Too fat for love?
That's the question I’ve asked myself since I was just a little girl.
Was I truly unlovable just because of the way I looked? And if so, was I at least worthy of being liked? Or even just of being respected?
For a long time, I didn’t think I had the right to ask for any of those things from people. I looked around at all my peers growing up, and I knew deep down that I was different. People would always say I was old for my age, both in mind and body, and it really affected me. I grew up fast, and as such, I got to a stage where I was plagued by body insecurities at a much younger age than most people would expect. When you are hyper-aware of the way you look, you can’t just relax into being yourself, because you start to overanalyse everything that you do. I stood out visually, so I started to try and counterbalance that by blending in through other means. I began to shut down; I stopped voicing my opinions quite so loudly and I began to be more affected by other people’s opinions of me, always looking for approval from others. In short, I lost myself.
I used to be the sort of girl who would take the to stage and stand tall and proud of who she was, but over time I started to shrink back from the spotlight, and hide in the shadows of the crowd — and I can’t tell you how much I miss the person I used to be.
Thankfully, it’s never too late to work on yourself, and I'm proud that over the past year I've started to unlearn all of the bad habits that I used to censor myself. It’s been a slow process, but I have begun to realise that being fat doesn’t make me a bad person. I know now that I don’t need to feel the heart-stopping fear which used to strike me every time I stepped outside the door and interacted with the world. But that one question that always found it’s way back into my mind, was whether I'm too fat for love.
Which is why, when I was invited to come along to a filming for Emma Tamsin Hill’s documentary, Too Fat for Love?, and to be a part of a fat sex and love class, I knew that it was something I had to do. Before I arrived at Shoredich’s Sh! Emporium, I didn’t know what to expect, and I was worried about how I would feel when I arrived. Even now, my anxiety levels are high enough that I still struggle to speak up around strangers, and settle into conversation with people I don’t know. But as I stepped into the room, I found myself surrounded by an amazing bunch of strong, beautiful women, who were so unbelievably welcoming and accepting.
Our class was lead by the wonderful and fearless Athena Mae, a woman who is actively combating the notion that fat sex - or any sex for that matter - is anything to be ashamed of. It’s safe to say that Athena was not only the most confident woman I've ever met, but she also fully embraces her sexuality, and is determined to empower other women to feel the same way. In the class we discussed everything from the way we perceived ourselves, to the insecurities we feel when in intimate situations with a partner. As a group, we worked together to lift each other up, reminding one another of our worth.
As we talked, I soon realised that each of the beautiful women surrounding me had, at one point or another within their lives, felt the same insecurities that I have felt throughout mine. It astounded me slightly, because it would never cross my mind that these women weren’t worthy of love, so why would I ever think that about myself? I walked away from that class with not only a new perspective on life, love, and on myself, but also with the support of a group of women who I'm so grateful to have met.
So, do I need to change myself to be worthy of affection? Can I expect someone to look past my size, and care for me because of what lies underneath? Is there a person out there who is kind enough to take pity on me and love me despite my obvious flaws?
I can tell you that the answer to all of those questions, is absolutely, categorically, a definite no! I don’t want someone to love me out of pity, and I’m not looking for someone who will ‘look past’ my size. Do you know why? Because I deserve to be loved for all of me. For my size, for my mind, and for my heart; for who I am on the inside and the out. And so do you. This is the very least that we all deserve in the world; to be loved and respected for the very things which make us an individual, not in spite of them.
No matter the colour of your skin, your spiritual beliefs, your sexuality, your body shape, your physical ability: you deserve acceptance. So don’t settle for anything less.
The Too Fat For Love? documentary is available on BBC iPlayer and YouTube, and Emma explores everything from how the fat form is perceived, to gender differences in fat acceptance. To anyone out there who is looking for confirmation that they deserve to be loved in a world who tells them otherwise, I would definitely recommend watching Emma’s journey throughout the documentary, and beyond.