Self-Esteem and Growing Up Fat

Trigger warning: self-mutilation, disordered eating.

I spend a lot of time ruminating on the fragility of self-esteem and how difficult it is to maintain in our society. How many female-identified people or people raised female can say they have a high opinion of themselves? My self-esteem problem has always been my weight. As an adult I’m a pretty confident person, but I carry a lot of baggage that stems directly from being fat as a kid.

I have always been considered obese. Recently I was talking to a female friend who is roughly my size. She told me that growing up she never really felt like she was very fat; she wasn’t really picked on because of it. That’s the exact opposite of my own experience.

Sugarcunt, age 4

Sugarcunt, age 4

I was surprised to hear she never really felt like she was very fat as a child. So many women can recall how young they were when they started thinking, “I am fat.” I can’t remember how young I was when I first thought I was fat and ugly because I simply can’t remember a time after the age of 5 when I wasn’t ridiculed for being fat and ugly. I spent my childhood years painfully aware of my size, feeling like my body was quicksand in which my personality was mired. I can’t remember the first time my fat ass knocked a cup off a table; instead I have had a lifetime spent ever-vigilant against my swinging, protruding body parts that were prone to breaking things.

She said she didn’t want to curl up and die if a seatbelt didn’t fit. I do own a seatbelt extender; while it’s not required in every car, I harbor a great deal of anxiety when I get into a vehicle that isn’t my own.  Sometimes the plate won’t even come near the latch. Sometimes the plate will come so close to the latch that if I were merely just an inch smaller it would click into place. If I don’t have my extender with me I just sit in the backseat and hold the seatbelt against my body, knowing full well that I could be killed if we have an accident. For a brief moment – when the seatbelt can’t latch – I look forward to that possibility.

Sugarcunt in her favorite Missmonster shirt

Sugarcunt, age 20

She wasn’t mercilessly teased from ages 4 to 18. She didn’t develop the self-deprecating sense of humor that I adopted in fifth grade to convince bullies that I was on their side. She didn’t develop the lethal talent for slinging verbal abuse that I acquired in seventh grade when my humor wasn’t enough to deflect bullying.

As a teenager she never felt like her thin friends deliberately excluded her. When the tides of bullying calmed I found myself treading water alone off the coast of an island. All my friends were on land, tall and thin, surrounded by boys and attending parties while I floundered, cold and tired, in the depths of self-hatred.

I was surprised to hear she didn’t diet as a child.  I drank Slimfast before I was 10 years old. I poked at my plates and hated myself for not liking salads more. I spent lunch periods sleeping in my creative writing classroom so that no one would notice I wasn’t eating and I wouldn’t be awake to feel hunger pains. I tried restricting my food intake while I participated in sports teams and marching band hoping the activity would shave off a few inches, but I would inevitably quit after the season ended because I had lost no weight.

It doesn’t seem like she spent her nights looking at pro-anorexia blogs and wishing that she had an eating disorder. I would stare at photos of women whose bodies were shutting down on them and think two things simultaneously: “If I had willpower I could do that,” and, “I am a horrible person who doesn’t deserve to live.” The longer I stared at thinspiration the more I hated myself for envying women who had a deadly, legitimate mental illness. The longer I stared the more I berated myself for lacking the willpower to stop thinking that way, and, more importantly, to stop eating.

She has absolutely never fantasized about mutilating her body. Once a week I stand with my hands on my hips and press as hard as I can, willing them to narrow at least two inches. I can grab the fat hanging from my upper arms and squish it in my fingers, clutching it hard until the pain reminds me that it might not be to my benefit to rip it from my body. I still look in the mirror and sometimes see myself grabbing great chunks of fat from my belly and cutting them off like one would slice a ham.

Sugarcunt in 2013

Sugarcunt in 2013

If you asked my current peer group, they’d probably guess that I have a lot of self-esteem. Some days I actually feel that way, but others are not so great. My youth was a mental minefield. That positive self-image didn’t come to me until I was in college. My esteem is a delicate thing, like a spider’s web that takes days to recreate once someone has ripped through it. I wonder if it would be different if our culture didn’t shame and disrespect the obese. Feeling good about myself is an uphill battle, so I’m amazed when I meet people my size who are love themselves.

My friend had a pretty happy childhood and today she is well-adjusted; she doesn’t feel like I do about myself, and she didn’t grow up like I did. Meanwhile, I am surprised on the rare days when I can pretend I grew up like her.

Pretty For a Fat Chick

Since I’ve re-entered the dating world I’ve heard things like “you’re beautiful despite your size,” and “you’re beautiful because of your size.” Neither of these is what I want to hear. Am I being too picky? I don’t think I am.

