Everyone, I’d like you introduce you to Pumpkin. He’s my husband of almost 18 months, and is, says I, The Best Person In The World, Ever.
Here we are! (As part of a wedding party, not our own wedding)
He’ll feature in quite a few of my posts. You’ll like him – he loves gaming, going for runs and big, philosophical discussions, has impeccable taste in music and movies, has more pairs of shoes and prettier hair than his wife, makes mean omelettes and French toast, cuddles like a demon, and is generally the kindest, gentlest, most loving man I’ve ever met. Yeah, I’m biased.
We’ve been celebrating, because on Sunday, 30 June 2013, it was our fifth birthday. As in, it’s been five whole years since we’ve been a couple. We met a dating site (thank God for the internet ;)) in about January 2008, we finally met over Queen’s Birthday (in late May), he asked me to be his girlfriend after our fourth date about a month later on 30 June, and we’ve been just about inseparable ever since! And, it’s fitting that I mention our fifth birthday on here, because he has been a HUGE part of my Body Love journey these past five years.
In my pre-Pumpkin days, I was pretty convinced (though I longed for it) that couplehood was not for me. Cos, I was fat, y’see. And not just fat, but physically deficient overall. As far as I was concerned, my eyes and maybe my legs at a pinch were the only things going for me. My friends who had boyfriends or were consistently getting laid were gorgeous – “regulation hotties” as they say in Mean Girls – and thin. And if they were carrying any weight, they were carrying it in the right place. (Looking back on it, my mates who were coupling off came in all different shapes and sizes – but, my self-image was so shite back then, I was pretty sure the Hunchback of Notre Dame had a better chance of landing a date than I). Yup, I was a walking Janis Ian song.
So, I believed that, in order to bag me a bloke, I had to get thin. But, since getting thin had eluded me so many times, the best I could hope for was a partner that *accepted* my body. A parter who could see past all my lumpy bits and be able to appreciate me for my wonderful, dazzling personality, my sharp wit and my big heart (cos, y’know, hearts are allowed to be “big”). Someone like the little kids in the old stories – who went to the toyshop and chose the teddy bear one eye, no legs and bald patches because they “saw with their hearts” and were much kinder and lovelier than the other children. For that, I knew I needed a *really nice guy*.
I met Pumpkin on a blind date, and he was a really nice guy. Really nice. And cute. 😉 And pretty much ticked all my boxes. And, eventually, we fell in love. But, what I came to realise was that Pumpkin fell in love with me not *in spite* of my body but *because* of it. Yes, he fell in love with my wonderful, dazzling personality, sharp wit and big heart. But, he was pretty hot for me physically as well. 😉 I remember one time when we were first together, when we were making out and getting all amorous, and I (TMI alert…) ended up losing my top along the way…and his eyes lit up, he said to me, all husky and jagged, “My God, you’re gorgeous,” and kissed me harder. “Bullshit,” I thought. “I’m pale, I”m flabby, I’ve got rolls and love handles everywhere, I’m wearing my worst bra and he’s going to get turned off.” But, he didn’t. He truly loved (loves) my fat body. He loved my voluminous bosom (duh ;)), my generous thighs, my round bottom, my chubby face and bountiful belly – he generally had a very high regard for my wobbly bits, to quote the Colin Firth in “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason”. He loved my hair, eyes, nose, lips, smile, gap in my front teeth – pretty much everything. I was beautiful to him – and not just on the inside.
Now, I’m a feminist from way back – so I’ve always felt a little uneasy about relying on a man to improve my self image. And, even with a wonderful partner like Pumpkin, I still struggled. All those years of self-loathing had well and truly done their damage – and, if I’m honest, to hear such loving, tender words spoken about my body from a man was…weird. Not just because of the voices in my head constantly ripping me apart, but because I’d spent a great deal of my life on the receiving end of words that were *anything but* loving and tender, some of which from some of the strongest male figures in my life (and a former partner). So, it was hard to take in at first. But, Pumpkin was undeterred, and still he called me his beautiful girl, his gorgeous woman, his hot bride, stunning, glorious and magnificent. And, little by little, I began to believe it. So, like it or not, Pumpkin’s love has gone a long way to helping me like myself just that little bit more.
