Plus Size Dating: Is it Really Black & White?

Photography by Kaye Ford

(Wow, yet another visual that’s connected to the post subject matter? Ugh. My MIND.)

So…! Hi friends. It’s er…been a bit of a sticky couple of weeks, hasn’t it? I’ve spent a large amount of time recently ducking social media, blocking people, doing news and publication work and generally just trying to process the last two weeks.

As some of you may know, I wrote an article for Refinery29 recently about an experience that recently happened to me, and the aftermath of this was prettttty intense to say the least. It received a heavily mixed reaction: on one hand, people were incredibly sympathetic and I received messages from women all over the world who had experienced the very same cruel prank, and on the other hand you had the trolls who came out to play with statements such as “well if you weren’t such a fat piece of shit, it wouldn’t have happened to you. Fix yourself.” People are so lovely huh?

I’ve had to give myself some time to process the whole situation, as my immediate thought after I’d found out that I was the subject of a prank was to immediately swear off men and vow never to trust them again (not that I ever did in the first place tbh). I started thinking to myself, “Am I being too hard on myself? Surely dating as a plus sized person isn’t that black and white? You can’t just denounce all men as trash and swear off them forever – there are murky grey areas attached to this.”

Mmm. Meh? Kinda? Not really?

The number one question I was asked by people during the breaking of my article was ‘why are you specifying the fact that you are plus size? All women get played!’. Of course, all the women asking these were slim – as per- and have no real idea how humiliating and in some cases – traumatising – it can be to date when you are plus sized. The reason I think that dating is pretty black and white (where i’m concerned anyway) is this: I have just never been in a situation where I can be convinced otherwise. It’s purely down to experiences I’ve gone through and each one has yielded exactly the same result.

Ignore, Humiliate, Fetishise

So, I’ve spoken about the issues that a lot of us tend to face when dating in the past and to be honest, I still think that a lot of the issues I spoke about in the above piece still ring true today. Obviously I can only speak from my experience, and the virtually similar experiences of other women who have reached out to me, but the main reason why I see dating as a black and white experience for me is that the participation of the dating game almost always yields the same results: you’re either ignored, humiliated or fetishised.

Now, I like to think I’m quite open-minded, regardless of any past trauma I’ve had. I don’t like going into situations feeling wary or distrusting because it’s not progressive, and it’s extremely counter productive so anytime I am in a position where I’m trying to get to know someone (either in real life or via an app), I try as much as possible to have absolutely no expectations – which is great thing in retrospect because it’s saved me from getting hurt a tremendous amount of times. So before I break these down, I don’t want to hear ‘ohhhh Steph it’s just you! You need to open up more/get out more/settle/quit having high expectations!“. I’M FINE THX. Let’s get into these three annoying outcomes though!

Dress // Shoes (similar) // Bag (similar)

Being ignored: You know the one. You’re out with your friends having a good time, bussin a twerk and favourite virgin Pina Colada because most alcohol tastes like drain cleaner to you when suddenly, you come across a group of men on the prowl. You spot a couple of guys who could be potentials, however they are too busy gazing at your slimmer, more attractive friends to notice you in the corner, slowly bursting into flames.

Similarly, you could be on an app with your profile looking amazing. You’re witty! Funny! Smart! You’re up to date with Memes! You’ve remembered to note on your profile that you are indeed ‘Fatter IRL’ so the boys KNOW off the cuff. You’ve uploaded full length, up to date photos of yourself as not to deceive anyone when suddenly, you receive *49 new matches*. O0o0o0; popular gal! You right swipe all the potentials and send them all an individualised, funny introduction message, feeling smug and appreciated. All 49 of these guys MUST think you’re fit, right? You put your phone down, grab a cuppa and await the flurry of peens that’ll be sure to reply to your awesome message. Why not?

lol pls. Think again bitch! You pick up your phone an hour later (no notifications? wow ok rood), open up your app and see all but one person has deleted your match. It’s a real confidence buster and a kick in the tit if I’m being honest. You open your other apps and notice that all the guys who initially matched with you have since unmatched you. I mean…guys pls. wyd? The guys have clearly swiped right to all prospectives in a drunken haze but honestly lads, the shit hurts. Swipe with INTENTION.

I’ve always said that it would be a great idea if the mainstream apps and websites of today had a filter function that people had to fill out that stated their size preferences. It sounds extreme, but I honestly think it would be incredibly beneficial, and would save SO MUCH time and feelings of rejection by people who weren’t interested in bigger bodies. Still waiting to hear back from the app developers tbh…

Being Humiliated: So you open the one remaining match tab to find a horrific meme about fat women facing you on the screen, followed by a ‘haha fat bitch’ underneath. Nice. Humiliation tends to go part and parcel with dating as a fat girl to be honest. In my situation, a guy I went on a date with subsequently won £300 pounds for winning a bet to bag a fat chick.

Fat women are treated with so much contempt and are routinely dehumanised and mistreated to the point where we are seen as the butt of all jokes when it comes to dating. We can freely be told to lose weight, that we are ugly or what we are just good for sex because people don’t think about the ramifications of their actions. We apparently, don’t have feelings and deserve to be humiliated constantly because the way that we look is our fault. In movies and TV shows, it’s always the fat girl being made the butt of the jokes.

It’s always the fat girl being the subject of the dare. It’s always the fat girl falling for the unattainable hot guy, who she only ends up getting after losing 200lbs. We are seen as burdens and frankly…it hurts. There are men who hide the fact that they are attracted to bigger women, for fear of what their friends and family may think. There are men who would prefer to date bigger women in private while simultaneously insult and troll big women online and in public. It’s an absolute farce and it is not okay. What these practices show is that bigger women exist for your sexual pleasure and entertainment only. It shows that we are incapable of being girlfriend material, incapable of acting like normal people. Incapable and undeserving of being loved, and it has to stop. The humiliation has to end.

Being Fetishised: So you log into yet another app you have (spreading your bets and whatnot) and find that you have 3 messages(!) Result! You open up those three messages to find the following:

"Hey Ma. Just wanted to stop by and say that you're looking amazing. I've always had a thing for BBW women mmm yum."
"omg sit on my face while I rub my c**ck up and down then gently slide it into your chocolate folds baby."
Please please shit on my face Goddess. I aim to serve and I've always had a fantasy of a curvy black Queen extreting into my mouth. It makes me so fucking horny. Pls reply.*

*The last message is a real message I’ve actually received. Lol why r men? Feitishisation of the fat body is something that I have spoken about at length and depending on how you feel about it, it can either be extremely empowering and a booster to your confidence if you decide to go down that path, or it can be incredibly dehumanising and isolating if you’re someone (like me) who is just looking for a nice, long-term relationship with a relatively normal bloke.

Don’t get me wrong, I assume that there *are* men out there who are a lot more open minded towards bigger women. Where they are located however, who knows? But in my experiences, the three occurrences above tend to happen on a frequent basis and is the reason why I see dating as a pretty black and white process. You don’t get to have a variety of weird and wonderful opportunities pass by you when you’re a larger plus sized woman. Maybe some of you have, but I’m still waiting for my moment – if that moment ever arises. I’d be lying if I said that the whole situation didn’t in some way impact me negatively, forcing me to take an even more extremely negative view on dating than I already did, but here’s hoping that there’s someone out there who can change my mind (someone who can speak English fluently who isn’t in their 50s, or only talking to me because they want a Visa). Only time will tell.


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