The Plus Side of Dating

“He said I like you, I think I really do. But I have never dated a big girl. I am afraid that my friends will tease me.” – Anonymous

“I want a woman that can take my attention off all the other beautiful women out there, the sexier women out there.” – Anonymous

“I was afraid to meet his family, not because I didn’t think I was woman enough or smart enough. But because I wasn’t small enough, I let him know how I felt. He agreed.” – Anonymous

“The next morning, I rolled over in bed. He was looking at me, and I stared back. Waiting for the first whisper of love. I reached and grabbed his hand. He squeezed it tight and said “I think you need to lose weight or you will lose me.” – Anonymous

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I am 26 years old, and I am a confident women, a woman who has definitely settled into her skin. But I haven’t always been this way. A big part of finding my confidence has been to understand where exactly I lost it. But for a long time I have been scared to write about this side of my life. I have been scared to acknowledge the power that the other sex had on my perception of myself. I have been afraid that the next guy would think I carried too much emotional baggage, that I was insecure, or that I had been through too much emotionally for him to handle. But now I am ready to turn my emotional baggage into a tool, because in the dire moments that I needed a light to let me know that I wasn’t something that could be poked at and molded to make someone else feel comfortable, I had no one. So to the women who are unsure that they will ever be loved or appreciated or found sexy because of their size. I guess I am writing this raw, and unfiltered, just for you.

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A lot of you know that I live a very public life, many people have a way of reminding me of how unnecessarily public I am. But what no one realizes is that my life has been a carefully curated view of the part of my experience that I choose to present. Over the last 10 years of my life, I have dated several men, and even fallen in love once or twice. But no one can possibly understand what it feels like to have the quality or potential of your relationship measured by your ability to fit into what society expects your partner to desire.

For as loud and bold as I appear, I have silenced the quiet fire that burns inside every time I would hear people ask me questions like:

"So can you actually sit on his lap without flattening him?"

"What did you have to do to get a guy like that?"

"I hope you know that you aren’t his type."

"Men will say they love curves, but remember that curves wont keep a man faithful."

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But my biggest challenge was hearing these very sentiments echoed by the one person I ran to when the world felt cruel. The most painful feeling is seeking shelter in someone else’s insecurity. For years I felt like any form of relationship or love was a favor that was granted to me because I deserved to have a taste of what the world would be like if I just became like everyone else.

This is the part where you might be waiting for the turning part in the story, the moment where I tell you how I overcame it all. But I possibly have not. I am single, not by choice but by requirement. Because I may not be able to teach someone how to love any part of me, but I have come to love myself enough to understand that I can no longer be perceived as a temporary representation. I have come to understand that if a man sees me, and also imagines what I would look like or feel like any other way than I am now, then I would rather be alone. I would rather look at myself in the mirror and be unhappy with what I see than have someone tell me that they see a better me, if I let them help me.

You may see us curvy women as balls of insecurity, and maybe we are. But insecurity is a human reaction, a fear of anything that isn’t the pre-conceived norm. And maybe I am okay not being the norm.

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While dating someone who only sees what you look like on the outside is never something you recover from.  I now have the power of my words to speak to those who feed into this unhealthy societal bubble.

To the people who stare at a plus size woman dating an “average” man. Please take a moment and understand that curvy women are not a species that has no business cross breeding. Love is not a race, or a competition. So when you question” how she got that guy” not only do you shine light on your own insecure shallowness, but you demonstrate that you see nothing of yourself beyond what “your” credit card paid for.

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To the men out there, what I can tell you, is that insecurity is not a soley female issue. If you look at a woman and you find yourself looking at her with the lens of an architect, ready to chisel, carve and shape her into the woman you may have dreamed of while scrolling through your Instagram feed. I ask you to leave her untouched, flawed and perfectly different.

To the girl like me. To the girl who has the power to write about the challenges of falling in love in a world that forces you to measure your love-a-bility by the power to steal and hold the attention of a man. To the girl whose name is Hayet Rida, my darling you need to know that it gets better.  Love is not a favor that is granted to you by another person, love is a partnership where your everyday task is not to hope that sucking in your stomach or praying to the porcelain Gods will keep him with you long enough to make it to the next man crush Monday.

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To the woman who may right now be the woman that I used to be. To the woman who feels unworthy of someone else’s love. While I cannot tell you who to love or who to date. Know that there are people out there who will learn to embrace and love every single insecurity that you have been convinced that you have. There are men out there that have the power to breathe beauty into what you once hated about yourself, there are men out there that have the power to empower you to live in security.

But I wished I had the courage I have now to be able to speak to myself, to have talked myself. Growth is a beautiful process, and today I am strong enough to know one thing.

When you break me apart, you give me the power to rebuild myself, piece by piece to become the women that I was always meant to be.

Emotionally yours,

That Hayet Rida