The Fat Girl’s Guide to Being Irresistible — Even to Yourself
Baby steps toward bolstering your self confidence
All women experience self-doubt. Actually, scratch that. All women — with the possible exception of the Jersey Shore cast — experience self-doubt. Not even the most seemingly together girl is immune. Despite appearing to have the perfect job, the perfect skin, the perfect curves, the perfect manicure perfect relationship. . . even she looks in the mirror and fixates on some body part she wishes were larger, smaller, tighter, smoother, or just plain different.
It’s a strange quirk of the female psyche, this tendency to put ourselves down — fat girls even moreso. Feeling insecure about our weight can hold us back from applying for a job we really want, pursuing a meaningful relationship, or trying a new activity or hobby we’ve been curious about. Negative feelings about our bodies can also affect our experiences with sex and intimacy, causing us to prefer “lights off, shirt on” sex or not allowing us to fully enjoy or respond to a partner’s affection.
While it’s unlikely a single blog post can resolve years of self doubt, if we can give you one or two real-world suggestions — or even some food for thought — that helps facilitate a positive change in your self-perception, then we’ll call it a successful day at FGG.
Stop deferring compliments
Let’s play a little game: Imagine you’re filling your water bottle in the office kitchen on Friday morning when a co-worker exclaims, “Your hair looks amazing today!” Or one of the other moms at the playground tells you how much she loves your shoes, or that your new shirt is fabulous. What about when your husband or date tells you that you’re sexy? What goes through your mind in those moments, and how do you respond?
Too many times, we brush off compliments because they make us feel awkward or unworthy. Or, worse still, we respond by putting ourselves down: “Oh, no! My hair is a disaster today with this humidity!” “Really? I think this shirt makes my arms look huge. But your shirt is adorable.” “Whatever. I’m sweaty and gross from carrying the groceries inside; there’s no way that’s sexy.”
Why can’t we stop pushing back and simply allow ourselves be appreciated? Hearing something positive about ourselves — especially about our appearance — doesn’t have to be transactional. We don’t have to automatically counter with something we don’t like, or to look for a way to even the playing field by complimenting the other person.
The next time someone praises your appearance, your body, your sense of humor, or any of your unique characteristics, there are three really simple things you need to do: Smile genuinely, say “thank you,” and believe the person who said it.
That’s it. The more accustomed you are to accepting compliments graciously, the better your chances for well-developed self esteem. You might even try writing down these positive observations about yourself, or repeating them back to yourself in the mirror or during moments of self doubt. Telling yourself “you’re attractive and desirable” might feel awkward at first — you might even laugh. But it’s been shown that self-talk is a powerful brain-changer, and you also might start to believe it.
Always play up your strengths
With your ears and mind open to receiving positive feedback, it should be just a short hop to identifying your strongest attributes — physical or otherwise. Even if it’s hard for us to express or show outwardly, each of us can identify something about ourselves that we like when we look in the mirror. Perhaps you have gorgeous eyes, or ultra-thick, shiny hair. Or maybe it’s your killer legs or a smile that lights up your whole face. My best friend is fond of joking that the headline of her fictitious online personal ad would read: “Possesses super-soft skin. . . and an 8-bit Nintendo.” And it’s certainly no coincidence that I prefer lower-cut, V-neck tops to turtlenecks.
Whatever your favorite parts, help them look their best with the right care and grooming, or the accessories to make them stand out. Give your pretty feet some pampering and a colorful summer pedicure. If you’ve got an hourglass figure, buy a dress that defines your lovely waist. Take care of your beautiful teeth with good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. Or experiment with different makeup techniques that make your green eyes sparkle or your brown eyes smolder.
Although neither confidence nor a person’s worth can be measured in body parts or physical traits, there’s something to be said for starting small and building up from there. Stepping out into the world feeling positive about even a few things about your appearance can be a seed for change in other parts of your life, too. In the same way crossing a couple of easy items off a to-do list can build momentum, knowing that you have a knock-em-dead [insert your fave trait here] can help make it easier to feel love — or even just acceptance — for the areas of your body that don’t make you as happy.
