No, My Boyfriend Isn’t “Settling” For A Plus-Size Girl

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So, my boyfriend is skinny and I’m definitely not. But, one of the hardest things about being in a “mixed weight” relationship is other people and their opinions (and projections). While I don’t often hear comments about my weight when I’m alone, I do get a very strong message about my weight in the context of my dating life. The message comes in many forms, but it’s always the same: “You do not deserve to be with him.”

Sometimes, the message is delivered via a flirty waitress at a restaurant who smiles at him while scribbling my order — it’s straight out of a movie. Other times, the message comes from a smiling face that says, “You’re a VERY lucky girl…” Is that a backhanded compliment?

Before I met him, people warned me — both implicitly and outright — that because I opted to only date the men I found attractive (novel idea, right?), that I was a “superficial fat chick.” They said if a guy was attracted to me, I should be grateful! But, I didn’t listen. I kept my standards high started dating a Dwyane Wade look-a-like.

No, My Boyfriend Isn't Settling For A Plus-Size Girl

Body politics and dating are very tricky because people have opinions on who should be dating whom, but most of these opinions are often built on myths and judgments they subscribe to — even though they’d be too embarrassed to say them out loud. One myth is that only thin people are attractive. For some people, “fat” is synonymous with “ugly,” — I’ve been called “fatandugly” before, almost as if it was one word.

Another one? That a woman must be smaller than the man she’s with. If he’s dating a big girl, he’s settling. Why don’t we ever give big men a hard time for dating slender women? Or vice-versa? What if he’s head-over-heels attracted to her? What if their emotional connection and understanding of each other is breathtaking? Should he pass that all up because she’s fat?

These crazy myths will have us thinking we don’t “match” with certain people even if they’re interested in us — what does that even mean? As a big girl, I work so hard to manage my body image issues and I work even harder not to let those issues ruin my relationships. 

I’ve seen too many of my Plus-Size Princesses convince themselves that they’re not worthy of certain types of guys, when that’s just not true. I don’t care what you look like, if Channing Tatum is interested in you, there is something attractive about you, so please grab a dress that hugs your curves and do what you need to do. 

Most of us are sitting here with so much love and positivity to give, but instead of focusing on our beauty, wherever it lies, we absorb all the snide remarks and snickers from insecure people and let that dictate our dating decisions. When a girl tries to hit on my boyfriend right in front of my face, I can internalize it and say it’s because I’m too fat for him. Or, I can understand that women who go after other peoples boyfriend’s — right in front of them, no less — might be insecure that they don’t have someone of their own.

As I mentioned in this post, some of us have a bad habit of embracing the negative things we hear about ourselves. It’s easy to listen to the single people yapping about who we shouldn’t be dating because of how we look, but when we find someone who embraces us as we are, we owe it to ourselves to embrace them back.

I brought this topic up to my Dwyane Wade doppleganger the other day — in the context of us as a couple. “You know some people think we… don’t match,” I said. “Yeah,” he replied, “they’re probably wondering how I convinced you to date me.”

My original post can be found on Refinery29.com

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  • Valerie

    This is so true. Don’t even bother with those types of comments those kind of people make… I’ve been told also that once I’d be at a regular size, I could date anyone I like.

    • CeCe Olisa

      I will never understand why people think those kinds of comments are okay… augh.

  • Bee.

    Your doppelganger has a talent with words as well :-)

    • CeCe Olisa

      Awwww yes, he has his moments :-D

  • Karina

    I gave into this self depreciation. I convinced myself that I would be “worthy” of being with this guy that I liked once I was skinnier like he was so that we would “match”. I was blind to the fact that he really liked me as I am now, curvy and all. Now he is dating someone else. *sigh*

    • CeCe Olisa

      *sigh* sometimes we get in our own way with that kind of thinking– hopefully when the next guy comes along you’ll be in a better place ;-)

  • Robin Michael Rush

    I like what your boyfriend said. Most men I’ve dated wouldn’t say that. After many dates and two failed marriages, I gave up on men. I’m much older (and wiser) now, able to recognize the ‘be grateful I’m even talking to you’ attitude from men. So I bypass them. I am truly happy for you. A lot of available men like women who are plus size not because of their size but because they are able to see so much more in us.

