It’s hard enough dealing with issues of image when you’re a woman.
Everywhere you look there are air-brushed models (Slay Queens), unrealistic representations, and judgment. As I have grown, I have realized the falsehood of these things and have moved on from comparing myself to models or these Slaying Queens everywhere.
As a plus-sized woman, however, I’m frequently annoyed with stereotypes and assumptions about us. It’s time us big girls spoke up and were heard. I must thank one Neomi Nganga of MissPlusWorldKenya for her efforts and campaigns to shun the stereotypes about the thick girl.
There are many different reasons someone could be overweight, which is why the stereotypes are so aggravating. But I think it’s safe to say that generalizing any group of people is ignorant and wrong and dangerous. Overweight women are no exception.
Below are offensive stereotypes I’ve experienced and what I think people should know about them.
1. We are always eating.
What is anyone eating in these hard economic times? This is partially a lazy way of writing for a cheap laugh. But it’s a common stereotype, and it’s annoying. And is it really all that funny? Hasn’t this joke been run into the ground enough already?
2. We are all lazy.
We’re also not all lazy or inactive people. I’m busy from the minute my feet hit the floor in the morning until my head hits the pillow at night. I know of many other overweight women who are the same way. Just because we’re not hanging out at the gym like it’s a hobby doesn’t mean we’re sitting on our butts eating French fries from Kenchic all day.
3. We are all sick as a result of our weight.
We’re not all wracked with health problems, either. I realize being overweight can increase the risk of a multitude of diseases and issues (heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc.). But it’s not a guarantee, and you can’t assume an overweight person has these challenges. I remember when I first became pregnant with my son, I was 27 and by all standards of a small minded person, I was considered overweight. Don’t think I didn’t notice the up-and-down eyeball assessments I was getting. I wanted to tell them, Yes, I know I am fat, and so what? I’m not giving advice on this in any way, see your doctor for that. But yes, I had a healthy pregnancy and child. I ate healthy and had great prenatal care. But I could have done without all the judgment.
4. We’re jealous of the petite girls
Not long ago, someone at work (who happens to be thin) made a big point in speaking to me about how fat she thinks she’s getting. It’s clear I’m much heavier than she is, and she was speaking only to me at the time. This isn’t the first time I have had this type of thing said to me.
When someone who is obviously quite thin says this to someone who is obviously heavier, the first thing that comes to mind is they want you to say, “Oh, I wish I was as thin as you are! You aren’t fat at all!” They are without a doubt fishing for a compliment.
Here is the thing: I don’t care about who is thinner than I am. I am not comparing myself to anyone. We are not jealous of thin people/the slay queens.
5. We all have low self-esteem and feel awful about ourselves.
Who told you that sweetheart? We don’t all have low self-esteem, and we are not all depressed. In fact, even though I’m currently almost at my highest weight, I feel better about myself than I ever have. I realize what people find attractive can vary dramatically. The only person I truly care about being attracted to me is my husband, and he is not complaining. Some will argue that he won’t tell me if he feels unattracted to me because of my weight, he will simply go for a (mpango wa kando) or aside chick. Continue thinking that way!
6. We don’t know we are fat.
I have had more than one person in my life feel the need to point out to me that I am fat. We don’t need for people to make us aware of being overweight. We’re perfectly capable of knowing this on our own, and believe me, we know it. We are probably enrolled to some gym or doing anything possible to see the numbers come down.
7. We don’t know how to lose weight ourselves.
We don’t need to be enlightened with unsolicited advice as if we aren’t aware you need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. We aren’t all completely helpless in this capacity, and for many of us, if we want to lose weight bad enough, we’ll do it!
We aren’t all completely ignorant on how to lose weight. Sure, there are educated professionals who are skilled and experienced in helping people reach their goals. Nutritionists, personal trainers, coaches, etc. I’m not at all saying they’re not important or valuable. What I mean is, we don’t need the “rolling eyes” if we happen to indulge in seconds or have a dessert.
Just recently I posted a photo of me on my Instagram page. I had one trainer squeeze his fitness/gym link in my comment section and went further to tell me how he would help me achieve an ultimate body goals/shape. Really!!!
8. We’re all jolly slobs.
Is it really that funny for so many silly, TV shows, and book and movie characters to be chubby? Do they so often need to be represented as simple-minded, adorable goofballs? Think of the chunky kid in the kid’s adventure movie who always needs to be rescued or the portly cartoon mouse always lagging behind. You understand what I mean. Right? Some of us are educated, successful professionals and we’re goal-oriented and have a lot to offer an organization with our well-developed careers.
9. If we’re overweight, we must be unhygienic.
We also are no less likely to look or dress professionally to present ourselves well. We once had a popular columnist write a long article about fat women, how she thought they were unhygienic because they were overweight and that fat women should not blame their husbands for cheating. When I read that article my eyes almost rolled out of my head. I’ve been around too many stinky skinny people for this to be an absolute!
You know this is a common stereotype when you see the slob character in a TV show or movie portrayed as fat. You have seen it, stains on their shirt, wrinkled clothes, general unkempt appearance. This shouldn’t even be said, but not every overweight woman is unhygienic for crying out loud.
Stereotypes and assumptions are destructive. This is where discrimination is born. It’s not OK to discriminate against someone for any reason, and size is not an exception.
It’s out there. The challenge is real. It’s time we spoke out “THICK GIRLS”.