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I found your response to my last question to be really helpful, so thank you! And thank you for considering my next question, which I suppose is a sort of continuation of that first one. So, I am a fat woman — like Rubens would have painted the hell out of my ampleness — and I have had a number of really sad and disheartening experiences with dating: crushes on friends that are not reciprocated, being generally ignored or else fetishized in ways that make me feel like a walking kink and not a real woman who wants to feel special and cherished in her own right. I have done a lot of work to feel stronger and more empowered in my body. And I feel like I have taken that power and self-respect back in every other area, except for dating. I have been utterly shut down there. I can intellectually understand that there are so many fat people who have loving partners, and I find myself haunting the Facebook pages of fat women who are in relationships — and, as of late, I am finally starting to think I could be in one, too. I would not want to go online at all (like at all), just out of self-protection and a desire to see how things could unfold organically — but I am so unsure how to really project and believe that, how to convey confidence and attractiveness. So, um, heeeeelp?
Hi Rubens’ Muse!
I’m Facebook friends with local Louisville body-positive phenom and powerful voice for plus-size women, Melissa Gibson. I’ve seen her post about her dating life over the years. Like most folks, she’s had her ups and downs, but overall, it seems like her romance life is active and exciting. So, I asked her if she could give you some guidance. She said yes! Read on for advice from Melissa:
There are a few things I can draw from my own experience:
1. It’s definitely a mindset switch. I think we can feel good about ourselves, but there is still so much negative talk out there when it comes to dating that makes us think potential partners just don’t find us attractive. On my experience, that’s just plain wrong. I’d say that a large percentage of people are attracted to individuals all over the body-size spectrum. Not just people who are settling or who have a fetish. In fact, those are few and far between.
2. I think as fat women, we want our partners to be so up front about their attraction because sometimes we don’t believe it, but that often draws in the people who fetishize us instead of allowing the attraction to just be and trust that if someone is showing interest, it’s there.
3. Do something that makes you stand out. I wear red lipstick. But for me, I know that when I put that on, I have to own it, and then I do. And that completely changes the way I present myself and people will always react to that.
4. Don’t apologize for your body. Hold space for insecurity, but don’t assume that your partner is ever disappointed. They aren’t.
5. You are you beyond your feelings about your body and beyond the world’s feeling about your body (whether real or imagined). Don’t let your body be the central focus of your life or interactions with men. Be you.
6. Recognize that someone not being attracted to you is not failure but instead just an answer, and now you get to move on.
7. Have fun with dating. Have standards. Enjoy each interaction for what they are. Don’t be looking for a relationship — be looking for people who want to fall in love with the right person and you both can figure out if you are the right person together.
8. Try online. Put up full-length pictures. Feel and look cute. And meet as soon as possible. As a fat woman, I had some of my best dates from online dating. And not one guy ever said anything bad about my body.
9. Have fun! You are embarking on a fun adventure; it can be murky at times but definitely worth it. And don’t let any of these interactions get you thinking any differently about yourself.
Honestly the mindset thing is a huge deal. That brings in a lot of questioning and insecurity that is often imagined. I hope this helps!