I never watched an episode of TLC's "Fat Chance," but from what my co-worker told me of the series, it plays on one of the biggest tales plus-size women have been told throughout their lives: If you want to find a man you have to slim down.
As I mentioned before, a man wasn't my motivation for losing weight, but I fully expected that was one of the things that would show up at the finish line along with smaller pant sizes, muscle definition, and the opportunity to take advantage of the middle seat on the subway. And I didn't just get that idea from my own imagination. I vividly remember a friend of mine saying she'd have to keep her man away from me after I'd lost a significant amount of weight -- because apparently I was an undesirable grizzly beast before. Everybody had these great expectations for my dating life as an average size woman, as evidenced by their constant probing at how my post-plus-size dating life had changed. But nobody was more disappointed than I when situationship after situationship didn't pan out. The difference at 30 versus 23, 24, 25, and 26, is I stopped pointing to myself as the reason for these failings and started looking at men like, what the fuck is wrong with you?
Let me clarify a bit because I did go through a period of, "If it's not my weight then what is it?" But I also started asking myself, "Did you really even like that man or did you just want him to like you?" Far too many times it was the latter. Something inside me was still thirsty and seeking outside affirmation because I'd internalized one too many messages about how men don't like big women and I desperately needed someone to disprove that theory every single day.
But when I got smaller, I realized that although I was dating more I was enjoying men less. Not because men had gotten shittier (well, that might be debatable) but because I was more focused on whether I liked a man as opposed to whether he liked me. In fact, I remember thinking after one date in particular "this just isn't fun." I didn't have a bad time per say, I just knew I'd have a better time dancing to Hector Lavoe in the middle of my living room (I do that sometimes) or bingewatching something on Netflix instead of wearing dresses and a full face of makeup to work all day and exhausting myself on dates with men with whom I saw no future. It was at that moment I realized I kinda love my own company and if someone else doesn't feel the same, something's either wrong with them or we're just not right for each other -- neither reason means something's off with me.
I can't even put into words the peace of mind that came from that realization. While many of you may have always had an "If he doesn't like me, fuck 'em" attitude, I can tell you when you've been told all your life your romantic options are limited, the decision to limit them even more and have the balls not to settle for the 1 man out of 100 who wants you just because no one else does is liberating and otherworldly. And while I may have lost the waistline that came with my former smaller size, I haven't lost the increased confidence I developed along the way. Of course there are times unrequited lust disappoints me and I have to remind myself I'm still dope even if the object of my affection doesn't think so. But then there are other times when I'm stuffing my mouth full of 100-calorie pretzels in a t-shirt and messy bun on the train and a cute guy hands me his number with the words beautiful and a smiley face on it and I feel like I'm winning. And then when said guy texts me "send me a pic" a day later I have no qualms about cutting his ass off. I do not restrict my calories and nearly kill myself circuit training to still be handed scraps. The old me might've tried to work with it; the new me is like, worst come to worst I'll just be the baddest single bish on the planet. I'm not interested in dating just to prove somebody wants me; I want to have a good time, and if I'm not, then I'm out.