“Larger than life is just the right size.”

That is one of my favorite quotes from To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, the comedy that put such macho men like Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes in drag. The whole thing is completely quotable, especially if you’re trying to develop your own self esteem without the general support of the public at large.

I figure this resonates with me for two reasons. One, I must have been a drag queen in a past life because I’m totally all about breaking out some glitter and singing “River Deep Mountain High” with gusto. Two, I’m an obese woman in a society that, while becoming more and more obese itself, reveres the super thin as the ultimate in beauty.

“Larger than life is just the right size” is only correct if you don’t want to ride in a plane, ride on a roller coaster, or try to “fit” into regular life. If you’re too large in those circumstances, then you get escorted out of those situations humiliated because everyone can see that you’re not “normal”, and generally speaking have no real sympathy for your situation.

This whole thing comes up as the result of director Kevin Smith getting bumped from a Southwest Airlines flight because of his size. The airline itself has a general policy where if a passenger is deemed too large to fit into their seat comfortably, they are going to be charged for two seats. The criteria for deciding who exactly is “too large” is anyone not able to fit between the seats with the arm rests down AND they require a seat belt extender.

Per Smith, he did not fit either of these criteria but was escorted off the plane anyway.

I should probably interject here that the reason this comes up as a blog topic for me is because I love Southwest Airlines and probably fly that preferably more than any other airline because of the way they’ve always treated me as a larger passenger. The flight staff is usually always discreet and I’ve only been bumped out of my seat once because I happened to be sitting on the emergency exit aisle and you can’t be on that aisle if you require a seat belt extender.

And since about 2000 I have.

When this policy became an issue many, many years back I began to realize how much obese people are loathed by other passengers. Not because of who I sat next to, I’ve never had one negative experience flying because of anyone I’ve personally encountered. Generally I’ve always had the good fortune to sit next to friendly, outgoing, accepting people (even a bunch of guys on the way to Vegas once) who engaged me in conversation and never once said anything or did anything to make me feel like a nuisance.

No, that came courtesy of the pages and pages of posts jam packed with vitriol over disgust how “blubber” “oozes” into the other seat and rendering that passenger’s flight completely intolerable. This became increasingly clear with the majority of fliers who “weighed in” on the subject, who not only had no tolerance for bigger passengers, but tended to use negative, abusive language in the situation, which was acceptable as “the norm” by everyone else.

(Even in Kevin Smith’s story, per a tweet yesterday the CNN blog about the subject showed 58% of responders to a poll sided with Southwest Airlines.)

This acceptable hate towards people like me actually became a point of panic for me to the point I really didn’t want to fly.

First of all, I can’t afford the second seat. Flying is expensive and if I can manage to swing a ticket it’s usually on a very tight budget. If I were forced to pay for a second seat, that’d mean I couldn’t go – period. Which is great for the slim schlub who has the great misfortune of being seated next to me, I guess, but nothing I really want to gamble on.

Secondly, it’s made me paranoid about the people I have to six next to. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to make waves even if I am drowning, so the last thing I want to do is inconvenience anyone or be the reason they have a bad day. (Unless you piss me off, then all bets are off)

I’m the good girl… the nice girl… the one who will sit as cramped and miserable in her little niche of the world to prevent my own choices from being a problem for anyone else.

I get it, okay? It’s not your fault I’m fat. If you passed me on the street, I could simply offer you look away and that way your life would not be impaired by my unsightliness. But on a plane, we’re both kinda stuck.

This is probably why I always want to fly with someone. People who already love me, blubber and all, probably don’t mind if I “ooze” into their space. And I always usually use them as a shield between me and anyone else on the plane. (This means I’m either a window person or an aisle person, very rarely the person in between).

Third, I’m not big on public humiliation. I was walked off a roller coaster once because of my size (the seat belt didn’t fit) and that was the limit of such experiences I really want to endure in my life. Just hearing Kevin’s story of being walked off a full plane of people who likely knew him already thanks to his screen time as Silent Bob sent terror through me like you would not believe.

And the majority of the responses since then to his story, identical to the ones years ago with SW decided to implement their “customers of size” policy, just reaffirm my original phobia about being fat and flying. To the point I’m ready to postpone flying anywhere until I drop 50 pounds because I want to avoid this painful scenario as much as possible.

