in, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I can’t lie and say that I haven’t thought about it on those days where nothing seems to be going right, but if I worried about every little thing going wrong, I’d never get anything done. 

These days, I’m teaching myself to be more kind to my mind. To quit beating myself up over things I can’t control and focus on the things that I can. To tune out the opinions of others and rely on my own. To trust me and all that I’ve been gifted enough to do. To take the wheel of my career and drive wherever I’d like to see it go. He or she may be great for whatever position, but that doesn’t snatch away the spot that has been reserved for me.

I’ve been told NO a lot, but I’m saying YES to myself.
And it feels good.

Do what makes your soul smile and your heart dance. Don’t wait for the opportunity; create it.