Friday, 9 March 2012

"Fat Em"

This post is not (at all) about fashion. This is a post about one of my experiences as a single, fat girl, so if you've had some crappy experiences with dating and don't fancy reading one of mine, please feel free to skip this post. Ultimately, there is light in this post. His name is Mr. Darcy and he is wonderful... But, if you like, skip this one and come back in a couple days when fashion will abound. I've already taken the photos and they are AMAZING. xxx.
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I read a really interesting blog in these last two weeks about Plus Size dating over at Confused Brit... I thought I might post one on my experiences and thoughts.

I think lots of people - fat or thin - can have similar experiences with dating. It can be wonderful and fun, as well as daunting and uncertain - no matter what your size. For myself, I've never really believed in being "in" or "out" of anyone's league, and for me, as a plus size girl, I never really saw my size as something that stopped my ability to meet someone. I did sometimes wonder "Will he like a fat girl?", but I never really let my being overweight stop me from having a bash at dating. Mind you, I seemed to spend most of my twenties perpetually single, with only a few boyfriends dotted here and there. Only one of them was great. The one I've ended up with.

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I think self-esteem and self-worth are the keys to good dating. I really, really do. That seems such a simple thing to write, but as I never really realised - and, therefore, never really IMPLEMENTED - this until I was about 27, I know it just ain't that simple. I always had confidence to say hello or chat to people. I went on dates, too - some lovely, some horrendous. I never really connected with anyone the way I wanted to, though, so, through my twenties, I sometimes felt a little bit lonely. I had super-fantastic friends, and in many ways embraced my single self with a great (sometimes outrageous!) gusto. But I DID want someone special. I DID want to be someone's princess. My early twenties were good, but certainly there were times that were a bit grim. You see, I tolerated far too much. (Picture, left, from 1999).

Now, rather than go on a painful diatribe about my dating experiences circa 2000 - 2007, I might just discuss one particular incident. Not a great incident, but one SOME of you may relate to. An incident that all of you will read and likely think "Why did she tolerate that?". Well, confidence and self-esteem are not the same thing. To me, these days, I would rather be vulnerable and a little uncertain with PILES of self-esteem. For me - in dating - self-esteem and self-worth made all the difference.

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Back in about 2005, I'd been seeing someone for about five months when I asked him if I could look in his phone to pick up a message I'd sent him. We were at a pub and were about to head to someone's home; I knew I'd texted him the exact address earlier in the day... with his permission, I went into the phone, opened the messages and there it was. My text. And there was my name, just as he'd saved it:

"Fat Em".

Shock. Such shock. Like a slap.

I looked at him and asked, "Do you have me saved in your phone as 'Fat Em'?" His eyes opened wide. I handed him back the phone and walked out of the pub.

Such humiliation. Even now, this recollection - which is maybe SEVEN years old - still makes me feel a little sick. I didn't answer his calls after that: I just went home, went to my room and cried and cried. My housemates gingerly approached my door, but I ignored them - I felt so humiliated and alone.

I didn't know how I could admit and tell anyone that I'd discovered how my "boyfriend" had saved me as "Fat Em" in his phone... I just didn't want to be humiliated. 

I also didn't want my friends not to like HIM. (ARGH!!!)

Hours later, he eventually came to my house and apologised. He said he'd just saved it that way when we'd met, as a joke, and it didn't mean anything. He told me that I meant something to him and he was sorry. I asked him why, after months of being together, he hadn't changed it...

There was no reason.

It hurt so much. I felt humiliated, embarrassed and betrayed by someone I trusted (trusted not just with my body, but with my heart and mind). All too quickly, I forgave him. Kind of. For some reason I desperately wanted to be with him, and so sort of let it pass. But I never really forgot it. I wonder now if I really just didn't want to feel alone.

Now, fact is, I am fat. Yes! That's fine. But for him to have me saved as "Fat Em", well, it wasn't meant in any endearing or loving way - he did it to laugh at me. And not in an inclusive "taking-the-piss-out-of-each-other" way. I wasn't in on the joke. I WAS the joke. He was laughing in a mean way. Full stop. It took me ages to accept that though; to realise he could write that and I could walk away without feeling guilty about what he'd done. I didn't need him to think I was okay in order to actually be OKAY. We were together for a little while after that... ultimately, though, it didn't last.