The irony in all this is I happen to have two Southwest tickets to fly anywhere I want to go.

Life. Who knew?

But it gives me more incentive to do what needs to be done by June. I’ve pledged 50 pounds lost and that’s what I’m going to do. Not just so I can fly, that’s ridiculous. I’m not losing weight so other people can be more comfortable around me – I’m doing it so I can be more comfortable in my own skin, healthier and live longer.

No, I’m going to lose those 50 pounds because that’s what I’ve promised to do. I figure the first step to an epic life is living up to your promises.

Even with 50 pounds lost I’m still going to be the big lady on the plane who searches the face of every other passenger for that look of dread that says, “Oh no, I’m not going to have to sit by you am I?”

Because no matter how much I’m trying to lose weight and get healthier, when I walk down the street I’m still the fat lady. And believe me when I tell you there is still a bias, a resentment – a literal hatred because of it. And, sadly, it’s universally accepted.

But I’m not going to lose weight for you. Been doing that for years and it’s never worked. It’s only made me hate myself with the same level of vitriol so many have demonstrated in this issue, and that’s never worked either.

I just have to keep in mind the very wise words of advice from our resident sage, Hal Sparks, who answered a formspring.com question thusly:

The average American woman is not in any capacity beautiful by Hollywoods unrealistic standards. As a gentleman and a lover of the female form, give us (the average american woman) a pep talk. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are beautiful even if

Here’s the only Pep talk I can give anyone about these kinds of things.

No one can make you feel bad without your permission. You set the standards for yourself. If you feel “less than” because of someone else’s standards it is because you agree with them. If you seek daily to live an extraordinary life then these absurd limited notions of beauty will cease to bother you. The choice of how to feel is always ours.

A good many of the women I have found extraordinarily beautiful in my life have been derided as outside that norm. Even fans have attacked some of my ex-girlfriends for their looks. It wasn’t Hollywood that told me my girlfriend wasn’t beautiful… it was other women.. on the internet. “Hollywood” gave Lady Gaga a career and it’s the snark brigade that calls her a man and says her nose is too big.

I have no patience for the fashion industry setting an anemic, sickly standard for women’s bodies that apparently attempts to make them look as much like boys as possible…. but I also am constantly disgusted by the ragging that women give each other about features that are natural while refusing to set healthful standards for their own lives.

Here’s the rules:

You can’t make fun of anyone for anything they can’t change naturally.

And you can’t complain about anyone who sets a higher standard than you being perceived as better than you.

If your self-esteem is diminished by the actions or perceptions of others then that is internal work that You are responsible for.

We are being systematically taught to argue for our own weakness by gauging our worth on the standards of others and giving up when we can’t meet them.

Hum. Maybe I should dress up in drag the next time I board a plane and really give em somethin’ to talk about.


25 thoughts on ““Larger than life is just the right size.”

  1. That’s awful about Kevin Smith, especially since he didn’t qualify for the circumstances.

    If I give someone a “don’t sit next to me” look, it’s because I harbor disdain for people in general regardless of weight. I’m an equal opportunity misanthrope. lol

    That formspring answer Hal gave resonated with me, too. It was a much-needed brick to help me with self-esteem, health, and weight loss. On a side note, as of tomorrow I’m going full-fledged vegan for 40 days (Lent). Wish me luck!

    The only person or standard we should try to appease is our own. Lose weight and get healthy for one person and one person only–yourself.

    1. Good luck! 🙂 Lemme know how it goes not liking too many veggies so I can continue to work on my steak and potato man. haha

      Yeah probably a lot of people don’t want someone sitting next to them because of those reasons but after reading how unabashed they were about their fat biases that’s what I attribute the looks for now, regardless.

      Still… people are getting on a plane – there are other people on it. I think we all should pretty much deal.

  2. Here’s my contribution to the TWF quotes: “If you want him to know there’s steak for dinner, you gotta let him hear it sizzle.”

    “It only takes a fairy.”

  3. LOL I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m going to try to get as much mileage out of the veggies I do like, so we’ll see. I do want to eat more fruit as well and try to overcome my fears and try more new vegetables. I made vegan stuffed bell peppers that were so good!

