dating

Lindy West: "I was in a relationship with a guy who was embarrassed to be seen with me in public."

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Lindy West knew there was something not quite right about her relationship.

“We were together all the time and we went out all the time,” West told Mia Freedman on the most recent episode of No Filter.

“But it was like… he would just act very platonic with me in public.

“I dated him for two years, in secret basically.”

She decided to press him one day on his behaviour, and asked why after dating for so long, she had never met any of his friends.

Lindy West speaks to Mia Freedman about a toxic relationship on the most recent episode of No Filter. 

“He said it was because he was embarrassed,” West recalled.

Freedman asked if this, at the very least, marked the end of their relationship. It didn’t.

“I was under the impression that this was the best I could do,” West said.

“That I wasn’t entitled to ask for anything or to demand basic respect and humanity.

“Well,” she thought. “My options are limited.”

West reasoned that it was okay – he wasn’t a “bad” guy. Most of the time, aside from that particular incident, he wasn’t mean to her.

I stole this scarf from my mom and I am never giving it back SORRY INGY I NEED IT

A post shared by Lindy West (@thelindywest) on

In hindsight West says his behaviour was reflective of external pressures. “I understand that men grow up in this toxic system too, and women are treated as a status symbol for men to show off to other men.

“If you’re an insecure man that’s as difficult to buck off as our internalised insecurities and inferiority complex,” West said.

Author of Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, columnist, feminist and fat acceptance activist, West has written extensively about her experience as a “fat woman”. She wants us to reclaim the word fat, and use it as a description rather than a weapon – devoid of moral judgement and implicit loathing.

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“As a woman, my body is scrutinized, policed, and treated as a public commodity,” she writes in Shrill.

“As a fat woman, my body is also lampooned, openly reviled, and associated with moral and intellectual failure. My body limits my job prospects, access to medical care and fair trials, and – the one thing Hollywood movies and Internet trolls most agree on – my ability to be loved. So the subtext, when a thin person asks a fat person, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ is, ‘You must be some sort of alien because if I looked like you, I would definitely throw myself into the sea.”

HOUSTON, come see me tonight!! Brazos Bookstore, 7 pm. ????

A post shared by Lindy West (@thelindywest) on

Years later, now 35 years old, West is happily married to musician and writer Ahamefule Oluo.

But as she walks down the street, alongside her spouse who is not ‘fat’, she recognises, “there’s this attitude that something’s gone wrong… he’s been duped… that something is broken in the universe.”

When they go out to dinner together, they are routinely issued separate checks – the assumption being that they are roommates or colleagues.

“I get this vibe that sometimes women are sort of hitting on him as though he’d be so relieved to be able move on to another option and to get someone who matches him. As though it’s impossible for people to just actually like each other,” West laughs.

“Or the other assumption is that he has a fetish, which is also insulting.

“We just are in love. We just like each other.”

You can listen to the full episode of No Filter with Lindy West, here. 

Check out all our podcasts and any books mentioned in any of our shows at apple.co/mamamia.

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Telstra Smart Home.

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