The first time a boy I was seeing described me negatively as "fat" was when I was about 17, the last time when I was about 27. And that was pretty much it for me. At 27, I started looking at all the things I'd forgiven in dating. I looked at what I accepted and who I'd let into my life and saw little REAL worth in any of it. Experiences? Yes. Definitely. Some wonderful moments had occurred, but so too had some really awful ones: NONE of the men were worth the inevitable upsets which were caused each time. And I decided my heart deserved more. Needed better. My self-esteem with men was pretty shattered and I had trust issues. But then... something lifted. At age 28, I decided I wouldn't spend time with anyone who didn't treat me as I should have been treated. Treated me what I was worth.

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2007... Around the time I started asking myself, "What am I worth?"

After that realisation, it was a hard road. There was one night I was out, dressed up, looking really nice and a guy came up to me, told me I was beautiful and asked if he could buy me a drink. My eyes suddenly glowered viciously and I demanded, "Is this a dare?!" He retreated, terrified by my obvious vitriol. Later, after he'd left, one of his female friends came up to me and gently told me she'd seen what'd happened, and that he was a good guy. She smiled and said, "You look really beautiful and seemed really smiley and confident. He really did just want to buy you a drink".

I thought about that incident a lot afterwards. It was my self-esteem that made me worried and suspicious. I felt confident in myself as a person and thought I looked okay, but my self-esteem had taken a battering: I just didn't know how to trust someone or really believe in myself. I suddenly felt a real need to control situations and desperately tried to, but, of course, that's impossible. So, with the idea of what I was "worth" to myself, I kept on.

Apart from a couple of non-descript dates, fleeting flirtations and superficial interests, nothing much happened for a while. I liked to think something could've happened at any moment, but I didn't really want it to. I wanted something that made me feel right.

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2008. Living for myself. Enjoying Life. Purple Highlights. Feeling Better.

I met Mr. Darcy in April, three months before I turned 30. I hadn't had a boyfriend in well over a year and none of my dates had led anywhere during that time. We went out a couple of times and each time my heart would leap a bit. He was a gentleman and he took me on dates and clearly wanted to know who I was. We would email a lot and talk on the phone and soon we were spending loads and loads of time together. There was no pressure. I slowly told him about my life and experiences, good and bad, and he would just listen to me. Darcy made me feel - and still makes me feel - safe. I mentioned briefly in THIS POST about letting Darcy see my "self-conscious bits", like my little belly. In those moments, my confidence would give way to vulnerability, but, that was okay as my self-esteem and my self-worth (and, indeed, my Mr. Darcy) were taking care of me.

When I was due to meet Darcy's parents, I asked him (kind of in passing, but still seriously) if he'd told them I was fat. He looked confused and told me that he'd told them I was lovely. Even now, when I very occasionally say, "Do I look really fat today?", he'll smile at me and tell me I look really gorgeous. He knows about my past experiences - and he lets me have these vulnerable moments. Vulnerable moments are okay.

Darcy and I now live together and will be at our three year mark next month.

For me, finding Darcy wasn't about confidence so much as it was about my self-esteem and self-worth. I am in love with him and I know he loves me back.

Now, clearly, my man and I like each other and are attracted to each other. But, ultimately, in finding Darcy and navigating away from bad choices and dates, I had waited for him. I had waited to meet a man who treated me what I was worth. It was THEN that I also made sure I liked him and loved him.

In being with Darcy, my confidence and self-esteem have absolutely grown.

He was worth waiting for.

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Finally... a photo, after all this time I've been blogging! My Mr. Darcy and I!

If you're in the dating world, just know that one day it will suddenly be really, really easy... maybe even a little bit scary as you realise what you have and how much you want to hold on to it. When you experience something like that, that's probably when it's about right. You should feel like a princess.

It is worth it.



(Oh yeah, Darcy also takes pretty much EVERY photo on this blog for me. This whole blog couldn't exist without him. He is AMAZING).

29 comments:

  1. You must be one of the most attractive couples I've ever seen... phwoar, what beautiful people! Seriously, I already knew you were gorgeous, but he's pretty too and you're adorable together :)

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  2. This was a lovely read Emma, thanks for sharing your experiences. I love this photo of you and your Mr Darcy you BOTH make a beautiful couple. xXx

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  3. Oh Em, what a wonderful post!

    I had a long reply all written out here, but it got eaten.

    Suffice to say you are right, we are great, and your boyfriend is hot.

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  4. Thank you for sharing. Can really relate.. as someone who has gone thru many similar times (and dates) in her life. I`m so happy you found your Mr. Darcy. You look so sweet together. ^^<3
    MMxoxo

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  5. Your experience mirrors much of my dating life. The old you're so pretty but you need to lose weight. You'd be hot if you lost weight. My now husband treats me like a princess when most men wouldn't. I sometimes don't think I deserve it. Treats me well. Loves my children as if they were his. Provides a house more beautiful than I think I deserve at times. It's hard to deprogram even though I had waited for someone who adored me.