    That’s a good one, too, that I need internalize again as well.

    1. That sounds good – I’ll have to include that in my shopping list for the week. Right now I’m out of everything so I haven’t been eating well. I broke down and had margarine on toast yesterday.

  4. I ate a tiny bit of cheese today, so don’t feel badly.

    I got the recipe from a cookbook for slow cooker meals. It was excellent.

  5. You know what really gets me are the articles about how women who wear a size 4 are now too fat for the industry, and the fact that we keep buying into all of that crap as well. I know that as I get older, and my tits keep sagging lower, my post hysterectomy belly keeps getting worse, I find my self praying for a partner with an intelligent mind, a good and wicked sense of humor and glasses as thick as the bottom of a pop bottle. lol.

    But seriously, the classic Beauty Myth that Naomi Wolf wrote about so many years ago is still relevent. Our media dictates this bullshit out to us, and we just keep going along with it, keep buying our daughters and nieces barbie dolls with unrealistic figures and nothing but air between her plastic ears. Hal said it right when he said “The choice of how to feel is always ours.” It totally is, we are responsible for our own limitations if we choose to set them based on some designers dress dummy.

    However, that being said it still hurts to hear people make fun of you due to your size, it still makes your heart ache when even though you accept your size, others in your social circles don’t and you spend Year after year alone on Valentines day, or evening after evening as the 5th wheel on outings with your friends. Because let’s face it those Hot chicks get a thrill out of being the center of attention, and dragging their token “fat friend” along to the bar with them makes them look just that much skinnier in comparison. The option of not going along for the ride is nice in theory but damnit sitting home alone while every else is out on the town sucks too. So yeah we go out with them anyway, guzzle down the free drinks the guys wooing our skinny friends buy us trying to get us on their side so they can take her home at the end of the night, and still feel like shit knowing that once again we are going home alone to the cat and pint of Chubby Hubby while they fuck like rabbits and burn up all of the 4 calories they inhaled at dinner.

    Yeah I’m a bit bitter about this, having just spent another Valentines day home alone listening to phone call after phone call and reading status update after status update of all of my non-single, industry conforming friends talk about their awesome romantic plans over the weekend, but it is all kinda par for the course.

    I love Hal to death but I guess that I am just not quite as enlightened as he is, either that, or living in a size 26/28 body isn’t quite as Jolly as people may think it is. I have always been a big girl and will always be a big girl….It is just me, but every now and then, I wish I was a perfect size 10, with a D cup bra (that is all tit and not tit and side fat stuffed into the cups), and that at the end of the night I had phone numbers stuffed in my pockets instead of cab fair when I get left again at the end of the evening when my Skinny friend takes home the cute guys she met at the bar. However, that aint real life, this is, and the world needs to reinvent it’s media driven attitudes and realize that there is more to people than outward appearances, and that anyone wearing a size 4 needs a damn good meal.

    1. I think Hal is looking at it from the POV that if we don’t like something about ourselves that is changeable, we should change it, instead of internalize the hurt and pain from others. And he knows that this is not easy but given all the ways he’s developed his skills over the years (as a martial artist and a musician) that argument doesn’t really negate that we can change if we really want to.

      But I know what you mean. Until I’m a normal weight I’m always going to be the butt of the joke for some people. When I walk down the street they don’t know what I’m doing to help change – they just see the weight.

      I think it’s kinda BS that we don’t hold people to the same standard in fat biases as other biases – that sort of instant judgment is just as ill informed as if someone is black, gay, homeless, tattooed, short, handicapped, etc. People should be more evolved than that, which should be something we expect from them – rather than change on the part of the targets of their prejudice.

    2. Dovesland, I can COMPLETELY relate to that. I enjoy being single for the time being, so I’m not upset over spending Valentine’s Day alone. However, I realize that in the future I may reach a point where I no longer desire to be single, and that very few men will want to date me if I am still the size I am now (same size as you.)