    • CeCe Olisa

      You’re so right…

  • Tamara

    First things first….
    1) girl you look gorgeous! (seriously)
    2) In the words of the wise girl group from the early 2000’s, haters gon’ hate.
    3) I hate society’s definition of *matching*. Irritates me. I struggled for years with an eating disorder and I wish someone would open their mouth about whether I physically match my significant other.
    4) Your Dwayne Wade boo is a genius for saying what he said!

    • CeCe Olisa

      1.) *blush*
      2.) Yesss 3LW
      3.) RIght???
      4.) He definitely got points on that one ;-)

  • Cat

    This couldn’t have come at a better time. I have just begun my journey to loving exactly who I am now. The other day I found myself saying to my beautiful, loving, supportive and always positive man – “you could do so much better” – I realized what I was really saying was “you could do thinner” – and right there I realized I needed to work on me. That is how I found this blog. Oh, and his response “yes you could, but don’t”
    Thank you so much CeCe

    • CeCe Olisa

      Wow… yes, do the hard work now and do it for yourself. You’ve got this, Cat! xx

  • Grunts&Glam

    I love this story. You’re so right about people absorbing negativity. What’s sad is, so many of us are so unhappy that we take it out on other people. It could be anything. If it’s not that you’re too fat then you’re too skinny or in my case I got that I was too shapely or it’s you’re ugly or too short, etc. It’s annoying but I’m glad that I’ve learned not to internalize people negativity. It sucks for them that they’re so insecure that they have to go out of their way to be nasty to someone else. Smh. Anyway, I’m glad that you are keeping it moving with your fierceness.

  • http://www.CurvyGirlInc.com/ Chrystal Bougon

    Just shared this with my curvies. This kind of stuff drives me nuts. LOVE IS LOVE. What size either partner is NO ONE’s business. Thanks for this!

  • Gabrielle Hudson

    So this stems to an issue I’ve been meaning to email you about. A long lost friend of mine who I used to have a big crush on in high school reconnected with me recently. He told me that I was beautiful and said any guy would be lucky to have me. I realized that I had never heard either one of those things from ANY man before. So long story short I asked my fiancé if he thought I was beautiful and his response was that he didn’t think anything was beautiful because something had to be perfect in order for it to be considered beautiful by him. So all those times through my life when I was called fatandugly and I had to console myself with the thought of my future husband at least thinking I was beautiful came back. I feel shallow saying this when I know I have so much to offer as a person and that’s why he’s with me but I felt so unattractive when I knew he would never think that I was beautiful. It hurt and has had a negative affect on me. I guess the problem is even though other people may say I’m beautiful, I know he never will. That feels so bleak to me cause him telling me I’m cute isn’t cutting it anymore. What are your thoughts?

    • HisHandmaiden

      Gabrielle,
      You are beautiful, and your fiance saying that nothing is, is untrue. The choice is yours but believe what the long lost friend told you because that my “beautiful” plus size sister is the TRUTH…

    • Lisa Mendez

      Gabrielle,
      Think long and hard about this. Is this the person you want to spend your life with? Someone with whom you will never truly measure up to? I am not saying break it off…..what I am saying is maybe its time to step back and get some perspective on things. You are beautiful the way you are.

