dating

'Dating as a plus size woman is hard. But it has nothing to do with the men I meet.'

There are so many myths about plus-size women. 

One of them is that it is harder for us to date. That somehow taking up space means men are less likely to want to wine and dine you. It’s built off the idea that being plus-size means you are dowdy, which is so far from the truth. I wear leopard print, own a vibrator and I’m pretty bloody fabulous.

Still, it’s a stigma I’ve encountered. Interestingly, it’s often women that are reinforcing it.

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A few years ago now, after a bad breakup, I found myself dating again - dating a lot, actually. At the time, I was looking for distraction, fun and maybe even love. I was living my own budget version of Sex And The City, less designer clothes and more crocs.

I was swiping right and heading out on a date at least once a week. 

It was also easy for me to find men - sourcing men was never the issue. I promise this isn’t a humble brag, I’m just pointing out that being plus-size has never been a hurdle in finding a date - men like all types of women. 

I received just as many matches as my skinny friends and dealt with all the same dilemmas - can I date someone that thinks it’s funny to donkey vote? (Keeping in mind he looked like a Hemsworth.)

I also want to make it clear I was dating. I wasn’t just having casual sex with men and I wasn’t just someones’ sneaky link. I wasn’t just getting a 2am text message. Men were making efforts to date me. I was going out to restaurants and bars and men were actively trying to woo me. 

Sure, sprinkled in was the odd ghosting, or unreturned text, but that happens to everyone. The majority of the time I was being pursued.

During this time, like most young women, I spent a fair amount of time talking about my dating life and sharing it with my co-workers. Yet it was something that I could tell really bothered some of the women I worked with at the time. As if they couldn’t quite work it out. Why was it so easy for me to date? Shouldn’t I just be at home reading diet books and hating myself?

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At the time there were plenty of women in my workplace who were dating too, but they were small and so why men were interested in them was never questioned - it was a given! Of course men would be interested in a slim girl. 

But my experiences did not follow this typical trope - thin equals dateable, plus size and you’re on the shelf forever.

"I wear leopard print, own a vibrator and I’m pretty bloody fabulous." Image: Supplied.

Once, when I was regaling my workmates with a story about a date I went on - the man was in his mid-thirties and proudly admitted he’d never read a book, however said he’d been keen for a second date - a co-worker interrupted and asked me quite purposefully, “Does he care about your size?” 

It jolted me. 

I remember I brushed it off and everyone began talking over her to cover up this social faux pas. Honestly, I didn’t dwell on it - my whole life people have been counting me out because of my size.

That wasn’t the only incident. A few months later, another co-worker and I were discussing how I had found myself in the middle of a love triangle. I was torn between dating a hipster guy from the inner west or a surfy guy from the beaches. It was all very dramatic, and in retrospect, silly. 

I didn’t like either of them that much, I just liked the drama. Another co-worker interjected with the question. “I’m surprised you get so much attention considering your size?” 

Then again, at a family event when I was confiding in a cousin about the men in my life, an aunty admitted she was, “surprised, I was so popular”. 

She didn’t give the reason, but it was implied - because I am big.

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And as my year of chronic dating continued, I encountered this more and more. 

Co-workers implying I should lock a guy down quickly because I was “lucky” to have a man want me. Another expressing shock when I showed her a photo of a man I was dating because he was so “fit” (implying that I wasn’t).

“Wow, he’s interested in you?” a friend of a friend said to me over drinks. “I’m surprised so many men want you, considering your size.” 

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It was an endless outpouring of other women questioning my worth.

The thing is, if you are plus-size, you are meant to be ashamed. You are meant to be quiet and dowdy and lack confidence and if you just allow yourself to exist as a normal woman, well that makes other people uncomfortable. If you don’t constantly make self-deprecating jokes about yourself, or constantly prattle on about a diet you are trying, or how you wish men noticed you, then you aren’t playing along.

You aren’t being what a plus-size woman should be; you aren’t being apologetic and invisible.

Truthfully, women are best at upholding unrealistic beauty standards and the patriarchy that created them.

We can be the worst perpetrators of these crimes. 

Throughout the ages, particular body types have been the goal for women, and they do change (think the Kardashians who have tapped into big bums). I understand that if you are a woman, who has worked so hard to be attractive by traditional standards, that seeing another woman not conform and get the same results must be frustrating.

I get it, it’s a complex issue. 

But I’ve learnt that when women make these comments to me, it really isn’t about me at all. It’s about them and their issues. It’s often about years of dieting and deprivation, of gyms and jogging, of never quite reaching some impossible standard. 

These beauty standards aren’t ever about us reaching a point of contentment, because the bar will always keep moving. So, seeing me comfortable in my skin, well I understand for some women it’s triggering. But it’s not my job to take this on. 

Trust me, just be you, in the body that works best for you and let others be themselves as well. I know it’s a tired trope but confidence is sexy, being yourself is always attractive and getting a date has nothing to do with your weight, I’m living full figured proof! 

You can follow Mary Rose Madigan on Instagram here.

Feature Image: Supplied.  

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