      I’ve been the “fat friend” everyone invites along so they can look better. I’ve been the “funny” girl or the one with the “great personality” because I’m (as someone in my past so eloquently put it) too fat to get attention any other way, so I damn sure better have a great personality or some other positive characteristic. I’ve been laughed at, pointed at, and even MOO’ed at on these excursions. I’m perfectly aware of my size. The comments and snark of others doesn’t make me want to LOSE weight, it only deepens the emotional baggage that made me fat in the first place.

      So yeah, I’m bitter too. Not necessarily about the same things, but definitely bitter.

      1. “it only deepens the emotional baggage that made me fat in the first place.” – AMEN, Paula.

        Some people feel if they humiliate you it will motivate you, but that’s never been the case.

        In another vlog to get to the root of the fat, I’ll talk about how an abusive marriage actually had the opposite effect exactly for that reason.

      2. Oh yeah I get that, I know that lately Ive kinda been Dovey Downer, but Ive had some serious shit going on, and well the usually ever optimistic bisexual has sub-come to the pissed off bitter dyke not answering phone calls and telling everyone to fuck off. I am usually the one people come to for advice when their relationships falter (which always baffles the shit out of me, I mean come on, my last serious relationship was like four years ago, and that was with a moron who didnt tell me he was married until we had been fucking for 6 months. I know that I am a social worker and all that, but I dont ask them for free shit from their jobs so WTF?). I dole out advice, help them all through their rough patches, and normally, I am happy to help. Lately however, I have just been in a MAJOR funk and the weight that I just chalked up to being a part of who I am has been weighing in on my subconcious a bit more than my bathroom scales.

        I wish that we could stand up to the media, could demand that designers cater to our forms rather than demanding that we cater to their ideals of beauty. I look at the “old Lady” Clothes that the plus departments have in my area and I just want to scream” “I’m sexy too damnit!” but instead, I shop on ebay, and buy fabulous clothing from over priced boutiques and send my hard earned money to store in Britain where size is not so much of an issue and their designers have a clue when it comes to plus size fashion.

        I date both men and women, I like the Label of Lesbian with bisexual tendacies, but in all honesty even that is conforming to social norms. I feel that women are where my true heart lies, and the spiritual connection with them is so much more fulfilling, but at the moment I am living in Eastern KY, and let’s face it I get bored and take a male lover from time to time just to feel those arms around me and feel loved in some way. But that too is just as hollow as it sounds, because I am still searching for acceptance and even there I cant quite reach it. Sure, I may be good for a romp, but taking this plus size goddess home to mama is never on the agenda.
        Geevie Bb I truly didnt want to delve into such dark waters here, and please forgive me for using your vlog as a forum for my pent up frustrations. This just hit a note resonating in my soul at the moment, and my soapbox looked kinda lonely. lol

        We as human beings need to find that place within our souls that breeds acceptance and love and share that with all of those that we meet, it just gets hard sometimes when all of our efforts are met with validation from the size 4 camp, that we just dont belong in THEIR circles or stores.

  6. Hey, Ginger, I loved this blog. I have never had to deal with that since school, even though I know it’s out there I just turn a blind I to it. I’m curtious to other people but other wise I ignore them. I have a great family that kept me going and I had great friends that would smack some people around if they upset me while in school. Plus I have a good back bone too and wont take any crap from no one, and I’m really sweet to everyone. I didn’t have too many problems in school. After school I learned that guys wouldn’t date me, but I put that to my ‘tude rather then to the way I look. After having my heart broken by a guy I use to have a chip on my shoulder when I dealt with men. One thing that did hurt my feelings a lot and gave me really tough skin was when I was young my best friend Kyle told me a harsh truth, which I asked him to do and you know what they say about careful what you wish for. I had asked him to tell me truthfully why guys only liked me as a friend and never as a girlfriend, he looked at me like he was upset he had to tell me but was willy to say it because I asked and said ‘It’s because your big’. It hurt my feelings more then what anybody else had said, but it also gave me a thick skin, I think in a way it also started the chip that I use to on my shoulder about me. I love him for telling me that because I think in a lot of ways it kept me from seeing the disgust, because I always turned a blind eye to people if they weren’t important to me. That is so out of time line and prob. doesn’t make much since to you, told you my ADD get the best of me. Loved it loved it loved it. Keep it up sweetheart

    1. The ironic part of what your friend says is that maybe that’s true for some guys, but it’s not true for all. I generally got every guy I ever wanted (except maybe for Steve Perry), big or not. It’ll be the subject of my next vlog I think.

