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Thoughts On Being a “Pretty Fat Girl”

So the other day I was having a conversation with someone about their body image an feelings of self worth – feel free to imagine me doing this all day everyday, as that is basically accurate.

The conversation went kind of like this:

“I just feel bad about myself all the time. I am fat and ugly and no one wants to date me. I’m getting to the point where I just don’t know what to do.” [Her]

“I know EXACTLY what you mean, I used to feel like that every single day and it led me to make all manner of terrible decisions because I was constantly on the prowl for external validation to fill the deep dark hole of my self loathing.” [Me]

“No – You don’t understand, because you’ve always at least been beautiful.” [Her, emphasis mine]

Huh. Now, this isn’t the first time that this has happened to me. The “but you’ve got such a pretty face” write off. As if my face discounts the size of my body, or my life-long struggle with weight. As if we are existing in some sort of hierarchy of fatness, where pretty faces sit at the top and everyone else has more of a right to hate their bodies than, lets say, I do.

Is there a hierarchy of fatness?

Now, as I’ve mentioned, many, many times before – actually body size has little to no impact on your mental processes of self worth and body image. The insidious and dangerous thing about having a negative self image, is that it can happen to ANYONE, and is very rarely connected with actual size. Instead, size is relative. Someone could very likely feel just as badly about their body at a size two as I have at a size eighteen – and the emotional patterns are the same.

It is almost unbelievable. But it’s true.

And those feelings of diminished self worth, the ones that dig down really deep and get caught up around your heart, threatening to take up permanent residence there if you don’t actively seek to starve them out – those feelings can happen to anyone. Those feeling are the ones that will get you. They are the ones that breed in shame and secrecy, and will bring down even the bravest person, should they be allowed any sort of acknowledgement or authority.

Sometimes, you have to dig down deep to scratch away at the layers and layers of hurt that you have accumulated throughout your life. And sometimes, even when you think you are entirely done eradicating all of the built up layers of shame and trauma, something will trigger you and you will realize just how much work is left to do.

Now, when I was younger. And fatter. And entirely consumed with self loathing, people would frequently address me in a pitying tone about my looks, say, but you have such a pretty face, and meaning, it’s too bad you are wasting all of that beauty in that fat body. So needless to say, this conversation was a bit of a gut-puncher for me. I relived, in typical dizzying flashback panic attack format, a slide show of mean spirited people who had said that to me during my life.

And what I wanted to say was [please insert 14 year old whine] – but I was still FAT! No one wanted to be my BOYFRIEND (or girlfriend or WHATEVER)! No one wanted to even be associated with me because I was so repulsive! I hated my body JUST AS MUCH AS YOU DO NOW.

But what I did say is – the actual mass of your body or your proximity to ideal beauty standards or your fashion sense or anything else – pales in comparison to how you view yourself. When I felt ugly, I was ugly, because I allowed myself to live under the thundercloud of my self doubt and anxiety. Once I decided [because yes it was a choice] to be beautiful – I started to be more appealing to people, and NOT because my physical looks had changed, but because my attitude about myself had changed.

You need an example, don’t you? I thought so…

Now. This is what I looked like in 2002. The point of this exercise is not that I was ugly. But I don’t really look like I like myself all that much do I? This picture actually hurts me to look at, because it brings me right back to a time in my life where I hated myself very, very deeply, and where I was causing myself harm due to the lengths I was willing to go for validation and “security.”

This photo was taken a month ago, at one of my friend’s wedding. I am at least 20 pounds heavier in this photo. HOWEVER – I look better right? This is the difference that loving your body regardless of it’s size makes.

People will be attracted to you if you love yourself. That is a fact. And it often has very little to do with your actual weight. Because when you love yourself: you stand differently, you smile like you mean it, you extend kindness and warmth because you can see outside of your little shell of pain, and you dress in a way that is both comfortable and flattering instead of trying to hide your body away or make it something that it’s not.

And it’s really not about having a pretty face. It’s about having a compassionate and loving heart, and teaching yourself to accept your perceived flaws and make the absolute best out of every moment.

Have you experienced this hierarchy? How does it make you feel? Do you believe that there is merit to the claims? How do you work to let your best self shine through?

