Thursday, 27 February 2014

Cosmo answers...What being a fat woman is really like for ME

This week this piece has been going around facebook and it's caused some discussion....mainly WHY are these women anonymous? It also sparked the wonderful Chattermonkey to answer the questions herself and invite others to do so. I read the blog posts and was really interested - then Monkey asked me to do I have! It's a bit waffly....

How do you feel when other women around you complain about feeling/being fat?
If they’re thinner than me (which they usually are) it peeves me rather than really annoys me. I understand we all have fat days. However some women say it to fish for the  “oh no, you’re not fat” comments I won’t play along and find it intensely annoying. Especially if they’re tiny. If that happens around me, I’ll tell them to fuck off! 

How has your body image changed since high school? College?
Yes and no. As most fat kids at school did, I had a hard time. Factor in the fact that I changed schools (and countries) every two years due to my Dad’s job and it made it even harder. I was always the new kid and the fat new kid at that. I managed to become an all singing, all dancing performing kind of kid – pre-empting the jokes and banter by saying it myself. I was very popular at my last school – the one I stayed at for longest – but never felt secure about it. Post school I felt fine about it. At Uni I put on more weight but never felt it stopped me. It defined me as an actor – I was the Nurse, not Juliet....I was the funny best friend, never the lead. But that was cool. As I’ve got older I’m more comfortable in my body but I do have moments – I have one particular friend who is utterly stunning. Same age as me but looks 20 years younger, firm body, despite having 2 kids and utterly beautiful. She's one of the sweetest, most lovely women I know. BUT....When I go out with her and her friends I feel enormous as they’re all diddy and stunning. It’s my own head that does this – they don’t even consider it (and hate the fact that I do) but for some reason with this gang of chums, I feel enormous and ugly and tend to avoid going with them. So that insecure fat kid is still in my head somewhere. But most of the time I shut the bitch up with chocolate. Honestly though – I am who I am now – take me or leave me – I think I look pretty fucking good most of the time.

Have you tried dieting? What happened?
I dieted for the first time in order to get pregnant with my first child. I lost 6 stone but still had a way to go when I accidentally got knocked up. I had gestational diabetes with that baby and it got worse with my second pregnancy so I did Weight watchers a few times, trying to stave off Type II diabetes. With Weightwatchers, I always start great guns – really careful – really competitive to lose as much as I can. I’ll usually lose about 3 stone and then I just get bored. It’s dull. So I leave and inevitably the weight comes back. But I’ve never gone back to the weight I was before I got pregnant. I’m still 3.5 stone lighter than I was back then. Last year I decided to stop it. I was fed up with it. I haven’t dieted for over a year now, despite getting diagnosed with Type II. I keep thinking I should – but I have maintained the weight I’m at now for a year. I’m only about 7lbs more than I was the last time I stopped doing WW so I feel this is ok at the moment. 

Do you think in your case your weight is partly or entirely genetic?
I think it’s genetic in part. I also eat too much and don’t exercise. But the women in my family are massive. 

Do you consider yourself healthy? Have there been instances where people assumed you were unhealthy?
No but because I smoke more than because I’m fat! But I’m fitter than I have been – in fact probably fittest I’ve ever been. I need to exercise more and I know my diabetes will improve. But I have a life and two kids to deal with and I must admit my eating and health gets shoved down to the bottom of the priority list.

Are your parents both supportive of you at the weight you’re at? Have they always been?
My mum desperately didn’t want my sister and I to be overweight like she was, so made a big deal about healthy eating NO puddings, only fruit. Healthy portions. Which meant that at the first opportunity, I was down the sweet shop indulging in the forbidden. She lost six stone at the age of about 65 – before that she’d always been yo-yoing but basically big – she was even a Weightwatchers leader but nothing had worked. Then she got a heart condition and lost the weight to have an operation. And it changed her life and she became obsessive. She counts points constantly and weighs everything she puts in her mouth. She exercises three times a week (she’s 76) and her life revolves around food. She tries not to “comment” but she does. And I know she’d like me to lose weight. And she can say one thing that will make me feel like a hippo without even realising she’s done it. I call her out on it though! I know she loves me. And hates the idea that she makes me feel bad about myself. But she has had a love hate relationship with food all her life and it has and does affect me.