    • http://www.aplaceformecounseling.com Kimberly Kirk Openo

      Gabrielle,
      I am curious about other things with your fiance…does he show that you are beautiful with his actions, but he just can’t express himself with words? If so, then you might be OK in the long run. But, if not, that “something has to be perfect to be beautiful” is C.R.A.P. & a terrible excuse to get away from true closeness & intimacy. And human creatures are made to feel DESIRED by someone. If your fiance doesn’t desire you now BEFORE you get married, what about after a few crises and kids and house and, and, and… All those stressors really eat into a relationship & without a strong communication & intimate bond NOW, those times will be more difficult. Perhaps seeing a counselor would help you make a decision about what to do next? Good luck, but don’t sell yourself short. LISTEN to that long lost friend!

    • CeCe Olisa

      My first thoughts are:
      1.) Be mindful of letting outside men make you question what you have. Any guy can roll through and drop compliments… it takes a special guy to commit

      2.) If you could choose between everything your fiance does/says now vs. him telling you you’re beautiful, which would you choose?

      I’ll respond in more detail later… xx

    • Zazzles

      so does this mean he won’t think any of his future children are beautiful? (if you guys are choosing to have children that is) I feel like that can cause issues for future kids too… your man and his idea of beauty are the ones with the problem, not you.
      if feeling beautiful is a priority for you, than don’t let it go. Seek counseling, express how hurtful those words are to you and what feelings they bring up.
      Hugs!!!

  • HisHandmaiden

    I may not let others know, but the negativity I receive from women, “…so are you still not dating anyone?” as though I have no right to NOT to accept whatever comes my way. This is the truth, I know someone who said I was TOO picky because I didn’t want to date a man who was in jail! What?!?
    And then there is the negativity that I receive from men. I’m usually very shy (even when I was smaller in size!), so it is very difficult for me to approach a guy. At the urging of friends, let me tell you the three scenarios that happened in one night:
    a) I started dancing in front of a guy who I had watched and knew that he was not there with anyone (he walked away). How rude is that?
    b) I started dancing in front of another guy who I had watched dance with another (smaller sized) woman who did the exact thing I did (he moved away).
    And as if that wasn’t enough:
    c) I went up to a man (after much false starts and many conversations with myself to muster up the courage!) and he said he wasn’t much for dancing. In a club, really?
    And the kicker is: I like BIG guys! Teddy bear lover, that’s me! :)
    So when you match the overall systemic negativity with the individual people messing with the self esteem you’re trying to build, it is no wonder women shut down. We play the, “I don’t like/need/want you either” game, when we know deep down nothing could be further from the truth.

    Not everyone can be small, and so we pray that those “special” men (designed to be attracted to us, and us to them) would want to show us love too…

    • Zazzles

      I used to get that too, or “you’ll meet someone if you loose weight” Had a very good friend tell me I wasn’t going to find anyone while I was fat…flat out suggested that the guy I was interested in was not interested in me because of my size. The thought hadn’t even occurred to me before she said it, I was offended for me AND for the guy.
      I’m attracted to all kinds of shapes and sizes, my ex is a big huggy teddybear and my best guy friend, my current guy works out for 2hrs a day and is rather fit.. but he LOVES me and my big body.
      I didn’t settle. I refuse to settle. I don’t think anyone should ever. fat or thin. We all deserve love: to love and be loved.

    • sheneeee

      Oh, I am so guilty of doing this.

      Shutting down and giving off the impression that I don’t need ANYONE because I don’t want to feel hurt or like I am exposing myself or letting myself be vulnerable.

  • Maribel M.

    Go girl!!! I wish I had your confidence! I’m not totally there yet…
    Just when I thought I was getting to the point of loving myself just the way I am… I’m now having confidence issues with a guy I’m crushing on. He’s super nice and we get along great and we have quite a lot in common. Certain comments he makes my friends believe are flirtatious (and they do appear to me too) but he hasn’t made a move on me and I haven’t either with him. Also, a lot of these comments are made online and not in person. He’s much quieter in person for some reason. My friends say I should flirt back just to get an idea of how he’d react but I don’t feel comfortable doing that unless I have a good idea that a guy likes me and isn’t just being nice. It’s not that I don’t think I’m worthy of HIM per se, but I do have an overall discomfort at putting myself out there only to be rejected. Another thing is, I’m almost convinced that he doesn’t like me that way because well, he’s Filipino and Asian guys in general have never expressed any interest in me out right (I’m Filipino btw) in my 33 years of existence, and it’s been kind of a sore spot for me.