  7. You’re right. I’ve never had trouble getting guys whether I’m a size 6 or size 12 (I’m only 5’2″ so a 12 is not a healthy size for me).

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not physically attracted to fat men. Right or wrong, good or bad, I’m not generally attracted to big men. However, if I dated or was committed to a man and they happened to gain weight, I wouldn’t leave them or no longer be attracted to them. I’m going to be attracted to whoever I’m attracted to regardless of what I weigh. What bothers me is when some big men and women refuse to date other big men or women and even judge them. That’s just wrong.

    And I don’t think everyone who is a size 4 is unhealthy and needs a good meal. I know healthy people who are a size 4 and look good.

    1. I’ve never used weight as factor in attractiveness for men or for women. I’ve dated people my size or who had some extra weight – what’s more important to me is how they treat me and how they treat others. That sounds cliched but it’s true. If there’s a great looking guy who is an ass, I won’t find him good looking. In fact I’ll see him as ugly, because ugly is as ugly does IMO.

      And I think that is probably the byproduct of being the “fat girl”. If a guy was sweet to me instead of dismissing me because of my size, I would always, always be more attracted to that.

      And here’s the kicker… good looking men tend to be nicer to big women than ugly men. When I used to hide my size behind the internet I’d get the attention of all these guys who wanted to promise me the world because they thought I was “hot”. As soon as I “came out” as the fat girl – they’d be gone in a flash.

      Finally I started being honest about being a BBW and I was stunned by how many guys – good looking, movie star looking – men were suddenly interested. This was in Los Angeles no less. It was amazing.

      Of course some of these guys wanted me to fulfill some weird dominatrix fantasies… but that’s another issue altogether. 😡

  8. Yes, ugly men tend not to be attracted to big girls because they want someone who’s a thin trophy. They want to be able to show off a thin girl to their friends, show off that they can get a hot girl.

    For me looks do matter to an extent because if I’m not physically attracted, my eye wanders. I don’t want to sound judgmental or mean, just know what my type is and know from experience that if I date someone just based on substance, I quickly lose interest.

    You also have to watch out for feeders who have no regard for you or your physical health. These are guys who would be gone if you lost weight and got thin. They’re just the other end of the spectrum.

    1. That problem is more prevalent in the BBW-chubby chaser arena, men who are physically attracted to women *because* of their being big… which kinda wigs me out to be honest.

      It’s a fetish and that has nothing to do with being attracted to another person as much as it is to that one thing. That’s why feeders exist, because they want the woman big for their own sexual gratification.

      The men I ran into weren’t like that, thank goodness.

      Mostly, I think the reason I attract men has more to do with being smart, being funny, being unafraid of sexuality… those kinds of things more than my size.

      Unless of course you count my cleavage… but that too is another topic all together hahaha

      1. Oh you hit the nail right there. People tell me “Oh there are entire internet communities of men who LOVE big women!” As though I should JUMP at the chance. EW! But if I were to turn the tables and suggest that thin women find someone who wants them based on their body type they’d think I’m insane!

        A man who desires an overweight woman just for her body is no different from a man who desires a thin woman just for her body. If all he’s interested in is the way I look, I don’t want him. I have a lot to offer a man; I’m an intelligent, witty, thoughtful, compassionate, talented woman. If all you see is my body, whether it is a turn-on or a turn-off, then pardon my language but fuck off.

        When I was interested in dating, I never had a problem finding men willing to date me. I was overweight then as well, although not nearly to the extent that I am now. When I am in a relationship I have a tendency to lose myself in the intimacy of the other party. I think I’m probably *past* that point in my growth, but I don’t know that I trust myself enough to find out. And frankly, the weight keeps the whole thing at a distance so that I never have to find out. It’s a wall of protection that makes me essentially unapproachable for most people, and I feel safe here. Unfortunately I’m also killing myself in the process, and now I’m unsure of how to recover from it.