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57 Comments to Thoughts On Being a “Pretty Fat Girl”

  1. August 12, 2010 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I remember the first time I hear a relative say (loud enough for me to hear), “It’s too bad she’s chubby, she has such a pretty face.” Years later I still think of that person and feel the hurt of that younger me. There’s definitely a hierarchy; I challenge it at times, ignore it at others depending on my own confidence at the time.

    Powerful post/insight!
    Sandi recently posted..Monday Morning ResistanceMy Profile

  2. August 12, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    While I was losing 100 pounds I found that I got A LOT more attention from the opposite sex when I was about 25 pounds from my goal. I was hardly skinny, and I went on to lose another 35 pounds but that seemed to be the “magic weight” that I got all the attention..
    Lisa recently posted..Veggie Pasta Salad RecipeMy Profile

  3. August 12, 2010 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I love this post.

    I’ve always been given the “at least you have such a gorgeous face!” And when I was younger it made me feel good. If I didn’t have the body- at least I had the face and the boobs. And I did things any typical teenage girl would do to validate herself. (You can use your imagination on that one)

    Now, I’m two sizes larger but happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I have a husband and son that love me for who I am. I have friends that see me inside and out and aren’t superficial.

    I think it has a lot to do with just growing up. There’s a maturity level we have to hit before we realize that confidence in yourself, regardless of your size, is what really makes you shine. It’s unfortunate that we can’t seem to instill these values in teen women.

    and I’m rambling…
    Laura Jane recently posted..My Morning RoutineMy Profile

  4. sui's Gravatar sui
    August 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I know what you mean… when I was skinny, I felt terrible about myself and how I looked (like an ugly boy)… but my best friend would love to remind me “But you’re SKINNY!” and emphasize that point as if that solved everything.

    Then, when I was at my heaviest weight, gained I don’t know how much because I don’t weigh myself, but gained because I was trying to STOP starving, stop purging, stop torturing myself… I felt better about myself than I ever did, even if I still had some body image issues.

    It’s all perspective/state of mind. It’s all about how you personally feel about yourself. Some people would feel bad if they were as thin as [insert thin celebrity here]. Others are happy that they’re as beautiful as Beth Ditto. :)
    sui recently posted..project- summer 2010! week 9My Profile

  5. August 12, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Grrr.

    I hate the “but you have such a pretty face” remarks.

    It is all about perception and how we feel and carry ourselves. Lately, I have spent more time wearing clothes that make me feel awesome and carrying myself in a more proud and confident manner and what a difference it has made in how I feel about myself. And I am sure that the people around me notice it too. Before, I would wear frumpy sweaters, no bright colors and would hardly bother to mess with my hair.

    And now, I realize, I deserve to feel beautiful just as much as the thin girl next to me. I am beautiful, damn it.
    Christie {Honoring Health} recently posted..reader request The Validation of CountingMy Profile

  6. August 12, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    First of all, not that it particular matters, but you do have a very pretty face. More importantly though, at least to me, is that you have a very pretty “voice” and an even prettier message. I experienced this hierarchy myself as a child, when I was cute but overweight, and to hear that you are beautiful when you feel huge and disgusting and are self-loathing is small comfort. I am now at a healthier (read: lighter) weight and so don’ t face these comments anymore, but I do still struggle with self-image. I wonder when people will realize that body size and physical appearance have virtually nothing to do with body image, which is a much more complex and elusive construct. I actually wrote a post recently on the physiology of body image if you want to check it out: http://nourishing-the-soul.com/2010/08/01/body-image-are-we-wired-for-distortion/
    Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul recently posted..Tips for Recovery Series – 4 Eat Like a ChildMy Profile

  7. August 12, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    you are wise beyond your years.

  8. August 12, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, thank you. My weight and my struggle with my weight has been happening almost all my life. But what I noticed went hand-in-hand was my self-loathing. I use that phrase often.

    I’ve stopped the BS cycle. I am happy, loved, and have fit in ranges from a 20 to a 6. Most recently, a 6. Now back into a comfortable, happy (well-fed!) size 10-12. This is me. And it doesn’t matter. You’re right. People will like you if you are happy, warm, and yourself.

  9. KCLAnderson (Karen)'s Gravatar KCLAnderson (Karen)
    August 12, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    “When I felt ugly, I was ugly, because I allowed myself to live under the thundercloud of my self doubt and anxiety. Once I decided [because yes it was a choice] to be beautiful – I started to be more appealing to people, and NOT because my physical looks had changed, but because my attitude about myself had changed.”