  • Kay Elizabeth Kerns

    A great topic I have struggled with some of these issues too. I know for a fact though that couples don’t have to ‘match’ in size! Sometimes opposites do attract…don’t think you have to ‘settle’ for a man you’re not truly attracted to.

  • http://www.chiglo.com/ Lovely ChigloWebmistress

    Love this !

  • PJ

    A beautiful & insightful blog (much like its author).

  • http://www.athomaspointofview.blogspot.com/ Tikeetha Thomas

    This is so beautiful. I love your man’s response.

  • kdawnna

    You should really start going around and speaking to groups of women. So young, but full of Godly wisdom!

  • BC

    A-FLIPPIN-MEN TEN TIMES OVER!!!!!!!

  • http://Inspector33.com/ Inspector33

    That line is the sweetest… It’s amazing that with all the fat-bashing I took growing up I can look at myself and see beauty. I too have heard that fat=ugly and that can take a long time to shake off. I’ve definitely turned down men because I didn’t feel secure about myself and even though my current man thinks I’m just the bees knees it’s taken a while to believe him. Thanks for sharing your experience. A lot of women need help realizing that there are handsome men who don’t see the fat but the fabulous women we are and that we deserve them.

  • http://www.leangirlsclub.com/ gracekelle

    You are worthy of his love and affection, girl! Your man clearly understands that the shine of a “thin” girl wears off. Cuz at the end of the day when I think of who I want to end up with, I think about what’s on the inside…cuz that’s what we’ll have to live with day in and day out. Relationships are about the long distance – who are you going to still want to talk to after being together 10, 20, 30+ years? Someone with substance! That’s what makes people attractive in my opinion. Cuz internal ugliness has a way of showing itself on the exterior in my opinion :)

  • http://irresistibleicing.com/ irresistibleicing

    This post is brilliant! Your last sentence about your Dwayne Wayde just sums it all up. You are both amazing people that deserve each other’s love. Haters and miserable people are jealous of anyone in a good relationship, thick or thin. I actually just finished watching Mad Fat Diary (yes, all of them lol) and this was one of the major topics. xoxo

  • Cate

    Thanks, Cece. I really needed this right now. I’m not as bothered by it when I’m actually with someone but when I’m navigating the online dating world or overanalyzing things after dates (either alone or with my girlfriends) I let those insecurities and self-doubts creep in. I hate that when I don’t know why a guy isn’t interested I automatically assume it has something to do with how I look and that I can still feel self-conscious even when a guy has never expressed a negative sentiment about my body and is actively telling me how much he enjoys spending time with me. I’m the one going, I’m lucky someone wants to be with me. And sometimes even if I don’t like a guy, I tell myself that I should “settle” because I’m lucky that someone fit and athletic is willing to settle for me. Thankfully it’s never gone past a few dates.

  • Fl

    You are such an intelligent young lady, I really love reading your blog. I had the same problem you did, when I first started dating my bf (still together 2 yrs later), women did hit on him in front of my face. He’s an attractive man. I am not a plus size princess, and it didn’t matter, some women are just insecure, and if they find a man attractive, will just hit on him regardless. It used to bother me a lot, and it made me think there was something wrong with me, that i wasn’t good enough or pretty enough, but it wasn’t. It was because of the competitiveness women are driven to in our society. I started realizing why so many R & B songs say “it doesn’t matter what people say,” because people do have a tendency to say things when someone is happy. Don’t let anyone take away your happiness! you deserve it, you’re hot, you’re awesome, and you’re inteligent.

