Dating while fat

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Trigger warning: Conversation around body image/body trauma 

Dating has always seemed so impossible. I had this idea that the huge and complex realm of intimacy was not for me; it was simply too large of a galaxy to navigate so I closed myself to it for years. This was also tied with the feeling that I always felt like having sex and doing other intimate things were based on some kind of social timer. A timer where the hands are made up of other people’s sexual encounter stories and where the numbers are all the things that I didn’t do. All the things I chose not to do. And this timer, charged by the expectations of what I should be doing, rang when I got asked, “have you ever….?” or “when was your first….?” For a long time, I never even viewed my body as something that could attract another person. I deemed myself unlovable from a very young age and that seeped into how I viewed my body in a sexual light. 

This feeling was not only because I didn’t have all of these interesting sex stories, but it was also rooted in a poor relationship with my fatness. I had cemented this idea into my habitual thought pattern that my fatness was the ultimate blockade in me being loved. In me being deemed attractive. In me being viewed as a sexual being. I viewed my love handles and thick thighs not as beautiful aspects of my body, but rather attributes that scraped and dug into my self-worth. I saw my big arms and chunky stomach not as my body’s own formulated and self-constructed art pieces, but as flaws that were embellished with the comments of my past; light and airy comments that floated to my ears innocently yet once they passed my eardrums and found its way to my heart, and eventually fading away into nothingness, chunks, and pieces of my worth went with it. Comments about my body sat on the tongues of those around me for as long as I can recall, coating the inside of their mouths and throats. It constructed their teeth and allowed their jawbones to move smoothly, with ease. All while I was simultaneously being broken down until the comments they made about me became owned by myself and my brain. This is why dating is so difficult.

I constantly wonder if I was skinnier, would it be easier? Or if my skin was lighter. Or if this was bigger. Or if that was just a bit smaller. Over the pandemic, with many hours in therapy, I began to let go of the demeaning comments and self-sabotaging questions that I had hugged and welcomed for almost all of my young life. I nurtured them and watered their roots with my tears for fear of wondering who I was without them. I had to learn to let them go and to deny them nutrients so they can die without me. As I’ve healed, and continue to do so, I’ve grown tired of playing the “I wonder” game when it comes to dating and my body and I have begun playing the “this is me, and this is my body and if there is a problem, I suggest you reflect” game. I’m over feeling as though I must change my body and my fatness to appease other people’s shallow forms of beauty. The real problem is our societal standards. Not me or how my body looks. No longer will I lean into the comments of my past but continue to reject them. And in their place, I will transfuse my body and spirit with the love and tenderness that I’ve been denying them for far too long.

And to younger Mustafa, thank you for being so strong. I got it from here.

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Mustafa Hall
Mustafa '23 is planning on majoring in Sociology with a double minor in Africana Studies and Creative Writing. While he's the editor for the Op/Ed section for The Muhlenberg Weekly, he's also an advocate for marginalized communities, specifically for queer communities and communities of color. He's also a lover of poetry and plans on going into a career of journalism post-college.

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