    Exactamundo! I have written something very similar. And yes, there is a hierarchy. And I’ve been the target of “such-a-pretty-face” comments too.

    We’re only as pretty as we feel. :-)
    KCLAnderson (Karen) recently posted..Is Competition Always GoodMy Profile

  10. August 12, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad I clicked on the link to read your post. It’s excellent. I primarily blog about women’s issues, which includes body image and I’ve never discussed the hierarchy but agree that there is one.

    Also agree that it’s have we feel about ourselves that makes a difference (your two photos were a good example, the second one is beautiful and vibrant). I’m slim but can tell you the many things I hated about my body and didn’t think I was good looking. But I could think well at least I’m slimmer than she is. Appalling on my part. So thanks for an informative, real, well written piece.
    Cherry Woodburn recently posted..Vlog it! Embracing Your Own Body – Are You Up To The ChallengeMy Profile

  11. August 12, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    I not only experience this hierarchy because I “have a pretty face” but because I’m a size 6-8. Obviously that means that I couldn’t have body issues, so I can’t say anything about my thoughts or reassure anyone on theirs. So frustrating!

    The confidence thing is something I’m still working on. Some days, I’m the baddest motha in the whole world and people should be lucky they get to look at me walk past. Some days, I want to lock myself in my room and sob because I can’t stand the feeling of my thighs. It’s a process, and I’m getting better at it.

    Buying bigger pants helped LOADS.
    Ellie Di recently posted..Combating CyberbullyingMy Profile

  12. August 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Wow! Wow! What a fantastic piece! I’m running off to share this RIGHT now with some people I know who will really appreciate your insights :) I agree 125%!!

    I’m a slim girl, always have been, and yet have been through periods of complete insecurity about my looks.

    Thankfully, I know now that self love is KEY and yes, when you love yourself, others sense that and are attracted to you.

    Funny thing is, then you don’t ‘need’ love anymore but love having it! :)

    Gawd I love that picture of you smiling & glowing. Thanks for connecting on twitter x @TiaSparkles
    Tia Singh – Your Life, Your Way! recently posted..How to be Truly Extra-OrdinaryMy Profile

  13. August 12, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Love LOVE LOVE this post [me, empahsis with LOUD LOVE] ;) It’s so true. SO many times throughout my obese phase in life I was told “you have such a pretty face”. As though it as a ‘saving grace’ from the fact that I was FAT and UGLY. It’s amazing to think about this whole experience. For me, when I was almost 300lbs I wasn’t ‘happy’ with my weight, but I had spunk/spirit/drive/determination. I would do kart-wheels down the hall, laugh loud, etc.

    Then I started actively losing weight, then got together with an ex and my spirit was gone. I was the thinnest I had ever been “happy” and people kept saying how AMAZING I looked. Blah blah blah. Then i started binging.

    And my spirit kept dying. The interesting thing that has washed over my recently is not that I want to be thin again (would love to lose a bit of weight, whateves) it’s that I want my fucking life back. I want the spirit in my eyes back. I don’t want to be a starving diet hungry spiritless..skinny woman so I can go and get another asshole of a boyfriend.

    I want to be me. That’s it.

    Love this post. Thank you.
    Michelle@Eatingjourney recently posted..Falling On GravelMy Profile

  14. August 12, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post, once again. First, I love your picture. You are beautiful in and out. Second, your comment…

    “Someone could very likely feel just as badly about their body at a size two as I have at a size eighteen”

    rings very true to me. I have two absolutely gorgeous teenage nieces. One is a size 0, a runner, who is nothing but bone and muscle. Her sister, also a beauty, is probably a size 4. Her waist is easily the same size as my thigh, but because she compares herself to her sister, she feels she is fat, ugly, and unlovable. It is so sad. When I see girls like that I wonder how any of us has a chance. Thanks for the inspiration!!
    Ms. Moran recently posted..Why Couldn’t I Be An 18th Century Aristocratic WomanMy Profile

  15. August 13, 2010 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    This is a fantastic post and I totally agree. I always hear people saying things like “she’s got such a pretty face” about people who are fat in a way that clearly indicates the sentence should continue “…even though she’s fat.” I think this is one of the times I have to say that everything is very relative. I didn’t get boyfriends until I lost a lot of weight, though I had two bad relationships in that period of time and was really clingy because I was so shocked that anyone was finally willing to be with me. I also don’t think I really liked my new body. I almost laugh when I think of how I’d pinch this tiny bit of fat on my tummy and think about how grotesque I was when now I feel far beautiful and have a MUCH larger tummy than I did then. And, of course, now I have a boyfriend who actually expresses genuine attraction to me. To him, my size doesn’t matter as long as I’m healthy and happy and he is actually a guy who considers non-skinny women more attractive. There will always be someone who thinks you’re beautiful.

