Nobuhle N Nyoni writes about dating, the opinions of others and chasing the Disney Princess dream.
If I could get a dollar for every time that I was told to learn a skill so that I am chosen by a man later in life, I would be a millionaire today. Basic life skills such as cooking, cleaning and doing laundry were reserved for me so I could practice because of course, it makes me perfect. I was set up to aspire to be someone’s forever and it made me feel like I was part of a very long multiple-choice question just begging to be cross-checked. Waiting to be noticed and given a place as someone’s queen beside their “throne.”
Naturally audition season came and I put the skills to the test, but something new was introduced to me. The need to be a ‘size 2’ with no cellulite in sight. Rejection sunk me deeper into a hole of desperation and pain. What was wrong with me? What I did not realise was how much the need for validation from a man was driving me into a pit of self-hate.
Despite being highly qualified for the role, it turned out that the world had something else to say about my body. I was too fat to be given a real chance, so many would come and go just to ‘test the waters’ of the dating scene. That is all that I was worth because the fat that shaped my body into a silhouette of sexy humps and lumps was too much for the suitors to handle.
I finally understood why family members shamed my guardian for ‘letting me get fat’; they too truly believed that a fat woman was undesirable. I sat in the dark one night and decided that this was not my fault: my guardian was an adult and should have known that my life would become this ugly if I were fat. It felt ‘good’ to blame it on someone else but not once did the anger serve me.
The anger merged with my low self-esteem caused nothing but trouble. In my early 20s I would get into relationships with the belief that men were never going to stay. I once dated this guy who was such a looker, even I could not believe it. I had been crushing on him for a while so when he finally came my way I was beyond chuffed. Each time I introduced him to a friend or family member they wore faces filled with shock. Almost as if to say that I did not deserve to be with a good looking person or that it was a miracle he was with me.
Questions like, ‘does he really like you?’ and ‘are you sure he is not cheating on you?’ popped up quite a lot. My confidence was non-existent so for people to come around and plant doubt in my head was a recipe for disaster. Too many times I caused friction in the relationship because I gave him the burden of proving that he truly wanted me. I needed him to prove to those who didn’t believe in our relationship that they were inexplicably wrong; that women like me could scoop guys like him and live happily ever after.
What better proof was there other than him being with me? I exhausted him all the way out of love and when he left I believed it was because he never wanted to be there in the first place. All the while proving to the onlookers that they were ‘right’ and bashing myself for believing in a love that I never deserved.
When I dated men that were not lookers, people did not keep quiet either. They would say things such as, ‘he has no choice but to pick from the bottom of the barrel too.’ At this point I felt ugly and I hated my body with all my heart. It started to feel like there was nobody out here that would just want me because of who I am. Being a good person in a fat body was never going to serve me and the aspiration to get married was unrealistic for me. So why had they allowed me to believe that my fairytale was coming?
Once, I was sitting around a group of people I called friends and we were talking about the weddings we wanted. I was not the only fat girl in the circle and I found comfort in that but someone pointed out something that thwarted our dreams. They said, ‘have you ever watched a Disney movie with a fat girl that finds love with a good looking guy? I mean Fiona found Shrek.’ I immediately had a lump in my throat, the world would not allow me a moment to fantasise about a future that was filled with love and happiness.
I was angry with God and the world, to the point that being told I was beautiful by a man felt like an insult. It felt like he was undermining my intelligence because I knew for a fact that there was no way he found me remotely attractive. Weirdly enough I did not stop dating, as though I was in search for a magical gem that would shrink my body to the right size within the relationships. Granted the other parties walked in with their own issues I have to take responsibility for my part.
I tore down those relationships with my insecurities too. I always thought they were lying, we talked about my body more than anything else and I constantly wanted to hear that I was beautiful only for me to call them liars. I imagine dating me back then was like being with a vampire. I sucked the love out of them and released them with bruises that they had to heal all on their own.
I am 30 years old today and I know that the beauty standards the world has set are unrealistic. I know that the people that said all those mean things to me and about me were fighting their own demons. They chose to deflect them onto me because it was easier. There has never been anything wrong with my body and the truth is there are people who are genuinely attracted to fat women. Their bodies quiver and they lose their breath at our sight, the world won’t hear it or admit it but it does not change that it is true.
Unlearning all the things I had been made to believe growing up was hard and it hurt. After years of believing that I was ugly and undesirable, I had to look at myself in the nude and find my beauty. This process taught me how powerful our minds are: whatever they believe we become. When I “became ugly” internally, I was cruel to myself and those that wanted to love me. The fact that I was still seen and chosen then should have been enough to dispel the beliefs that were shoved down my throat.
Hear it from me, fat woman, you are beautiful and desirable. You are worthy of a love that is kind, forgiving, pure, patient and filled with joy. You will find your happily ever after but you can only keep it if you understand that self-validation is all you need. Love yourself first![/restrict]