Not-Skinny Girl Seeks Dude Who Has Wiener, Doesn’t Suck: On Dating At Every Size
When I was in high school I was very briefly in love with this sensitive, Jewish poet who sent me rhyming couplets via AIM and told me he had a crush on my brain.
I went to an all-girls high school, and opportunities for meeting and dating boys were pretty slim. Fortunately, I was involved in a children’s theatre company rife with potential objects onto whom I could I dump my scary hormonal and unhinged brand of obsessive unrequited love. When I think back on these crushes, The Poet sticks out, which is strange, because – and I say this with zero malice – at the end of the day, in terms of my other crushes, he didn’t really rank. What distinguished The Poet from the slouching bleached-blond tech nerd I would drunk dial wasted my freshman year of college and the too-young for me magical rock god was that, with The Poet, for the first time, there was a chance – a handful of foggy cringe-worthy moments – when he very nearly liked me back.
I wasn’t a confident kid. By the time high school started up, I’d been waging a full-fledged war of self-hatred and recrimination upon my body for no less than five years. Five years to develop theories, like maybe how I wasn’t worthy of love because I was fat. Turns out five years is just enough time to start to believing those theories too.
Sure, a lot of it was the media telling me I wasn’t good enough. I will never forget watching Braveheart with my family and during William Wallace’s wedding night not even grimacing with distaste to be viewing a love scene with my folks because I was so caught up in my how boobs didn’t look like boobs of the actress on the screen, it made me unspeakably sad. I was also, it should be mentioned, in love with Mel Gibson at this time and my sadness was probably compounded by the knowledge that surely such a babe would never want to cup my misshapen mounds. But it wasn’t just the media, it was in the air all around me – my peers beginning to disparage their looks, my mom celebrating the end of a Slim Fast shake diet – at a very young age, the idea of a perfect body and a perfect face – that such a thing existed – was already really plain, and the fact that I fell far short of the mark was also incredibly clear.
When I met The Poet, I was immediately smitten. We were rehearsing a play, Romeo and Juliet. It didn’t shake out like you’d think – I was playing Mercutio (because I rule) and he was in the ensemble, a Capulet, if memory serves. I mentioned to a mutual friend, as one does in these situations, that I smelled what The Poet was cooking, and he passed on word, through this unwillingly emissary, that he might in fact, not be unresponsive to my advances. Screen names were exchanged. Late night chat sessions were embarked upon. An electronic courtship commenced. Though we saw each other almost daily after school to rehearse, we were shy in person – the left hand didn’t know what the right was doing. At night we blossomed – as of course it would if the written word was involved. He has a poet, and I have always been more easy and the most alive when I am writing it all down.
One night he suggested we all go to a pretty popular local restaurant chain – think if Denny’s and Friendly’s had a baby and that baby in turn, had a thick Rhode Island accent. This was to be a date, a real date. Our emissary and his lady would accompany us, and so our real date turned into a double date. In my mind, we were basically engaged.
I don’t remember the date itself (which is probably pretty telling – BAZINGA!) but I remember getting home, jumping out of his parents’ car and jogging up to my house – every inch of my body was smiling. I remember chatting briefly with my folks before running upstairs to my room where I would log on and break down the events of what had just transpired with another friend. I plopped myself into my desk chair and opened the bottom drawer of my desk where I knew I had a full row of Easter Peeps sitting. I have never been a candy hoarder. When I buy candy I eat it, and while I punished myself in all sorts of ways, I never made food evil – I made it everything: solace, succor, and sweet escape. But for whatever reason, in moment of disgust, I’d told myself I couldn’t eat the Peeps because they would make me fat and then no one would date me. That night, after having gone on a successful date, I broke out the Peeps (which, I’ll be real guys, I’m not even into Peeps really, they are kinda barfy) and bit into one while typing with my free hand thinking – so genuinely thinking – “Now that I have a boyfriend I can eat whatever I want!” The euphoria and the rush of sugar to my blood stream seemed to hit me at the same moment. I had successfully fooled someone into loving me, and now all bets were off.
Things fell apart almost immediately, and not because of me eating the Peeps.