        So… how much is this counseling session costing me? LOL

  9. Hello! I thought I’d weigh in *ahem* on this subject because the topic of weight in regard to myself had me in tears today not once but twice. I however am on the opposite end of the spectrum. I am 5’2 and usually weigh around 104-106 pounds depending on the time of the month and if someone has pissed me off enough to eat a pound of chocolate. Since my car accident however I’ve had to take lots of pills that not only suppress my appetite but also make food taste like packing peanuts. Add to that the stress of a breakup and having to find a new home and you arrive at where I’m at today. Today was yet another neurology appointment for my vertigo. And of course, as every doctor does, they weigh you on a scale in the hallway in front of whomever is standing around. Today I weighed in at 94 pounds. I started to cry. I haven’t weighed that light since I was 16. 94 pounds is getting very close to the starting to have organ problems weight range. The nurses however took my crying to mean something else entirely. They assumed I have an eating disorder and that I thought that I was fat. So I got lectures and that look from my doctor that she “knows” that I’m doing something bad. It was humiliating and frightening and not good for my self esteem.
    That was followed a few hours later by a visit from my best friend. She’s pregnant and was feeling “fat” so she wanted to stop by for a hug. I told her about my day and this is what she responded. “You know, I’ve always thought it was funny how you can loose weight from your boobs and your body but your thighs are still fat. *pokes my thigh* But you could totally get one of those 1930’s bathing suits and no one would know and you’d be retro hot.” She was being sincere. After that she left and I closed the door and just cried. Not only am I being told that I’m dangerously thin I’m also being told that I’m too fat for a normal bathing suit. In the same day.
    The moral? There is no right size to be other than healthy. And no matter what size you are people are going to make you feel guilty and ashamed if you let them. But I choose not to let them anymore. I’m going to work to get my weight back up and if my insanely gross fat thighs take over small cities in the process then people are gonna get squished. I have never had body image issues that I found myself. They’ve always come from boyfriends or friends or family that thought I need implants or lypo or better abs or …or…or
    But I’m not doing that anymore. I’m going to weigh what ever number means I feel healthy and able to be active and energetic and I’m going to wait until I can find someone to love whatever shape that is.
    We live in a size-est society. It works on both ends of the spectrum. From strangers on the street to people that you love. But building a community of support like you’re doing here is a great way to break through all of that and get to the weight we really need to be at. The weight of our souls filled with joy and happiness for life and love for each other and ourselves.
    Rant done! Thanks for posting this Geevie! I needed to read your blog today! 🙂 x

    1. Shelley, I can relate to what you’re saying. I’ve been on both ends (underweight and overweight) and both are equally difficult. One of my favorite authors, Augusten Burroughs, described it as just opposite sides of the spectrum. When you’re overweight, you’ve got people judging you for your size. When you’re underweight, you’ve got people judging you for your size, assuming you have an eating disorder, etc. It’s like we can’t win. But I don’t care. I’m going to get healthier and look better.:)

    2. Thanks for contributing to the discussion! 🙂 It’s sad that you had those two differing messages in the same day. Our society is f*cked. It’s time we pull the cord on the chatterbox that has been regurgitating the same messages we’ve heard from other people all our lives until we believe it ourselves.

      Because it’s not true… and we need to stop judging each other (for good or ill) based on something so superficial and temporary as our physical bodies.

  10. LOL!!! You girls are too much. I’m more like Geevie looks are merely a plus to personality, a guy can be ‘unattractive’ to most, but if he’s sweet to me he’s the bomb. And if he’s mean he goes down in my ‘I don’t think so’ pile. I have only had sex with one man before and it was not a good experience for various reasons. I am bi but I tend to lean more towards women, I know women can be just has judgmental as men, but the women I know tend to be a little more accepting then men. And I have been with two women. So you girls are up on me in the sex department most men don’t want to deal with a piratically virgin girl and I only just lost my virginity for my 27th birthday. My first kiss was when I was 18.

    1. I think women as a whole are a lot more emotionally stimulated than men. Which is why you’re going to find more pretty women and ugly men than the reverse. Even in the gay community, homosexual men face way more pressure to conform to a certain look than homosexual women.

      (From what I can tell anyway, I’ve never been a lesbian so I can’t speak to that from experience.)

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