  • Autumn

    I’ve always been a plus-sized girl and at one time I was dating a fellow much bigger than myself. He was someone I’d worked with, a really sweet guy whose life had been really tough and (like me) he found comfort in food. I brought him with me to a family Christmas party one year and before ever bothering to have a conversation with him, my aunt told me “Oh honey, you could do so much better.” In the end, he wasn’t the right match for me, but definitely not for any reason so shallow. It opened my eyes to the type of person my aunt is though. To this day, I still feel angry when I think about it. So many humans lack the ability to put themselves in others’ shoes and would show judgement before compassion. It’s unfortunate, but like you said, those kinds of comments stem from their own insecurities. I’ve always heard that, but it’s taken a long time to finally believe it.

  • nicthommi

    It can be really hard to find good dating advice, mainly because it is REALLY hard to find people who don’t believe this.

    I’ve seen this with women who have managed to lose weight, and it’s commonly mentioned on dating blogs. It’s kind of something you have to steel yourself for b/c it is RARE to find people who don’t promote and project this idea that your stock is way lower (in addition to the incredulous women who don’t understand why staying “fit”-skinny in their heads means they should be getting as much attention as they want. (I remember one lady even going to the whole “well, I just happen to be someone who values “perfection and high standards” as if I couldn’t possibly relate to that;I did not return to that comment thread).

    As much as I enjoy seeing people discussing their fitness journeys, one thing that turned me off from more than a few blog or vlog channels is the insistence that losing weight meant access to “higher quality” men. I’m not even sure I believe anymore that it means more men, since the women I know who are frequently single like me have all kinds of body types. Sucks for those of us who want to change it but seeing that it’s not really true that skinny doesn’t mean 50 first dates a month is a good dose of reality. And it’s nice to have seen the history of your own story didn’t involve becoming a size 8 and then meeting the man of your dreams, b/c tha’ts how a lot of people’s fitness stories go. (I often wonder if they realize that it’s not the most helpful way to to).

    it is really irritating because if you are unsure about to approach things, most “experts” usually subscribe to this line of thinking, so you are doing a lot of people a really good favor by reminding them of this.

    I’d put my own friends in two categories. Ones who hae always seen me as their equal (or maybe even better), despite being the “fat” once. And there are always a few who at least when younger (like college age), would be the ones to push you towards whatever/whoever was leftover and be surprised that you’d decline to go there.

    It is REALLY hard not to internalize things. But I realized that most of my friends who have been the most forward about expressing their interest in men get shot down plenty. And since there is no weight issue for them to fall back on and they are happy with their looks, they accept it and move on.

    It takes a LOT of practice I think to just try and not act like the reason you aren’t successful or the reason the guy you REALLY liked said no has said no to plenty of other women who weren’t fat.
    But I say this all to say beautifully said. As soon as I saw the title I knew I’d have to comment but you also kind of covered everything, and some of the commenters have too (like letting insecurity make you doubt a guy’s interest so much that he backs off, or that you back off even if he’s dropped that hint 10x. I often joke that I require and engraved invitation that says “Yes, I like you” before I believe it).

    I definitely absorbed the idea that looking at or for men was not something I should do until I was able to get close to “average” weight. Well, my fitness journey has been successful in my opinion, long term (so really a lifestyle at this point), I’m strong and fit…but I’ve not gotten skinny desipte losing weight. So probably important for a lot of ppl to remember and to tell them not to save themselves b/c the result of your journey may be a better you that is still shopping in the plus section. And I’ll go ahead and brag and say that seeing the things that I’m able to do that a lot of my friends that I always assumed were “fit” cannot has been a big ego boost (like the ones who can’t do a push up oe plank or a burpee or even a regular sit up).

  • sheneeee

    I am new here and so glad I made it here! I NEEDED to read this. I feel so hopeless most of the time because of this. I look at a guy I like and my friends are all like “go for it” and I never do because I know he can find someone “better” AKA “skinnier.” I gotta work on my mindset around it.

