Reflection is a series of raw, spur-of-the-moment journal entries, usually written after an incident has stimulated irrevocable, agonising thought. Trigger warnings for this entry include fat-shaming, body-shaming, dating, hookups, self-hatred, and mention of bullying.
I just deleted all dating apps from my phone. I know it isn't as big a deal as I am making it out to be, but it is to me - at least up to the value of two different premium subscriptions, both of which I paid for because I was curious. (Who knew it kills wallets too?)
I've only just started putting myself out into the dating world. I was compelled by the threat of dying alone, which became very real after realising I have been single and a virgin for literally my entire life. My curiosity went beyond wanting to know what sex felt like. I also wanted to know what it felt like to be held, to have someone be interested in me despite by my struggles and quirks, to have a constant source of comfort, support and love to turn to and rely on when I am not strong enough.
I wanted that TATBILB experience. I wanted to carve initials into a tree. I wanted to send good morning messages. Up until now, I thought I really could. My recent experiences, however, are telling me otherwise.
I found an anonymous hookup app. Let's call it P. Having had no luck with the typical dating apps, I downloaded P because I felt like it was a way to gain experience without disclosing too much and subjecting myself to judgment of my photos. The way the app works is you put up anonymous “ads” for a hook up and connect with other people’s “ads” if they are interested. I put up an “ad” that read: “plus sized and inexperienced, looking to try and learn”. I am allowed to do that. I am allowed to want that.
Someone was interested in my “ad”, and we started chatting. It was decent, then we exchanged photos of ourselves, and he started saying he’s a small sized person, and then he said “sorry to be mean, but I think I am half the size O.O”. At which point, I wished him well and left the chat.
This is not the only size shaming experience I have had on a dating app. I've heard every variation of "I don't fuck fat chicks" (copied and pasted; he literally matched me to say just this) - so many that it doesn't phase me anymore. A friend of mine once told me that I had a cannot-be-bullied vibe about me. I guess, as a plus sized woman, I should be grateful for that. (Pls tell me the sarcasm translates.) Hindsight is always 20/20, and now, I feel like it’s a good thing, at least, that he said that then and not when we meet to hook up. I can already imagine his reaction if that’s what his real attitude is. As much as I hate to say it, this is really setting me back a lot, and I just can’t help but question if I don’t deserve to love and be loved. And this thought has been brewing in the back of my mind, successfully dragging me into complete breakdowns, followed by a wet pillow and an empty tissue box.
What I hate even more is that I am allowing this to set me back, because it didn't before. Until I started putting myself out into the dating world, this did not bother me. I did not feel the need for a partner. I still wanted that happily ever after, but the factor that changed was that I am now actively and consciously in search for one.
I think I always have been on a quest for a constant all my life, and the way that a constant comes through in my mind is a relationship. Even with one of my longtime friends. We really understood each other, we were together a lot, we were close, I think I overcompensated into the friendship with my desire for a constant. My expectations grew because I inadvertently deemed this person to be my constant without his knowledge or consent, and in doing so, I become too possessive of the relationship and slowly manufactured an unhealthy perspective that they mean more to me than i do to them. And because of this tendency, my expectations for a partner with real romantic potential grew even more. I essentially started digging a hole for myself. This, coupled with the size shaming online, I really am beginning to nosedive into a dark pit of self-hatred.
From one shaming experience to another, I started feeling the need to pre-empt potential partners on P of my size and the way I look, like I had a contagious STD or something. I said I had my doubts, but truthfully, I know I am worthy of love. I know I deserve to feel beautiful and to be treated with decency, appreciation and respect. I think I just didn't know that in my journey towards that goal, that I also deserved to be shamed - to expect it and then accept it.
But really, don't. My point of sharing this isn't to say we should concede. My point is to shed light on the subtle fat-shaming that happens, that gets swept under the carpet because we're embarrassed or afraid, that then contributes to larger mental health issues that we are left to afford and fend for.
If you have, like me, put yourself in a position of vulnerability in order to step out of a shell or dip your toes in the water, then that in itself deserves to be applauded. But that does not mean you need to stand in the line of fire with nothing more than the shell on your back and a wounded self-esteem. Exiting a situation or backing out to heal is a sign of courage. When it gets overwhelming, take a step back and take a deep breath. I do this to prioritise my mental health, because breakdowns are not fun, and because I do not need to subject myself to the pain, and neither do you.
Love to everyone who is struggling too.