They say, “You’re beautiful despite your size.” As if no one could be beautiful at my size, and as if my size cannot be a part of what makes me beautiful. “Your fat is an obstacle that you have overcome by virtue of having a cute face! Good for you! Part of you is pretty enough to make up for the fact that I consider you deathfat!”

The other ones, the fat fetishists, say, “You’re beautiful because of your size.” That’s a little closer to what I would like to hear because it’s always nice to know that there are people out there who do not consider obesity to be the most disgusting thing in the world, but it’s still not perfect. I don’t want to be admired solely because I am a person of size. I am sexy, but I am not a sex object and my body is not something to be fetishized. I don’t want to be distilled down to a body that I’ve spent years wrestling with and that I fight every day to accept. I’m not a walking, talking Rubens painting that fucks for your enjoyment.

A full body photo from 2012

Sugarcunt circa 2012, repping the Obesity Cabal.

Don’t make this mistake with other fat people, admirers. I know I can’t speak for all of us (you know, the OBESITY CABAL), but I have heard this sentiment voiced by a few people of a similar size. I’m sure your intentions are good. You want to say, “Your size doesn’t make you less desirable to me.” That’s not a bad thing! But unless I’m in some kind of self-hate spiral about being fat I don’t need you to say something to assure me that my fat is not a dealbreaker.

I know some people are like, “Well what does she want? We can’t like her fat, we can’t hate her fat, and now we can’t mention it in passing either?” Honestly… yes. Pretty much that. Another person’s body is not yours to comment on, no matter what the size. If you want to have a conversation about my fat and our relationship supports that sort of topic, let’s talk about it plainly, but with tact. Trying to slip it into a compliment is not tactful. I don’t need you to compliment me in some kind of code that tries to discreetly address my fat. You don’t have to acknowledge my fat like it’s another person in the room that you don’t want to ignore for fear of seeming rude, so you don’t have to add further qualifiers onto “you’re pretty.” Just say I’m pretty. Don’t tell me I’m pretty… for a fatty.  I don’t need you to other me by using my body to set me apart from the “normies.”

All I ask for is someone who appreciates me as a whole package. I don’t want a partner that tolerates or ignores my fat because they like everything else, and I don’t want a partner that focuses on my fat before everything else.  My husband is one person who handles this with grace. He isn’t a “chubby chaser,” and he doesn’t cringe every time he sees me naked. He likes to see me naked, in fact! He would never make the stupid mistake of tacking something about my body onto the end of, “You’re beautiful.” Why is just plain, “You’re beautiful,” so hard for some people to say? Just stop talking after the second word. Why does my size have to come into it at all? Why can’t I be beautiful AND fat? Why is there automatically an assumption that my fat must impact my view of my beauty and self-worth? How about you just worry about loving me, and let me worry about being fat.

Airing Some (Plus-Sized) Lingerie Part 1 – Clothing Edition

I know this blog is about dating, kinky shit, putting things in my vagina, and gender (when I get around to it), but there’s also something very distinct in my life that I make sure to mention in my descriptions, and that is totally relevant to my sex life, my sexy outfits, and my gender identity (and social, body, and gender dysphoria): that I’m fat.

No, I really am.  I’m not “model fat,” where I’m actually average (between US size 10 or 14) and Torrid is using me to promote a site geared toward people who are actually plus-sized.  My body is strangely-proportioned.  I’m 5’ tall, with enormous hips and thighs, a big, round ass, a short waist (or maybe it seems that way because of my hips), and broad shoulders that accompany not-overly-generous breasts.  (I’m a strangely-shaped D-cup.  It’s not an impressive cup size for a female-bodied person of my body shape.)  I’m literally somewhere between “pear” and “hourglass” shaped… hourglass because of my shoulders, though – not that you can tell much about my waist under my clothing.  My hip measurement is twenty inches more than my waist measurement.  I buy the biggest panties that Lane Bryant offers, and they do not all fit equally or ideally.  Most sites, when they offer underwear catering to anyone that’s actually my size, strictly offer tummy-sucking, high-control, high-waisted underwear.  Plus-sized clothing companies, especially the ones producing lingerie, believe that the women they’re actually building for are over 5’6 and have little-to-no hip span, and no ass.  They also believe, for the most part, that the bigger we are, the more we want to suck and tuck so that we look as smooth and tiny as possible, rather than wear something that lets us get naked and bone the nearest thing with legs.

Are you beginning to detect that I have a problem with this?  You can read much, much more below.  Or you can ignore the text below the cut and wait until I post about sex again – that’s your prerogative as the reader.

(more…)