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  6. Great post, Em.

    I split from my husband in 2005, I met a guy through online dating and we dated for a few months, it was a rebound fling I suppose. When we were dating I was dieting furiously, and I had lost 3 dress sizes. But the end came for Daz and I, when in bed one night he turned and said to me 'Whatever you do don't lose your fat arse!' I was gutted, here was this bloke who was supposed to care about me saying hurtful stuff like that! Needless to say within a few weeks he was gone, and I was glad to see the back of him, he was controlling, and made me feel guilty if I missed a gym session or ate a biscuit! I met a wonderful guy after Daz, and we've been married for 3 years, and I've never been happier. I put the weight back on, by the way and I've finally at nearly 41 accepted myself the way I am! FAT!

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  7. I always admired your confidence with dating. I've fond memories of chatting about some halirious situations back in Sydney and thinking 'I wish I was like em'

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  8. Em - such an amazing post! As someone who finds themselves single again at 32 and not been in the dating pool since her early 20's, I am looking at all these kinds of self esteem issues and vulnerabilities (and how easily it could be to confuse the two) in a whole new light. I think we all have struggles like yours, and I commend youfor being willing to share yours and inspire others. I am so so happy for you and mr. Darcy and excited to find the one I will feel like a princess with even when my belly is exposed (literally and figuratively). Thanks!

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  9. I totally understand where your coming from on this one and after many failed dates and almost turning 30 i have decided to enjoy myself, love myself and leave it to the universe to know when i am truly ready only then will they put my "Mr Darcy" on my path lol you two make a lovely couple, amd love is a beautiful thing xoxo

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  10. What a lovely post, and so nice to see more of "you" rather than just your fashion. When you told me about the "Fat Em" thing I couldn't believe it, I couldn't see how it was funny in any light and was just bloody rude.
    I think your dating experiences are pretty much on akin with "slim" people, everybody has good and bad dates, meets good and bad people etc. I'm very lucky in that I skipped all that crap and found my husband when I was 19, but I always thought nobody would want me as I was too fat, too ugly etc!
    When you look at people who the masses would consider as perfect looking, very slim & pretty etc, such as the many celebrities (Cheryl Cole etc), none of them seem to have long lasting great relationships with partners, yet I know many "fat" people and people who do not conform to the stereotypical image of beauty that we are dtrip fed, who are blissfully happy in their relationships even years into them, such as my fat husband and me (18 years on!!)

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  11. Em, thank you so much for this post. I was crying by the end of it. I have not been on a single date in 7 years -- which perfectly coincides with gaining 50 pounds from medication. While reading your post it became clear to me just how much pain, self-loathing, and desperate fear of humiliation I've been harboring since my weight gain. I am the only overweight person in my family, and even my mother no longer thinks I'm beautiful since I gained the weight -- so you can see that I am not getting positive body image messages from my nearest and dearest. But I want to love myself as I am and try to believe that there is a good man out there who will do the same. Again, thank you for opening up and sharing your story!

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  12. Awww such a lovely post, and really hit a few chords. What a bellend was that 'Fat Em' guy, and I bet a million dollars he wasn't nearly as attractive as Mr. Darcy.
    I was once rejected by a boy during my teens specifically because of my fatness. I felt like wanting to die - and almost achieved it -, but ten years later, I'm now with the best husband in the world who loves me because of everything about me, while that boy who rejected me has still never had a girlfriend! Plus, looking back, he was fuck ugly.
    KayTee makes a valid point in her comment, about 'attractive' celebrities not having steady relationships. Maybe because many of the relationships aren't real in the first place? You know, they only pretend they're dating just to get the paparazzi, etc. and many of them have shit personalities like my high school crush and the Fat Em guy. And who knows how many closeted (in gender preferences, race preferences, and yes, even size preferences) celebrities are there. You know, someone dating Kate Moss who would actually prefer dating Kate Winslet circa Titanic but is afraid of society's remarks and losing deals and opportunities? Sad, but true.

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  13. Oh, you've made me both smile and sort of cry reading this! I'm so incredibly honoured that my musings prompted such a fantastic post, because this really was a great read....

    The bit where you described feeling like you were in a good place, and mostly were, but the old self esteem had taken a bit of a knocking, well thats where I am now...I didnt even realise until someone pointed it out that I may, just may be scaring perfectly good men away with my killer 'get the hell away from me glares', so I'm now trying to be more open and not so grrrrsome.

    I think, or at least the fat girls I've talked about dating with, all have some guy that we adored but yet very much so saw the fat in us rather than all the other wonderful qualities that we've got...mine was someone whom regularly would utter 'but you're not physically attractive' but then would go onto wax lyrical about various features I've got which are indeed lovely.

