Let’s admit it; we all want to be able to fit into tiny tees and skinny jeans, groan when we see rolls of fat on our body and wish we had a plastic surgeon on speed dial. Yes, we live in an image-obsessed world. It doesn’t help that larger women (or men for that matter) are immediately stereotyped. For most people, being fat means you are too lazy to exercise, too greedy to stop eating and too unmotivated to do anything about your weight.
Teacher Irnny Irianny Chuma’ing, 29, who wears a size 16, weighs 74kg and stands at 1.58m, agrees that people always stereotype her because of her weight. “People have pre-conceived ideas of what a fat person is like. Being unattractive, lazy and stupid are common associations,” she says. “I used to get taunted by my relatives. My weight was blamed for everything, from being single, to why there was no food left in the refrigerator!”
Sasha Rafi, 29, a public relations manager who weighs 80kg, knows what it’s like hanging out with the skinny crowd, especially in school. Bigger girls were often picked on and the group would say things like “Why does she even bother touching up her makeup when she has all that fat on her?” Sasha tried to eat little to keep being with this crowd and soon, she was tired of playing thin.
Fighting fat: an uphill battle
Every overweight woman we spoke to for this story said they tried desperately to lose their weight. Even if they didn’t want to do it on their own, their parents, siblings, friends and doctors will pile on the advice to lose the pounds.
Sasha, who was a Trim and Fit (TAF) club member in primary school, says she did all she could to lose weight. And succeeded. “I became a vegetarian. Once my weight dipped by 30kg, I became more popular. I blended in with the skinny in-crowd and suddenly, boys were attracted to me, not just for my intellect but on a physical level as well.” The downside? She is struggling to trust the friends she earned from being on such a severe diet.
Another woman who has problems with the life of deprivation she has chosen is Celeste Lim, 34. The size 16 event planner, who stands at 1.63m and weighs 78kg, has been trying to get to her ideal weight of 60kg by restricting how much she eats and going to the gym to exercise. But she says, “I have off days when I get depressed and just let go. I eat even more, thinking, ‘I’m so huge already, what’s the point of losing weight?”
Men who love large
If big women need more reasons to love themselves, then rest assured that their Mr Big is out there. Men like teacher Kingsley Ong, 33, who doesn’t like thin girls all that much because “some of them look like prepubescent girls. So stop wishing for smaller bums because the truth is… men don’t really have a clue what size you are. A woman is gorgeous when I see that she believes it.”
Sasha fits that profile. She says: “I love my curves and I don’t try to hide them like I used to. I jazz up my wardrobe with bright colours and also make it a point to maintain a good posture when I walk.” It’s true that people are drawn to great looks but if you give off positive vibes, be it a sense of humour or inner confidence, people gravitate towards that as well.
If you don’t have much of a funny bone, don’t despair. Find a way to make peace with yourself, like Irnny did. When she broke up with her boyfriend of one year, she packed her bags and went on a month-long trip to India. Her visit put things in perspective for her. “When you see poor children fighting to stay alive, whatever problems I have seem so minuscule,” Irnny shares. “I may be plump but I am in good health; there are many thin people who are sick too. There is a lot more to life than fitting into tiny tees and worrying if the next guy I meet will leave me for a girl several pounds lighter.”