    And by the way, you look absolutely adorable in that second photo (the first, well, we’ve all been in middle/high school…. dark days…)
    Vanessa recently posted..Letters to People Who Are So OCDMy Profile

  16. August 13, 2010 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    amazingly written, crafted and conveyed Oh MM.

    TRULY.

    you know I could not agree more.

    feel free to share this link in my comments today if you want….its a post so so many of us need to hear/read more than once…

  17. August 13, 2010 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    This is such and awesome post and reminds of so many similar comments from my childhood and how many bad situations I have allowed myself to be in because of the poisonous negative view I have of myself. One thing your post has helped me see is that I actually feel better (still not great) about myself and the body I have so hatefully abused over the years! Thanks : )
    D… recently posted..Sit-ups and shoesMy Profile

  18. August 13, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I cannot believe I am just discovering your site! It seems like we have so much in common and blog about many of the same topics. I am very much looking forward to following you! :)

  19. August 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    FANTASTIC AMAZING LOVELY ROCKSTAR LOVE YOU SO MUCH I COULD NOM NOM ON YOU :) xoxoxooxoxoxooxoxooxox
    Kendra (Voice in Recovery) recently posted..Near Life Experiences- Death vs RecoveryMy Profile

  20. August 13, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    i hate this! people completely dismiss me because after 20yrs of HATING my body, NOW i’m small. but does that mean i don’t know what i’m talking about??? i lived 20 years just how they felt!

    and i don’t care what size you are, you can still struggle. i know just as many size 2s who struggle as size 20s.

    we need to support each other, not tear each other down!!!
    -r

  21. August 13, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I… love this post.

    I have a similar experience in this vein on a fairly regular basis: people (who are — in any given instance — smaller, larger, or the same size as I am) — undermine my right to speak on issues of body image and weight because I’m apparently “so skinny.” I find this ironic (and incredibly difficult) for myriad reasons — including the fact that they often aren’t larger than I am (but perceive themselves as being larger and therefore more “valid” in their claims of ugliness), the fact that I have a history of eating disorder and damn well know what body hate is like and that it’s not actually correlated with one’s body type (as you’ve said), and because (when I was actively anorexic/ bulimic) I heard time and time again what a relief it was that I “wasn’t very skinny.” (In other words, I must not have been very sick, because I wasn’t emaciated.) It’s powerful for me to realize that the flip-side of the argument used now to denounce my advocacy (“what do you know about body image struggles? you’re ‘skinny’!”) was used to undermine my illness in the past. (“You aren’t really that sick. If you were you’d be skinnier.”) And of course, I’m at a much healthier weight now – and a fuller adult shape – than I was when I was sick and “not” skinny. It is ALL ABOUT perception… but so many of us cling hard to the notion that we hate ourselves solely because our bodies demand to be hated.

    As for me, I’m still making peace with my body and my appearance — (and maybe always will be, although I have faith in a better status quo than I’ve managed this far). But, at the very least, I can now look back on the photos of me when I was “thin” the way you look back on that first photo posted here. I have stopped (for the most part) asking why I can’t still look that way, and come to see that body as representative of a time/ pain I never wish to embody again. And that goes a long way toward liking the body I have now. After all, I’m a much bigger fan of the LIFE I have now than I am of that old life.
    Mary recently posted..Educating Education- Pt 1 Mad Lib SubversionMy Profile

  22. Lotus Eater's Gravatar Lotus Eater
    August 13, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    You were not even fat as a teen! You were what could be called “slightly chubby”. That’s it.

    And by TODAY’S standards you would not even be considered “chubby”.

    And now as an adult you are STILL not fat.

    You are “medium”.

  23. Lotus Eater's Gravatar Lotus Eater
    August 13, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    But you were not even “fat” as a teen! At most you were “kind of chubby”. Especially by today’s standards you would not be considered fat at all. And as an adult I would not even really consider you “chubby” but just “medium”.

