I love a good disclosure.
There’s something horribly human about laying down my secrets and insecurities at someone else’s feet. I don’t mind disclosing my mental illnesses, my chronic illness, or my disabilities. My life experiences, goals, plans, and failures are equally up for grabs.
Conversations are the key to change, to understanding, and they are my favorite way to explore others’ perspectives.
There is one subject that I feel uncomfortable discussing with strangers: my size.
As a person who is afraid of men, I appreciate online dating. I have the chance to probe a man’s mind and discover his intentions before agreeing to meet him – and if he skeeves me out at any point, I delete him without mercy. It’s perfect, it feels safer than picking men up at the bar, and I’m great with words. Online dating plays to my strengths.
But as a lady of size, online dating is also daunting.
Here I am, in my Coke bottle, thick-tummied body. The only body I’ve ever worn. The body that’s consistently survived even when I tried to end my life, even through every assault, even through chronic pain and illness and despair. Above all else, I’ve lived.
I have a complicated relationship with my body, but I know there’s no way to hide it from potential suitors. Thus, the body disclosure.
In every profile, I list myself as ‘curvy’ and/or ‘a few pounds extra’ in the body type section. I am not trying to hide any aspect of myself – what would the point of that be? – but, like everyone, I chose pictures of myself that I deem most acceptable.
Eventually I bring it back up to my suitors.
“Listen, I need to make sure you understand something. I’m very curvy. If you’re looking for a petite girl, you’re going to need to look elsewhere.”
Many of them are surprised. 90% ask how curvy I am and ask for a picture. Then I acquiesce, feeling more disgusted by the moment, and wait.
I’ve never had a man tell me I’m too curvy for him. I’m privileged in that sense – my fat is deemed more or less acceptable most of the time. I’m okay for a casual date, in other words, but I am willing to bet that pursuing serious relationships with these men would not work out in my favor. It used to scare me, the idea that men would never seriously love me because of my size. But not anymore, or at least not right now. I’m a party trick, someone you hang out with in dark bars and alleys but you don’t bring out to a football game with your buds.
After all, that would require you to explain why you’re holding hands with a fat girl.
So I disclose my body and I feel sick every time. I reduce myself to a picture. I present men the outline of my frame, then wait for their decision. Am I still worth knowing despite my size? Are they willing to wash away hours of conversation because my stomach isn’t flat?