    But it really did fill me with hope ti read about all of your experiences, and how you've managed to get yourself such a damn right lovely person (because clearly you deserve someone as awesome as you.)

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  14. This is an amazing post...You deserve to be treated like a queen & Im glad you found someone who loves you for you! Kudos to you!!!

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  15. Your blogs are a gift from heaven, Em! xx

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  16. Em,

    What a fantastic post. So much of what you said rang true with me.

    I was very badly bullied in school, really awful bullying that cuts right into your soul and every day kills you a little more. During my late teens early 20's I wondered if every man just saw me as a fat pretty girl or did they see the real me???

    In my mid 20's I cam across a nasty e-mail my boss sent to some else poking fun at me and my weight(By mistake it was sent as a griup email). God, that left me in bits. I remember crying so much that I was sick. Crying on Sunday nigth as I had to go to work on Monday morning and look at this man, living for Friday but when it arrived dreading it as it would soon be Monday again. Needless to say I left that job as soon as I could and finally I started to believe in me and fall in love with myself.

    I could look in the mirror and see that beautiful, funny, cool girl looking back with beautiful red hair and really blue eyes.

    I did have a slip up and fall for a asshole for a while but I could see he didn't love or value me the way a man should. I was the right now girlfriend but not the right girlfriend. I dumped him much to his fury and decided that that was it!! No more dating for at least 6 months. 3 weeks later I met Mr Big and 12 years later, 8 of which we are married. I am totally, truely , deeply loved, every second of every day in a way that I deserve to be. To me meeting him was like coming home. He is my sun, moon and stars and I make him feel strong, handsome, loved, valued and brave and he makes me feel beautiful, sexy, honest,valued,funny,positive and most of all he makes me whole.

    Emma, you are truely one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen and your Mr Darcy is so lucky to have you as you are to have him. I wish you love, luck, health and joy.

    Caroline xx

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  17. You and Mr Darcy are a gorgeous looking couple and I love what you're willing to share of what is obviously a beautiful relationship.

    Size is such an irrelevant part of so many things and yet it seeps in under the cracks that we all have and can swamp things.

    I recommended your blog to a friend today because it was your posts that encouraged me to start dressing for myself again instead of just to hide, and at my biggest I was only ever an Aus14 and am now a 10 and yet that self esteem as you said was the hardest one to find.

    Can't wait for the fashion pics!

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  18. Is it weird that I kind of got all excited that you posted a picture of Mr Darcy? *is a weirdo*

    This post was amazing read, thank you for sharing it. My whole dating experience is pretty nonexistent. Adam was my first boyfriend, and it was 6 years later I left him. So I guess now I have to trial out the whole dating thing. But for now, I'm focusing on me.

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  19. I really love this post and can relate to it so much. I still struggle with my self esteem but I definitely put on the air of high self esteem to outsiders because I'm petrified to get hurt like I've been hurt in the past. When I was younger dating was fun at times and other times it was just horrid, I always felt like I wasn't good enough because of my weight and I always felt like my weight was something that had to be seriously addressed before I gave someone a chance because I did not want to deal with the rejection or the "I'm just not attracted to you" conversation or "if you were thinner" thing.

    I'm so sorry to hear about some of the things you went through, they sound awful and I don't understand it because I think you are absolutely drop dead gorgeous just as you are. I'm so glad you found your Mr. Darcy, he is quite a handsome fella and it sounds like you two have an amazing relationship. I found myself a good man myself but I'm still so hard on myself, he tells me I'm gorgeous all the time and I know he loves me no matter what size I am.

    Thanks so much for posting this, you are a true inspiration.

    <3Honeysuckelle

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  20. Everyone can relate to this regadless of size, it doesn't matter how you look EVERYONE has felt this way.

    I remember my ex fiance telling me he wished he had "chosen" Miss X instead of "settling" for me. This hurt for two reasons. First, and most obvious, to be told this is brutal. I felt rejected and humiliated, no one wants to be second choice.

    The second reason? I had stayed in a relationship with him about 6 months longer than I should because he was depressed and told me he wanted to kill himself. Oh the irony. He had hit me a couple of times "by accident" and begged and pleaded it was his depression, his lack of self esteem...I won't bore you with the crap he came out with.

    As I sat there in his parents garden being told I was second choice and his life would be perfect if only he had Miss X in his life and not me I was overwhelmed by the pain of rejection but still couldn't walk away from him. He looked so sad, so lost. And let's be honest here, what would I do, where would I go, would I ever meet anyone else?