  24. August 13, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for writing this wonderful and amazing post! I recently lost a significant amount of weight after being sick and have been struggling a lot to come to terms with my new body. Mostly because even though the weight is no longer there, the self hatred is. Reading your post has encouraged me to really take a look at how I view my body and see if I can try and love myself no matter what size I am at.

    Thank you!!

  25. August 13, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    I pink puffy heart this post.

    I’ve been fatter & I’ve been skinnier, but I’ve never been happier. And happy looks good on me :)
    Joanna recently posted..The Grady FamilyMy Profile

  26. August 13, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Love your happy-face photo. You just look a bit shy in the other one!
    WendyB recently posted..2001 Hair FlashbackMy Profile

  27. August 13, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Oh, Marzipan….

    You are gifted, first of all.

    Secondly, yes, there most definitely is a hierarchy with fatness and beauty. And I’ve noticed people who self hate will always come up with the, “Well, at least you have…(fill in the blank)”.

    And this is my favorite: “People will be attracted to you if you love yourself. That is a fact.”
    Andrea Owen recently posted..Old MemoriesMy Profile

  28. August 13, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the reminder. I needed to hear this today. It’s about what’s going on inside.

  29. August 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    “the actual mass of your body or your proximity to ideal beauty standards or your fashion sense or anything else – pales in comparison to how you view yourself.”

    Yes, yes, YES! I’m so happy to hear someone vocalize this…or whatever the written equivalent of vocalize is…eh.

    I spent 30-some years hating myself. Thinking I was fat, ugly, unlikeable, unlovable, you name it, and I have never been bigger than a size 12. Size/weight is irrelevant to beauty and love-ability. If you feel crappy about yourself, people can feel that. It radiates off of you. If you feel sexy and beautiful that’s what you project and that’s the vibe people feel coming from you.

    Thanks for this. I’m going to share it with my two teenage daughters. I want them to read it.

    And, for what it’s worth, you *are* really beautiful.
    Beth recently posted..DuhMy Profile

  30. Hidi's Gravatar Hidi
    August 13, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Great article & beautiful words written :)

    I experienced the body image hierarchy as a teenager; I did not see myself as a beautiful person. I compared myself to images on tv, magazines & people in public. I thought I had to loose weight in order to be considered beautiful but I grew up and realized this is NOT the way to be. I was doing more harm than good. Anyway, I am at a much better place now and I realized that I am beautiful. What keeps me going? my faith, family & doing things I enjoy doing :)

  31. August 13, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Oh wow. What an amazing post. What incredible photos. And how very beautiful you are, in every way.
    Foodie McBody recently posted..Fake It Till You Make ItMy Profile

  32. Cute? Pretty?'s Gravatar Cute? Pretty?
    August 14, 2010 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    I’m in my teenage years, and have been struggling with weight my entire life.
    I’m not too fat — I fit anywhere from a size 5-9 — but since I’m around very skinny girls, it really takes a toll at my self-confidence. I’m extremely partial to fashion and love to fit in Gothic Lolita styled corsets and Chanel pencil skirts. However, I’m not happy and everytime I look in a mirror I keep on thinking that no one will ever like me, despite the fact that my friends say I have everything — coveted wardrobe, excellent grades (Asian ness…), good musical skills, good artist, etc etc — but I never see those things.
    This summer, when my friend came over for a sleepover, I realized something: my friend has a string of boys chasing after her, a muscular and beautiful build, and a gorgeous face, and guess what? Her jeans, which were a size 3, fit me better than my own did. The only difference is that I have a lot of fat. She inspired me to exercise more and become “fit” instead of “skinny”, since I was never the sporty type. And guess what? A month later, people can’t see the difference, but I feel better — much better. I am so much more confident, and at events where I volunteer, I have guys flirting with me. What I’ve learned from this is that healthy, not skinny, is the key. With health comes confidence, and with those two combined, anybody can look beautiful, regardless of size, age, or weight. I don’t look much skinner in regardance of legs and such, but I am getting rid of fat and gaining muscle, which gives me more energy, and I try to be more healthy, because that makes me feel a lot happier. However, I do realize that some teens pair that up with not eating at all. I have a friend who is too skinny for a size zero, who was recently admitted to the hospital for malnutrition. She is nothing but skin and bones but she is so keen on getting skinnier! She isn’t healthy anymore, which means she doesn’t have enough confidence. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s difficult because it’s something you can only overcome by yourself. However, I do believe that it’s something everybody needs to overcome, regardless of the method, and overcoming this obstacle will be a very beneficial experience for everybody.

