Plus Sized Double Standards

I don’t want to brag or anything but lately I’ve become aware that I’ve become pretty attractive physically. I have the body of a supermodel… from the 1600’s.

Jacopo Palma's portrait of Venus is a pretty solid likeness. But you know, with better skin.
Jacopo Palma’s portrait of Venus is a fairly solid likeness. You know, but with better skin.

I’ve never been called skinny, but the word fat has been known to be thrown around. I’m not huge but I’m by no means a delicate flower. I think I can remember the first time I realized I was a bigger girl. I was about 5 years old and I’d asked my mom for a treat of some sort, I can’t recall what but I can recall her response: “Do you really think you need it?”

At that age I had no idea what she meant. She asked me to look down and tell her what I saw. It had never occurred to me that I looked any different from any other little girl my age but at that moment I started to clue in to what she was getting at. I played coil. “My feet” I answered. She gave me a sympathetic look and said “Really? You can you see them over your tummy?” I can’t remember how the rest of the exchange went but I know afterward I ended up in my bedroom in tears.

My mother wasn’t trying to be cruel or  to hurt my feelings. That was the last thing she wanted. I’d gotten the round gene from her and she didn’t want to see me go through the teasing, bullying and insecurity she did as a kid. She wanted to help me. She wanted me to be aware so that I could fix it and avoid the same blows to my self-esteem that she took and still carries with her. She wanted better for me.

After that incident I was acutely aware of how little I resembled any of the princesses in my disney movies. How could I be a princess? I wasn’t beautiful and dainty like a princess was supposed to be. I was closer to the sea witch Ursula in physique than I was to Ariel.

Er, used to be.
Er, closer to what she used to be?

My weight has always been a touchy subject for me. I was teased in school because kids are assholes, I was shy, and being over weight made me a bigger and slower target. Not that I was beat up or anything. I was a girl. I got sly implications, laughed at behind my back, and if I was lucky out right insults. Sometimes I still can’t shake that paranoid feeling that when complete strangers are laughing it’s at me. Fuck, it was years before I was even comfortable eating around other people.

As a young girl the media teaches you to rank your self worth on your physical appearance. You can’t walk past a magazine rack without seeing actresses being criticized for their weight be they “too fat” or “too skinny”. There’s more interest in how much weight an actress lost for her new role than her performance.

Who cares if Anne Hathaway won an Oscar for 'Les Miserables', I heard she lost 25 pounds for the movie.
Who cares if Anne Hathaway won an Oscar for ‘Les Miserables’ the real achievement was the 25 pounds she lost for the role.

Some people even get mad at celebrities for gaining weight as if the act is some kind of personal slight against them. One of the things that made me the most livid was tabloids poking fun at Kim Kardashian for her weight gain in the months right after having a baby. By no means am I a Kardashian fan but the mean spirited things said about her inability to slim down within weeks of  giving birth were horrendous.

I think pretty much everyone would agree that Adele is an exceptionally talented singer, musician, and woman but yet you can’t find a music video on youtube where some asshole hasn’t deemed it fit to comment and mock her weight. Adele might be packing some extra pounds but she’s a total babe regardless of her dress size.

What's that? I'm fat? Sorry, I couldn't hear you over all these grammies.
“What’s that? You think I’m fat? Sorry, I couldn’t hear you over all these grammies I won.”

The media expects everyone to live up to an impossible standard of beauty that can only be achieved in photoshop and then gets mad when we can’t deliver all the while praising women promoting positive body image. It’s fucked up ya’ll. That’s why beautiful and slim Jennifer Lawrence can make comments like, “If anybody even tries to whisper the word ‘diet’, I’m like, ‘You can go fuck yourself”, or “In Hollywood I’m considered obese”, and everyone loves her for it even though she’s far from being considered a plus sized woman by anyone’s standards. She can say those things and be celebrated because she is conventionally attractive. If Lawrence was 40 pounds heavier would everyone feel the same way? Sure a lot of people would still rally behind her but there’d be a lot of people telling her she was a bad, unhealthy, role model as well.

Most of the movies and shows I watched growing up had a lack of female protagonists or even well rounded female characters and if she had a well rounded body you could just forget about character development all together. Even todays leading ladies follow a strict set of rules, one of which is she has to be attractive, especially if she’s going to have a love interest. Big boned girls are a) comic relief, b) awkward sidekicks, or c) dreaded obstacles for wingmen. At least we’ve always got Hairspray but that’s about it.

No, 'Shallow Hal' does not count.
No, ‘Shallow Hal’ does not count.

Boys are bombarded with expectations of looks and manliness as well but in regards to weight they also enjoy the trope of the loveable, chubby, goofball, every man. Yep, if you’re a man than funny trumps pounds every time whether the genre is comedy, action, or romance.