    A week later he was feeling so overwhelmed by his fear of failing his degree his logical conclusion was to he beat the hell out of me. This time I packed and left. That day with no where to go, 250 miles from home.

    That was 26 years ago. I am now married to a man who makes me happy every day. He wanted ME from the moment he saw me and still does.

    There is this kind of someone for everyone, I absolutely beleive this. Thanks for the post beautiful Em, and reminding me of this.

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  21. I need to write and say THANK YOU so much to everyone who has been commenting. I wish this blog let me reply directly to each of you. I will take time to go through and respond through this coming week. I just want to say your response has meant a LOT to me and has made me feel so close to so many amazing women. I love that we are all different and all at different stages in life, but ultimately are all so alike too.

    I can't tell you how much your responses mean to me.

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  22. Beautiful! Made me cry, as I have been there. As a large lady I have finally come to a place where I don't just "settle" ,as I am worth more than that. Its been a long road though,and many tears. But I have recently met someone who doesn't seem to have the word"fat" in his vocabulary! Yeah .Could also be that I was finally ready to be seen as other than fat.
    I enjoy your blog,and wish you well!
    Pamela-Marie ,London UK

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  23. I too can relate. It took me being through the dating mill and finally time with an absolute douche to make me realise how far my self-esteem and self-worth had fallen. I had a period of celibacy for 2 years in which I worked out a lot of things - what I deserved, what I wanted - and I met my fella a couple of days before my 29th birthday. We get married in just over 3 weeks.

    He loves me as I am (I wish I could say the same for his mum!!) and I'm glad I never settled for a miserable life. Lots of future happiness to you and Mr Darcy! xoxo

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  24. oh Em! You are so beautiful, inside and out! Thank-you for sharing this with us. I think every woman, regardless of size has a horror story like this, relationships can be hard and like you said, the most beautiful woman is the woman who believes in and loves herself.

    You are so amazingly wonderful and you deserve all the happiness in the world. I am so happy that you have met Mr Darcy, he sounds perfect :) xxx

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  25. I'm very late to this party but this is a great post indeed. Glad you found your Mr Darcy and that you are so happy!

    w x

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  26. Hi Em, Mr. Darcy is one lucky guy! This is such an inspirational post - thank you for sharing!

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  27. He is VERY lucky!

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  28. Aurgh you are reading my mind!!!
    I love your blog, have only discovered it this morning - through searching 'wide legged black pants" - true story!
    So expect many comments form me on your posts, hehe.
    The incident in the bar - I can DEFINITELY relate. I was with my boyfriend and our male friend at a pub, and went up to get a round at the bar. The bar was fairly quiet, and a guy came up at the same time and started talking to me. I was very guarded but polite, and then when I went back to our booth, my bf and our friend started telling me that the guy was hitting on me. I was really indignant and told them that it would have been a dare, and him and his friends were probably laughing at me now. They kept going on about it and they didn't seem to understand that no, "guys do not hit on me unless its a joke, or they think I'm easy because I'm fat". Looking back, that guy probably was hitting on me, or perhaps just being friendly. Isn't it wonderful when your outlook on yourself changes? :D
    You and your man look so lovely together and happy!

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  29. Thank you, you're right, I think I needed to hear that. I think most of us in the "plus sized" category have ended up with some suspicion of men's motives when approached (The once (or multiple) bitten, twice shy thing and all that. I've been known to slap guys that I know are definitely on dares to make them think twice about trying it again- it amazes me that they obviously think my hearing is defective, I may be plus sized but I'm definitely not deaf or stupid).

    The last time someone offered to buy me a drink saying he loved my curves, was quite a good looking guy in a bar with lots of super skinny pretty women around and I refused thinking it was his idea of a joke or he thought I was going to be an "easy" prospect. I don't know maybe it was, maybe not, I never gave him a chance. I turned him down repeatedly as I saw him around over the next few days which lead him to finally exclaim about what was wrong with me, someone must have really screwed me up if I couldn't even take a simple compliment.

    The truth is, I haven't even been on a date in years, just can't see why someone would pick me over another. I'm confident in myself, and will generally do what I want when it affects only me, but when it comes to accepting that other's may be able to see beyond skin deep, I shy away and get very mistrusting and evasive which is not always doing them any justice either.

    Thanks, I'll try to take your advice and I'm really very happy for you that you've found a great partner :)

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Hi there! Thank you for leaving your post. Due to some blatantly obvious spammers I have had to turned comment moderation back on with word captcha for older posts. Hopefully the spammers will bugger off and I can take some of the settings back to normal quickly! Thank you and smooches! Em. x