    I have so many awesome things about me that I need to stop taking for granted because I am not the right “size.”

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  • Kayla

    OMG Cece the last line made me smile SO HARD!!! Love his response, what a sweetie!
    This is something I’ve struggled with in all of my relationships to date. It is so hard to keep those insecurities in check but like you said if a guy is interested, he obviously sees something in you! Learning to celebrate my good qualities instead of questioning his choice to date me. Thank you so much for this post!

  • LC Henry

    HEY MS CECE….your words are always sooo rite & on time it never fails. I am 44yrs of age the mother of a 21yr old and I dont have half of the confidence that you possess. I hope one day that I can find happiness and NOT WORRY@negativity. Thanks so much for just being you…lots of luv:)

  • Janice Leighton Craft

    Perfectly said! My hubby and I will have our 20th Anniversary in December. When I met him I was a curvy size 20 and his jeans were a 28×34. And no that’s not backwards. 28 waist and 34 inseam. I had a “friend” tell me that we looked like Laurel and Hardy. I didn’t care…he didn’t care. That’s all that matters!!!

  • Bren

    Thank you so much for writing this. I have been struggling through this for almost all of my adult life and up until recently I am ashamed to admit that I let others’ opinions of me almost totally dictate my level of self-worth. I feel like I am waking up out of a coma…a coma of self-doubt, worthlessness and general lack of confidence. I’m through giving others that kind of power over me. You are beautiful, you write beautifully, and anyone would be lucky to have you in their life in any capacity.

  • Mahogany

    It does go both ways though…I’m athletic, my husband is chubby, and I often get comments from other women like “girl, why did you settle?”, “You could have done so much better”, “I would never date a fat guy!” and other similar comments. I don’t get why someone’s choice of partner is other people’s business. Some people date for personality, not necessarily looks! I wouldn’t have married someone that I was “settling” for, or was unhappy with.

  • Angelia

    Love it. :) <3

  • Jen Baker

    I’ve been with my partner for almost 6 years, and I’ve had my fair share of this type of thing; the looks, the smiles, the flirting.. my partner is oblivious, though sometimes I feel a lot of men are, but I am not. It’s taken me a long time to get passed the looks of others, and allow myself to be free with my partner, and now our little family ( little dude was added) and be myself. Sure, I still catch myself from time to time, trying to hide something about me (Especially eating in public) but now I can shake myself of the need to hide, and be me. Sadly, it’s taken me the majority of the length of our relationship, for me to get this far, but I am still here. I still catch the looks, or sneers, or pointing/laughter, but instead of getting upset, I blow them a kiss, or give them a wink, and let them deal with their reaction to me and my partner, and our absolute happiness and adoration for each other. Thank you for your post! It’s nice to read similar experiences that you’ve gone through when they are such a positive experience. It’s…pretty much reinforcing the “Ok to be myself” thing.

  • Ivery

    I agree wholeheartedly. It’s all about confidence. Waking up and deciding that you’re beautiful no matter what anyone else thinks. Period.

  • Cassie

    I have been told by countless family members that if I hope to find a husband someday I need to loose weight, since age 8. That has lead to me feeling like anyone who is interested has an ulterior motive or really isn’t into me. Almost 20 years of being fed this BS and this year instead of wasting my life on failed diets I am just living and embracing myself and what Life has to offer. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lena

    I used to date someone who was big and people came up to me and asked me “if I could not do any better” and wanted to sort out my self esteem issues (because I must have had some kind of issues if I was dating a fat guy, duh). The worst thing was that those people even included his friends. It was an awful and shocking look into peoples’s mind.
    They would count how much he was eating at parties and tell me exactly what he had. Always making sure to mention that he wouldn’t be able to lose any weight if he ate “all this”.
    Those are definitly not the kind of people I want to name “friends”.