  33. August 14, 2010 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    This is such a powerful post. I was just on that website about cute love stories, lovegivesmehope. And while reading it, i thought about my own weight. I am only sixteen years old and a size 12 in jeans, kind of short, and not exactly the most beautiful, while my friends complain about being a size 7. Reading lovegivesmehope stories made me think how much i wish i had a story like that to post, and it made me really sad. But reading your post made me feel a lot better, you have no idea. You are such a beautiful person inside and out, and i wish you the best in everything you do. Thank you for making my day a lot brighter:)

  34. liza's Gravatar liza
    August 14, 2010 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    For me, being fat is not important as long as you are comfortable and healthy.

  35. August 14, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    LOVE THIS! I totally agree with you. In the book When Women Start Hating Their Bodies it is suggested that you imagine your current body is the current cultural ideal: your body-type is on the front of every magazine and everyone is desperate to have what you have. Start moving, standing, interacting, dressing, etc. as if that were true. I started living that way about a year ago, even though I had gained weight, and it was hilarious to me that people started asking me if I had LOST weight. It’s a funny world we live in, isn’t it? It may be cliche, but confidence truly is the key to beauty.

  36. August 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    As someone who has been pretty damn consumed by hatred of my body for oh….33 years (it started at 4 — I had 4 years of freedom – yips!) but have been described my whole life as pretty/cute/beautiful only for me to completely and totally discount every positive thing anyone said because in my head I would scream “don’t they know how ugly I am — haven’t they seen my thighs/gut/arms (insert body part here – they’ve all been used) – it’s a tough road to run because when you hate a part of yourself — no matter what else you’ve got for yourself doesn’t much matter….

    thank you for this post though — you’ve definitely gotten me thinking!
    amanda recently posted..my gift to shareMy Profile

  37. Leela's Gravatar Leela
    August 14, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think there’s a hierarchy, per se – I think the problem is that when you’re stuck in that cycle of pain and misery it’s YOURS and noone else could possibly understand – let alone have experienced something similar. *dramatic music* for no one understands the darkness and pain as I do!

    Turning point for me was losing 40 kilos and realizing it made no difference – I was still miserable. Because it was never really about how I looked. Followed quickly by the realization that the male attention I was now getting was from the same men who ignored me or only spoke to me to find out if my friends were single before. They were all idiots and I spent a lot of time wondering why I cared so much. Met a guy, married him, got treated like crap, got divorced.

    Put all the weight back on (and then some) and spent the next 5 years working on liking me. So now I’m fat but happy. Sure I’d be happy if I was skinny too – it’s nothing to do with the weight and all to do with the misery you build up in your head – pretty face or no.

  38. August 14, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s kind of a weird sentiment–”but she has such a pretty face.” Does that mean that women who have less pretty faces are just universally worth less? Or does it imply that no matter how pretty your face is, you have to have a skinny body to put with it or your worth is zero?

    I was in research psych (studying attractiveness, in part) until recently, and I feel like this is a topic that needs more research–psychology has plenty of literature about what’s considered attractive, but I don’t know if anyone’s ever specifically looked at components like whether someone could tell from a strict head-shot what weight someone was, or how healthy they were (although those health markers are also controversial). It would be interesting to know whether one’s body matters more than one’s face in judgments of attractiveness. I’m betting if it does the effect differs for men and for women, both as targets and as observers.

    But yeah. It’s a dick thing to say.
    kristophine recently posted..Irregular Choice- Hi Fi HeelsMy Profile

  39. August 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Wow.
    I can’t add much that hasn’t already been said, but I hope that when I finish walking through whatever forest or grove or path that I’m walking through at the moment, trying to find my ups and downs on how I feel about MY body, that I look on the outside the way you look in the second picture.
    I think the pictures said every bit as much as your words did.
    Which is a lot.