When it comes to film and television, men have no problem ending up with girls who are “out of their league” it’s even expected. Fred gets Wilma, Seth Rogan can knock up Katherine Heigl or marry Rose Byrne, and Jonah Hill can land Emma Stone but as much as we love Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson you’ll never see them making out with Ryan Gosling. That’s why I was routing for Elizabeth on New Girl. A heavier set girl snagging a hunk like Max Greenfield? You never see that shit!

Plus she gave us some of the best Schmidt moments of the season.

Pudgy guys are paired with smoking hot wives in nearly every sitcom ever made, one of those shows was King Of Queens.

Admit it, you watched for Maury Ballsteen.
Admit it! You only watched for Maury Ballstein.

The couple in the show consists of the husky and often unbelievably stupid Doug and his hot and often bitchy wife Carrie. Their relationship was the show’s main dynamic despite Jerry Stiller being the funniest thing on the show. Everything was fine for fans and no one cared about Kevin James weight, but Leah Remini was mocked plenty when she put on weight in later seasons mostly due to the fact that she had a fucking baby. Apparently people weren’t so forgiving when she had a harder time loosing the weight than most celebrities like she broke some unspoken contract with the public to never have an actual human body.

After 15min of looking this was the fattest picture I could find of her where I wasn't certain she was pregnant.
After 15min of looking this was the fattest picture I could find of her where I wasn’t certain she was pregnant.

This next bit is for my extra curvy ladies. One of the hardest things I had to wrap my head around as a kid was my sister’s looks. My sister is tiny in every sense of the word. She’s short enough and thin enough to carry around in your pocket. She’s the very definition of petite. She could have been a ballerina. Her and I look almost nothing alike. She was always pretty and I was always frumpy. Trying to understand how she could be so skinny and perfect when I was such a tubby little troll was difficult.

She got the looks and the friends and I got good grades. I was a smart kid. I had to be. The way I saw it I didn’t have looks going for me so I had to make up for it somehow. She seemed to be effortlessly liked where as I felt I had to work so hard to get people to see past those extra pounds. This definitely housed some totally unfair resentment on my part. She couldn’t help the way she was anymore than I could. It wasn’t her fault I felt ugly it was societies expectations of me that did. I had no right to be angry with her.

I do what I want.

This leads me to a huge flaw with the body image movement. In response to being bombarded by the media with images of what we’re supposed to look like many women understandably go on the defensive but sometimes it goes to far. We’re so mad at mainstream culture for making us feel bad about ourselves that we lash out at the thin girls as if it’s their fault all because they’re slim. Just like it’s not ok to knock Jessica Simpson or Tyra Banks for gaining weight it’s not right to show people a picture of the always thin Alyson Hannigan in a bikini with her arms behind her back and call her anorexic.

Don’t the paparazzi know she’s been known to rip skin from people’s bodies when she’s mad?

The reason why skinny women are the subjects of so much resentment and anger is because they represent that ideal we’ll never achieve. We associate their physique with starving ourselves and all those other unhealthy things girls do to try and loose wait. And no matter how thin anyone gets society tells them it’s still not skinny enough and that’s why that tiny girl on your Facebook feed is always trying to close those “last 10 pounds”.

None of this is their fault. They’re susceptible to the same pressures we are and making fun or tearing down someone for being naturally skinny is just as bad as teasing someone for being fat. No woman’s (or man’s) body should ever be the subject of ridicule. We’re all people with our own flaws and insecurities who deserve compassion. That’s something I’ve come to realize in recent years.

That and making a woman who hated and killed her self with a bottle of pills the poster girl for self-esteem.
That and making a woman who hated herself and died from taking a bottle of pills the poster girl for self-esteem makes no sense.

I’ve accepted that I’ll never look like the photoshopped models in magazines. How can I except to achieve that when they don’t look that way? I’ll always be thicker and I’m actually happy with that. If I was to wake up tomorrow morning weighing 110 it wouldn’t feel right. It wouldn’t be a proper representation of who I am. Sure there are some creases here and there I could do without and that’s why in the last month I’ve really made and effort to eat better and work out. Not to loose weight but to stay healthy. I don’t want to look like a balloon or a stick figure. I just want to look like I’m capable of kicking a little ass if need be.

 

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18 thoughts on “Plus Sized Double Standards

  1. ksfinblog May 22, 2014 / 4:25 pm

    really that is awesome ………now you just have to invent time trvel machine and you are all set.

    Like

      • ksfinblog May 23, 2014 / 10:52 am

        If you can work out a plausible theory funding might not be a problem.