How do you think retailers can improve clothes for plus-size people?
Probably they could make more choice available but then again, I remember when I was a teenager in the 80s and had hardly ANY options – it seems so much better now than it was then. There are so many places I can shop and I’m older and less trend conscious than a lot of the women who’ve answered this – and my taste in clothing is quite well catered for!

Do you think plus-size women are judged differently than plus-sized men are? How?
Yes. I think it’s easier for larger men. In my career as an actor (though it’s changing now – yay Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson), there were hardly any parts for fat women in TV and film. I knew a couple of men my size who were working all the time and there seemed to be more out there. All stereotypes but still....I do think women are fat shamed much more than men. Especially women celebrities.

Do you think there’s an assumption made/stereotype that exists about plus-size people? How would you respond to it?
Yes that I’m funny. Or lazy. My life is chaotic. I have 2 kids with ADHD – I’m constantly running round after them. I wish I could be lazy. But I also think people make assumptions about EVERYBODY based on physical appearance – whether all black teenagers are assumed to be criminal or all blonde pretty girls are assumed to be thick. It’s not just fat.

Do you think there’s ever a right way or time to express concern about someone’s weight?
NO! Mind your own business.

What are the worst things people have said to you about your body?
I’ve been called so many names when I was younger....had people in the street shout shit at me – the worst comment I ever got – and I’ve never forgotten it – was at school, said to me by a boy I had a crush on and he said “The sins of the father are vested on the children and your dad must have done something awful to make you look like that”. It’s utterly cruel and horrible and I wish I could forget he said it but I can’t.... 

How did you respond?
Nowadays if people yell at me I ignore it or just shout fuck off. To be honest, there are so many more plus sized people out there these days – I always used to feel like the only fatty in town but nowadays we’re everywhere! At school I used to laugh it off then cry when I was alone. Now I find it quite pathetic when total strangers try and insult you. I mean really? Get a life - I find if you pity someone it takes away all power to offend or upset you.

What have people said (or do you wish they’d say) that would compliment your body or appearance?
I get compliments plenty thanks. Especially since finding the confidence to dress the way I like (thank you fat blogging community). And attending amazing swaps where I get fab clothes. I understand my body. I know how to dress it. I think I’m pretty and so do quite a lot of other people as they tell me. I do miss my waist. I used to get amazing compliments on my hourglass figure which has now disappeared due to two caesarean sections. I wish it would come back. Though I have had two men chat me up and give me their phone numbers at random times in the street in the last two years which I take as a massive compliment!

Do you find yourself hanging out with women who are closer to your size?
I have so many friends of all shapes, sizes, colours and creeds. I love hanging out with all of them. I do love the friends I’ve made through fatshion because they’re amazingly clever and have taught me a lot. And sometimes, someone the same size as you gets certain things that skinny peeps don’t (like chub rub) and that’s always nice to have that connection. But I don’t notice size or anything really. They’re just my friends....

How has your weight affected your sex life, if at all?
A bit if I’m honest. I wonder if my size has affected my sex drive which has always been lower than the average bear......

When you’ve been single, has your weight affected your dating life?
I suppose it did affect me at school. There was a boy who liked me and I liked him and we used to meet in secret (it was a boarding school so there weren’t that many places we could!) and I remember he got beaten up by the boys in his house for dating me so he broke it off – evil peer pressure. But it wasn’t serious. I remember it made me think about a man being embarrassed to be with me. But then my next boyfriend was the keeper. I met him at 19 and he moved in with me immediately. 23 years later we're still together. I never got the chance to really play the field and always wonder if I missed out....(not really!)

Do you feel weird if the guy you’re with only dates larger women?
Rob was never what he called a chubby chaser in the past but then I was his first proper girlfriend. He'd found skinny women attractive in the past. He fell in love with me in my entirety - body and soul and personality- and wasn’t just interested in my body (though he did like it a lot!). Apart from that I don’t know. You’re attracted to what you’re attracted to aren’t you? I like em tall and a bit geeky.....  

Do you feel weird if he’s only dated slimmer women before you?
No. If he’s fallen in love with you, you should revel in it. Size is immaterial in my opinion.

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