More than the sum of your parts
Beyond the bounce of a great hairstyle or the allure of impressive cleavage, there’s a whole body waiting to be understood and appreciated. Despite — or perhaps because of — the familiarity that comes with living in our own skin every day, many of us don’t often consider all the positive things our bodies do on a daily basis. What’s worse, we often try to hide, cover or ignore whole areas of our bodies because of the extra weight we carry.
But think about it: Extra weight or not, your body is both an amazing machine and a refuge. The same legs that feel “too big” manage to carry you through every day, up the stairs and down the street — even through exotic places and new experiences. For the moms out there, the stretch marks that become all you can see when you view your tummy are the evidence of loved and cherished children your beautiful body carried, nourished and birthed. And the arms you might feel ashamed to bare because of the way they flap or roll are the same arms your friends or family run to when they’re hurting, or scared, or need to be reassured. Wearing a size 8 or 28 is irrelevant in these situations, so why should size be so prevalent in how much we appreciate our bodies?
Tune in to your body
Of course, body confidence isn’t as simple as flipping a switch or we’d have done it already and I’d be talking to myself here. For some of us the process takes our whole lives and involves professional reinforcement. But activities that connect you to your body can also help foster the process. At FGG, we’ve talked about how everything from stretching to yoga to the great orgasms can enhance the mind/body relationship while also improving health and energy. Some women also find confidence through specific activities in which they feel they excel — or through which they just feel a comforting “I’m just like everyone else here” normalcy.
I’ve made no secret about the fact that the water is my happy place. And though I began taking aqua classes to improve my fitness, I’ve noticed other changes in the three months since I began attending regularly. I stand straighter now. I’m more conscious of the way my muscles work together. And, on very rare occasions, I actually feel the same fluidity in my body outside of the pool as I do in the water.
If you’re still searching for your physical happy place, try another FGG favorite activity to help access your body’s more subtle graces: The self-portrait project. Focusing regularly on locating new body angles to photograph can be a powerful tool in making peace with (and finding love for) your body. Seeing yourself from new perspectives may even help you begin to see what someone might mean when s/he says “You’re so pretty,” or even “You’re so sexy.”
Listen to your friends and family
This is possibly the strongest argument of all for self worth, and yet one that is grossly underestimated or ignored. No matter what our age or current position in life — married, dating, single, parenting or not, on top of the world or in a state of reinvention — each of us has some type of support network. Sometimes it’s a nuclear family; other times it’s an assortment of friends who fill the same role. The point is, we have people around us who see us for who we are and who love us.
I’ve often considered the double standard many of us are tempted to buy into: The notion that our plus-size friends or family members are awesome, beautiful, diverse, lovable people who enrich our lives — without stopping for a moment to consider that they likely feel the very same way about us. How is it possible to be so quick to see the beauty in others, yet so reluctant to admit it in ourselves?
The next time a friend shares that she loves how you look in a particular photo, try to stop yourself from immediately thinking she’s crazy because you had your eyes closed, or because it’s not taken from the most flattering possible angle. Instead of looking for double chins, try to see what she sees in the picture. Is it the joy spreading across your face as you break into laughter? Is it the glow of feeling loved by those around you? Is it the curl of your grin that indicates you just told a hilarious story? Or maybe it’s the pride you’re exuding upon accepting your college degree or while watching your child take his first steps.
Ultimately, beauty is more than perfectly straight teeth or cellulite-free skin. It’s the intangible light that glints from women of every size and shape, every single day. Sometimes it catches in ponytailed hair as she does the dishes, and sometimes it’s reflected in smoky, bedroom eyes. Where will someone see it today in you? And will you be brave enough to recognize and embrace it?
We want to hear your stories of self confidence and beauty. At what point in your life have you felt the most irresistible, and how did body image play into that experience? How do you tap into your reserve of confidence and desirability? Do the other plus-size women in your life realize their own beauty?