What It's Like To Be The 'Fat One' In Your Friendship Group
The Debrief: 'Sometimes I feel like I might be a worse person than my friends. I take up more room, look a bit different in Instagram pics, and that makes me feel like I’m killing everybody’s vibe'
Statistically, I know I’m not fat. The fact I’m a bit short, take a size 12 or 14 in most shops and have big tits – 32G if we’re counting - means that I look a bit matronly. That should be it. Numbers that help me find things that fit my body so I don’t have to go to work naked, but somehow it becomes more complicated. Especially when I’m with my friends.
The very idea that we’re supposed to have a 'relationship' with our bodies and say things like 'I love my bum' makes me shudder. Guys, if you do this, I’m very happy that your self-love is an archipelago of positivity in the middle of the Bad Body Vibes Sea, but please don’t tell me about it. Surely the ideal we’re all aiming for amiable indifference, not being competitive or thinking about our bodies too much.
But I am, and I do.
And it’s all because I’m a dress size or two bigger than my close friends. I have a gang of tall, slim friends and it makes me feel like south London’s answer to Gemma Collins. It’s pretty ridiculous, but it sometimes makes me feel as though I might even be a worse person than my friends. I take up more room, look a bit different in Instagram pics, and that makes me feel like I’m killing everybody’s vibe.
I only realised how true this was when watching the video for Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood. In the opinion-dividing ‘Kick-Ass’ style video, a load of Victoria’s Secret models fight each other while wearing bondage gear.
Lena Dunham has a small role, but instead of getting properly involved, whoever had the sorry task of 'storyboarding' the video stuck her on a balcony, in an enormous coat, sucking on a cigar. It would be a pointless cameo if it wasn’t so poignant. All it reminded me of was how often I put my own body into exile because I hate the thought of it being compared to my friends’. In winter it’s alright, but then summer swings around to remind me that I look so weird next to them in a bikini that I want to bring my massive Barbour to the beach.
I don’t think you’re only allowed to be beautiful if you’re thin, and, like I said earlier, it doesn’t matter and we all need to get over ourselves. I don’t judge other women for being fat, I never really notice it. But next to my friends, all my good thoughts and intentions change.
Catching sight of a group of us in a mirror makes me genuinely sad. I’ll be wearing a baggy black Cos dress and they’ll be in spray-on trousers and it makes me feel somehow guilty. So many times they’ve tried to lend me their clothes and I’ve gamely climbed into them and acted surprised when the distance between two sides of the zip is as wide as the M4 and had to laugh and go ‘Oh it won’t do up ha-ha-ha-ha’ and then sit down and be a bit quiet for a bit.
And I’ll use this quiet time to reflect on how much I hate my body, and come to the conclusion that I need to be the same size as my friends even if just to make it less socially awkward and wonder why I ate all those crisps. I’ll dwell on the nagging feeling that I’m the 'before' picture when I’m standing next to my leggy mates, and that it would just make things tick along a bit more smoothly during the pre-lash if I could borrow a dress and get on with downing my wine without my poor friends having to go: ‘Noooo, it’s just because you’re curvy, and anyway you’ve got such great boobs’.
I’ll think about the times I’ve insisted on wearing a huge jumper even though it’s July, yelping that I’m actually a bit chilly if anything despite the fact that I’m crimson and visibly sweating through wool.
Or the times I’ve cringed at a photograph because I just don’t look the same as the women I love so much and I’m letting the side down.
Beyond ‘stop being so bloody melodramatic’, I don’t know what the answer is. But I do think it would help if I didn’t see my friends as a matching gang. It might also do to remind myself that if being thin really did mean that much to me I wouldn’t be eating chips as I type. I haven’t figured out the answer yet. But for fat friends, the struggle to accept ourselves – chub-rub and all - is real.
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