        Like

  2. anntogether.com May 22, 2014 / 5:14 pm

    You’re young yet, but you figured it all out much sooner than I did – I’m 51. My entire life was followed by words of size – I was a chubby kid and I tried acting like a tomboy to hide my hurt feelings, as a teen, I was made fun of and in college I was called Amazon – I’m nearly 5′ 10″, big -framed and have always carried a few extra pounds. For a very long time, I didn’t like myself and was quite sad. Somewhere along the way it didn’t matter so much anymore. After I had children – I stopped focusing on myself and I think there’s where my real magic happened. I woke up one day and liked me for me. I was finally comfortable in my own skin. My husband, who likes me because he’s weird 😉 has never swayed in his feelings regardless of my size…it’s funny in different cultures, what is considered the pinnacle of beauty changes – it is subjective like art. So the first half of my life I was sad, I’m not wasting the second half. But your philosophy is a smart one, be healthy for a good life. That is mine too.
    You’re a smart young woman who will do well in whatever path you move upon
    AnnMarie 🙂

    Like

    • ellemorgan May 23, 2014 / 12:32 am

      But Late than never. Thanks so much for sharing your story and thanks to the power of 10 for your sweet comments. 😉

      Like

      • anntogether.com May 23, 2014 / 2:42 am

        You’re welcome, bright lady!
        Have a terrific weekend!
        AnnMarie 🙂

        Like

  3. bensbitterblog May 22, 2014 / 8:13 pm

    I agree. It just seems like men get a free pass when it comes to being overweight. It just seems like people should just see my personality of being bitter and judge me on that instead of how I look.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Puffetic May 23, 2014 / 4:35 am

    Kids can be assholes alright, there’s plenty of parents and role models to show them how. But I don’t buy into this game that says look for your inner beauty and happiness, because I checked, and I don’t have any. I personally believe that most people have no idea what they are capable of, until they are forced to reach their physical limits. But like most, my health and fitness is ruled by my inaction and laziness. It’s my right as a second class citizen!

    Like

    • ellemorgan May 23, 2014 / 11:57 am

      The self-esteem movement is a whole other thing. All that “everyone is special” stuff is bullcrap.

      Like

  5. starwarsanon May 23, 2014 / 7:26 am

    This is a great post. I’m a little nervous about chiming in from the other side of the spectrum (naturally thin), but I get so uncomfortable when people talk about my weight. They ask if I eat or if I “workout, like, for 4 hours everyday?”. Or even just comments like, “Wow, you’re really skinny”, makes me very, very uncomfortable to the point that I hastily change the subject. And I have nothing to hide! I eat healthy and work out, but not to extremes.

    So, anyway, I’m glad that you brought up the other side of the spectrum. I now never talk about weight. Ever. It’s a bad road to go down on either side. Even if a friend brings up diets or working out or losing pounds, I don’t say anything. Someone within the conversation will feel fat (I have a friend who is extremely athletic and is 5′ 2″ and very thin, so yes, I feel that too at times) no matter what. So I just don’t mention it.

    Like

    • ellemorgan May 23, 2014 / 11:54 am

      I hate that anyone has to feel that insecure about their body no matter their flaw. It’s an ugly aspect of society. Just like I shouldn’t feel bad for being a little bigger you shouldn’t feel bad for being smaller. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

  6. brownhairedgirl27 May 23, 2014 / 8:19 am

    Thanks for writing this, it’s so intelligent and awesome and you’ve said everything I wish I could write but so much better 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Goob May 23, 2014 / 12:18 pm

    The only thing that I disagree with is the comment about men. I feel like men also get shamed for their size and not being muscular, but they are expected not to complain about it because women have it worse.

    I always hated high school not because of my weight, but because I was just downright unattractive. I’m 6 feet tall, and have a pretty slim frame and was pretty slim in high school. I have gained a LOT of weight lately, and since I know not to wear skin tight clothes most people say ‘oh but you’re tall’ or ‘you wear it well’. But when I walk past any reflective surface I cringe inside (and outside sometimes). I can see the rolls on my stomach, the fat on my hips that is almost bigger than my butt, my double chin.

    Most importantly though, is that I’m uncomfortable in my own body, and want to get healthier. I don’t care if my weight stays the same, like you said: ” I just want to look like I’m capable of kicking a little ass if need be.”

    Like

    • ellemorgan May 24, 2014 / 1:02 am

      Men do have their own issues with standards set for their looks but like you said “women have it worse”. No one should be made to feel that way gender aside, but we’d be lying for the sake of being politically correct if we said it was the same. They have the right to complain but that doesn’t make women’s complaints any less valid.

      I know those feels. Sometimes your just going about your day and then you catch a glimpse of yourself in a window or mirror and the rest of your day is just draped in insecurity. I’m pretty comfortable with myself now but I still avoid cameras. Some days you just don’t like what you’ve got but it’s all you’ve got so you have to learn to roll with it.

      And for the record your wit and personality make you bona fide babe.;)

      Like

  8. The Messy Maiden May 24, 2014 / 5:59 pm

    Awesome post! You really encompassed the whole picture 🙂

    Like

  9. Being KeLeigh May 25, 2014 / 4:32 pm

    The amount of times I was made fun of in school still sends chills down my spine when I think about it. People are cruel and uneducated. Your weight isn’t wjat matters. Its your health that matters.

    Like

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