If I’m honest, I do hope Pumpkin and I can be some kind of inspiration to people who despair of finding a relationship because our society has told them that their bodies are not worthy of love and respect. These days, we live in a culture that is deeply uncomfortable with the idea of fat people, like myself, finding love. In fact, our culture is so disgusted by fat people that it cannot bear the thought of those of us outside the beauty norm having anything remotely resembling a romantic relationship. We see it splashed all over the internet – those stupid slogans like “guys don’t make passes at girls with fat asses”, those horrendous No Fat Chicks posters, all those idiotic and fat-shaming memes. We’ve got people like Samantha Brick, proudly declaring that her husband has threatened to divorce her if she gains weight, and that the only way to land a date is dieting to the point where you pass out, and Mariella Frostrup telling us it’s okay not to date fat men because their fat is a sign they’ve got serious issues, and won’t be a suitable partner (uh, yeah).
In the movies and on tele, we very rarely see larger people, and especially larger *women*, involved in romantic storylines. At this moment, the only larger actresses that spring to mind that have had their own romance plots are Melissa McCarthy in Gilmore Girls and Mike and Molly, Sara Ramirez in Grey’s Anatomy, Nikki Blonsky in Hairspray Nia Vardalos (and she’s lost *a lot* of weight recently) in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. (Of course, there was Bridget Jones, as I mentioned up top – but, instead of finding a bigger actress to play that role, they got Renee Zellweger to gain weight and praised her for “suffering” for her art). Nope, fat women on screen are either the Mums or Aunties, the comic fall-guys or class clowns, or the bullied outcasts who eat their feelings, not the girlfriends or the lovers. And if they are the girlfriend of the lover, fashion magazines get their undies in a knot and say they’d be grossed out to see fat people making out on TV.
And, well, too many times have I seen the trope of “fat-chick-as-funny-fall-guy-and-can’t-get-a-date” splashed about by companies trying to sell weight loss products. Weight Watchers did a doozy several years back, with a TV ad featuring a fat woman in party hat on New Year’s Eve, sitting alone and mopey at the bar, while all these happy couples making out around her. Make it your New Year’s Resolution to lose weight once and for all was the theme, but of course. The worst one, however, is an ad for weight loss surgery which appears time and time again in our major daily newspaper here in Wellington – which has, in the centre, an overweight young lass, sitting with her head in her hands, starting at one of those traditional bride-and-groom wedding toppers, looking wistful and defeated both at once. The tagline? “Obesity’s not much fun. Can we help?” Yup, that’s right. Get your stomach amputated, get skinny, get the bloke, get the dream wedding. Vomit.
Honestly, it all comes down to the basic *dehumanisation* of fat people. Our culture can’t allow us love, because we’re subhuman. Heather Kolaya, model, fat activist and writer of the brilliant blog Fat Girl Posing, spoke about the dehumanising and desexualisation of fat people, in which she wrote:
Be prepared to be stripped of your entire identity as a fat person and especially as a fat woman. Not only are you not a sexual being, but you don’t even register as anything other than a genderless blob. This is because fat people are so gross that people don’t want to think of them as sexual beings. Much like old people or disabled people, or, god, you can think about the conservative’s ick reaction to gay sex (you can think about the ageism, ableism, and homophobia that go along with those as well). People just think, ick! and so reduce you to a thing. It’s the ultimate in dehumanization. To have your sexuality taken from you just because someone else can’t stand the thought of it.
Yes, it’s disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. And I bought into it. I believed that love, relationships, sex and marriage were not for the likes of me. Those were for thin girls. Me, I was nothing more than a meme to be laughed at, a cautionary tale from a columnist, the fat friend, a tacky “before” picture and, as Heather put it, a sexless blob. But, with the help of my amazing husband and the Fat Acceptance movement, I saw that it was all, in the words of Homer Simpson, Grade A Bullplop.
I was fat when Pumpkin and I had our first blind date, when he asked me to be his girlfriend, when we had our first kiss and first slept together. I was fat when we moved in together, and on the night he proposed. I was fat on our wedding day and, you betcha, I’m still fat, after a year and a half of marriage. And, y’know, he’s a big lad, too. But, we’re still in love, rolls and bumps and dimples and all. Our bodies are beautiful, and we won’t hear anything different about each other. We’re sexual beings, we’re loving beings, we’re awesome beings. Human beings. We’re not a meme, or a cautionary tale, or a before pic, or a pair of blobs. Just two people, who are crazy about each other, who happen to be on the tubby side.
Through the Fat Acceptance movement, I learned that my body was, in fact, worthy of love. Wondorous, glorious, unapologetic love. To those people, like me, who grew up believing that their bodies are the ultimate barrier to finding a soulmate – that’s a lie, sent to you with love from Hollywood and the internet and diet companies. Your bodies are worthy of dignity, care respect – and of romance, partnership, marriage and really great sex. And love. Loads and loads of love. Do not settle for anything less. Fat, or thin, you are worthy.
Me, I stand for Love At Every Size. And, I have a fabulous husband who stands with me.