Update: This story was originally published on June 11.
One of my favorite things is to hear a man say something sweet right before he kisses me. You know, like when a guy says, “You smell so good" or, “Hi beautiful" or, “You know, if you lost weight you’d be really hot.”
Yes, that actually happened to me. Elliott, a guy I was dating, leaned in and whispered, “You know, if you lost weight you be really hot” right before trying to kiss me. I'll let that sink in for a moment.
Of course, I immediately put my hand on his beer belly and pushed him away. My face was hot with a mix of embarrassment and anger, but most of the anger was at myself because I should have seen this moment coming a mile away. Elliott would suggest salads for me, throw a parade when I mentioned I was going to the gym, and brag about all the calories he had burned playing table tennis with his friends. Yep, that's right. Table tennis.
The slick comments about my weight always took me by surprise and I brushed them off, but that night, I was done. I once wrote a piece called “Are The Men I Attract A Reflection Of...Me?” It's a question I’ve wrestled with a lot because as a Plus Size Princess in the dating game, sometimes it feels like I’m a magnet for the toothless, the jobless, and the homeless.
When I’d go out with my thinner friends, we’d walk into bars and clubs as a united front of gorgeous girl power, and they'd slowly couple up with cute lawyers and finance guys while I stood alone on the dance floor feeling invisible. I did get approached by cute guys sometimes, but they were usually cute in an, “Awww, look at grandpa getting his groove on with CeCe” sort of way. (Mostly accurate generalization: Old men love big girls.)
Dating in New York had done a number on my self-esteem. I felt boxed into a body image corner where I convinced myself that nothing good was going to happen for me until I lost weight. I wasn’t going to meet any decent guys, I wasn’t going to have fun when I went out with my friends, I wasn't going to do what I wanted to do. I told myself that I needed to get skinny yesterday, and as long as I was plus-size, I was going to have to take whoever I could get.
A week after this realization, I met Elliott. And, while his comments about my body were rude and offensive, they were no different than the negative self-talk that was happening in my head. Truth be told, Elliott was the manifestation of my own body image issues. Was the man I attracted, a reflection of me?
Yes. I had stopped loving myself, I had started to hate my body and I attracted a man who didn’t love me and hated my body. The answer was a very painful, no brainer.
Elliott was the first and last guy I dated who made me feel badly about how I looked. I reminded myself that I wasn’t crazy for being a plus-size girl with dating standards. It meant that I dated less than I wanted to, but quality over quantity is a better bet for any girl of any size. I still attract weirdos pretty often, but I’ve learned that weirdos are just fearless, so they try to hit on everyone. Fast forward a few years, and now I’m dating a cute finance guy myself.
I do believe that the men I attract are a reflection of me, so I am careful to show people how to treat me. I work hard to love myself through positivity, fitness, plus-size fashion, and an understanding that I’m better off alone than being with a guy who hates any part of me.
UPDATE: This post was originally published on March 15.