  40. eve's Gravatar eve
    August 18, 2010 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of thinking this (sorry) but only because I’ve always thought that weight CAN be changed. I have the opposite problem – good figure, not so pretty face. What can I do about my face? Not a lot, short of plastic surgery. At least, if your weight torments you, shedding the kilos is easier than succumbing to surgery. By the way, I think you look gorgeous and I am still searching the page for photos of this “fat” girl you’re referring to.

  41. Kels's Gravatar Kels
    September 22, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    You looked beautiful then and you still do now, and far happier than many who would be considered “ideal”

  42. georgio's Gravatar georgio
    September 25, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    This is the first time I have ever left a comment for anything. I was feeling so alone and ashamed because I put on a ton of weight in one year from “stress”,rrrrrrright lol. Honestly, I was tired of years of being cranky from lack of food so i went from a size 32 to 44 OH b.t.w I am a guy ….any -hoot, I want to get somewhere in the middle, but till then I will think of your words to at least enjoy the ride. It was so refreshing to read your honest words of inspiration……U ROCK SIS’TA…..

    Big Hugs !!!!!!!!

  43. November 1, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    There is a lot of truth in what you are saying: you look more attractive when you love yourself. Now, this isn’t gonna necessarily override what you were born with. A fat woman is still gonna be fat, and that will detract some men. But if you love yourself, it’s gonna be a boost. It’ll upgrade a 4 to a 6, a 6 to a 8, etc.
    Henway recently posted..Medifast success storiesMy Profile

  44. Alex's Gravatar Alex
    January 29, 2011 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    I’ve definitely heard that one before.
    And as you described I thought for a while I was over all the self-hatred until I realized this year that I’d gained even more weight during my last couple of years in college. I’m going through that process of retraining all over again!
    I’ve always been one of those “but you’re pretty” fat girls, sometimes I even find it very difficult to accept when somebody is actually, genuinely complimenting me because I assume it’s meant to make me feel better, rather than a genuine opinion. Getting back to self confidence is harder than I remember =(

  45. Cheri's Gravatar Cheri
    April 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for writing this article! I know where you are coming from. I’m in th eprocess of losing weight but I never seemed to have self confidence. I didn’t like my self at all! I’ve since changed my attitude and I give myself a little pep talk each morning when I wake up. I know it sounds corny but I believe it works! I wake up and say to myself, you are beautiful, you are intelligent, you are funny, you are loving, you are caring. I repeat this (silently) to myself a few times. I find that more people talk to me, I get more compliments now than I didn when I was young an pencil thin. These come from not only men but women as well. I used to come to work in a tee and jeans, now I dress nicer. I still have the luxury of weating jeans but I wear nice jeans and nice tops.

    I don’t seek out the affirmation of others like I used to but it always feels good to get a compliment, no matter who you are or what you look like.

    I had someone say to me, at work, one day, “You always have a smile on your face”. That was an awesome compliment in my eyes, it tells me that what I am feeling about myself shows to others.

    Love yourself and others will follow the lead. Never be afraid to pay someone a compliment, you may just be the best thing that happened to them all day.

    Stay well and God bless!

  46. K's Gravatar K
    April 15, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    You are so beautiful! Thank you for sharing, and for helping to show our fucked up world that you don’t need to be thin to be completely and utterly gorgeous! One of the things my mom told me a lot when I was growing up was that the world loves beautiful people, and for the longest time I couldn’t see why — the pretty people in my life were the ones who wore raccoon makeup and threw up in the bathrooms and had jutting hipbones and looked scary when they turned sideways.

    Having grown up a little more, I can see better what she meant — the people that I find really beautiful are the ones who have that glow of friendliness, who know how to laugh with their bellies. And it probably sounds like I’m saying it’s inward vs. outward beauty but it’s really not. Happy, loving, fun people are physically more beautiful.

    • Adie B.'s Gravatar Adie B.
      April 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      I agree with that! U have to have inner beauty more than outer beauty! If I get put done I just say to the jerk doing it…” Obviously you think so little of yourself to have to run someone else down in order to feel good about yourself. Sorry, go feel ugly away from me, cuz I feel fine the way I am.” People are so superficial, but really they don’t have any reason to be, cuz…take a good look at them! Woof..woof!!!!

  47. Sara's Gravatar Sara
    April 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    This is SO true- I weigh 200 lbs, and I love my body. I get asked out, hit on, people love me, because I love myself.