The Poet, it soon revealed, while smitten with my brain, found himself very much smitten with the whole self – body, brains, soul, and all – of another high school acting group friend. He was a teenage boy, all testosterone and angst and he hadn’t learned how to have a girl be just a friend any more than I had learned to with boys (ha ha ha I have barely done this now and I am 28, y’all. That shit was a MILESTONE.) I wish I could say I handled his rejection with grace, but I didn’t. It broke my heart because it seemed to validate everything I knew to be true: if I ever wanted to find love, I’d have to lose weight.
That sort of circular thinking will drive you to a very special kind of insanity. Because, sure, if you lose weight, certain men might be attracted to you who weren’t before – and you know what’s going to happen once you start to date them? You’ll wonder if they would’ve dated you when you were fat. And it will make you paranoid and sad – even more sad than forcing yourself to forever restrict calories in a pursuit of an unrealistic, unachievable standard of beauty, because the only thing sadder than convincing yourself that you are only worthy of love if you are thin, is the idea that you can never really trust in the love of the person you’re with because you changed yourself to win them. I am allowed to say this, because I’ve totally been that girl. I spent more time than I’d care to recall being the one desperately trying to get thin, refusing to post my profile on any dating sites because I wasn’t at my goal weight yet, shutting out guys because I couldn’t trust them.
Now I find myself in a new position – I am a not-skinny woman, who is happy with all of her aspects and who wants very much to share the self I have struggled to reach with someone who’s got a wiener and doesn’t suck. I associate being single for a long stretch with the darkest hours of my adolescence. This transition to adult not-skinny me hasn’t been easy – nothing about learning to accept my body has been easy – I would say the stretches of time I feel confident, happy, and hopeful are just about as long as the times where I trash-talk myself and hopes for one day finding someone kind and funny to start love, share interests and start a family with.
As an fully-grown lady (holla!) I’ve got a new set of challenges in terms of embracing my size as a part of myself that is just as sexy, just as funny, and just as awesome as the rest of myself. For every successful first date, I’ve got the horror stories – the chubby-chaser who berated me for not being big enough, the guy who accused me of being fifty pounds heavier than my photos. For every day where I walk down the street and feel for a glancing moment as though I am owning everything I am completely, I’ve got some guy asking if he can have some cream for his coffee – which, really? That’s what you want? Because, 1.) ew, dude. and 2.) REALLY Universe? That’s how you want to play?
I think it’s only natural that I appraise my body in a way I don’t appraise my personality, my soul – if everyone else is going to objectify it then hell, I may as well follow suit, right? I’ve tried lately to incorporate this idea that my body is only one part of a much bigger picture into my thinking lately. While an idea like this should seem logical, when you’ve viewed your body as an enemy keeping you from happiness, keeping you from success, keeping you from love, it’s a pretty revelatory one. Like I said, I still get scared – I still get panicked, and when that stuff strikes it isn’t nice – ‘What if it isn’t the weight, what if it’s…you?” That’s the scariest thing I can imagine, that I have spent so much of my life fixated on my looks and my weight that I have undernourished parts of my personality and that in the end, this is what will keep me from attaining happiness. But it isn’t true. The truth, in its way and as it often is, is much scarier – I haven’t found love because I’m not ready, I haven’t found love because I’m a bit of a workaholic with managed anxiety and a tendency to navel gaze, I have haven’t found love because, in the immortal words of RuPaul, ‘If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you going to love someone else?” I haven’t found love because loving myself is still a heady and giddy-making affair, I haven’t found love because I’m an old school romantic, I haven’t found love because, in spite of everything, it scares me shitless. I haven’t found love because in spite of all my desire and all the love I have to offer, I have a lot to take care of before I do – a lot of reasons, a lot of good, reasons, a lot of reasons that should maybe be addressed in a therapeutic setting – but all my reasons fall to silence in the face of the one reason I didn’t right down, because it isn’t true: that I don’t deserve it. Because I do. And so do you. And so does everyone. Except for maybe Hitler – and even he had a love child – no seriously, go Google News search it – weird, right?