  48. Kathryn's Gravatar Kathryn
    April 27, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    I Stumbled on this post at the strangest of moments for me – I am at a difficult point in my life, searching for a job and often feeling that because I am a size 20, I am overlooked as a potential employee and maybe as a person. Now, I don’t know how much of this is just my crazy perception of myself, but regardless it always brings me back to when my mom would tell me, “You have such BEAUTIFUL features, but your size….”, leaving the rest unsaid while she just stood there with her arms crossed looking at my big body. It’s that line that just destroys me when I look at myself today in the mirror before an interview. I guess I don’t know how to love myself yet, because I still feel so huge and disgusting no matter what anyone says. My loved ones feel as if I am purposefully trying to insult them when they compliment me and I deny it – but I just feel like I have to, because I don’t know how to love myself enough to take those compliments as true.

    I apologize for the wall of text. What I really want to say is thank you a million times over for this post. It is incredibly thought-provoking.

  49. Marie's Gravatar Marie
    July 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I feel like that “hierarchy” among plus sized women pertains to me.
    I’ve always been chubby, especially in comparison with other girls I grew up with. In my first year of high school I weighed 140lbs, and felt majorly self conscious, but NOW, if I were to weigh that little, I would be amazed.
    And I’m ashamed that I didn’t embrace myself sooner. But now, over a year since graduation, I’m at least 70-80lbs heavier. It’s crazy to think there’s that much extra on me. But despite the fact that I’ve gained so much weight, I’ve never felt more confident than I do now (although I still need some work).
    But my so called “hierarchy” is not from holding an exceptional face, it’s from being percieved as much lighter than I am.
    Now, this could be just because some thinner girls have a misconception of what actual weight looks like, but it makes revealing my weight slightly less embarassing…. mostly because they never seem to think I weigh that much.
    But in the end, I was lucky to find a man who loves my body (admittedly probably more than I do), and who liked me for me. And I got over him touching my stomach (which I used to HATE), and realized he didn’t want/need a “perfect” body.

  50. Rebecca's Gravatar Rebecca
    September 16, 2011 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Maybe your friend didn’t say it in the right way, but maybe she is making a valid point. Having a not-so-pretty face, or not-typically-pretty-face? is a whole other challenge. People just don’t treat you as well, and don’t empathize with you as much (weight issues aside.) So maybe it isn’t right either to just dismiss that experience?

  51. Christine's Gravatar Christine
    October 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    wow! I love this post! thanks =)

  52. Adie B.'s Gravatar Adie B.
    April 1, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    I’m a big woman but I’m married. My hubby is skinny, short , and always looks at these scrawny, skanky looking hos. I have been told I’m beautiful, ugly, fat, and pretty. What kills me is half the jerkoffs that tell me I’m fat and ugly well u should see them! Hubby’s mommy and daddy are oldy and moldy but they think they’re models! They think bc their daughters scrawny and thin, that every woman should look that way. And they’re actually fat! Believe me! They’re nothing to look at! I can’t stand them! I still get looked at by good looking guys once in awhile! And I don’t think they’re laughing at me, they just see me and walk on. So I think if ur skinny good for u! If ur big, good for u too!

    • Theo's Gravatar Theo
      May 15, 2012 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      OMG! I am going through the same thing with my husbands family. His mom..same….super tiny so everyone else should be. Husband isn’t skinny but not heavy either and 6 ft. His sons look anorexic. That new , what I call the Peter Pan , or heroin addict model look! They think everyone who isn’t skinny is fat. My husbands ex wives [2] are skinny. Ex 2 is psycho and skinny. I hate it. The thing is, I never thought I was “fat” till I married into this family! I still get looked at by guys but I think it is more because of my boobs. I still think most guys like the skanky skinny ho look. My husand does but he denies it. I catch him looking at them all the time cuz I can see his eyes thru the sides of his sunglasses! I don’t think they even know how much they are looking because they shockingly deny it! My husband does say over and over how beautiful I am to him but I will never believe him. Especially since his last 2 wives are thin but not pretty. I just do not get it. What happened? When did we trade pretty healthy skin and hair and face for skinny body?…How do you make yourself love your body when the whole of society is warring against it! Oh and btw, I do hair for a living and have to work in front of mirrors all day so that makes it even harder!

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I’m Mara Glatzel. I’m an intuitive coach and writer. I guide women home to themselves and teach them to create lives brimming with supreme self-care. read more
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