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Do You Believe in the Big Girl Code? | Manolo for the Big Girl

Do You Believe in the Big Girl Code?

Do you expect a level of solidarity from fellow big girls?

I realize this might be more for the size 18 and above than our inbetweenies but ever since the big girl scowled and slumped her way through our service at the Russian museum and restaurant (which, if you’ll recall, was not Russian, a museum nor a restaurant) it’s been tickling the back of my mind.

Of course one grumpy swallow does not a bitchy summer make.

Maybe she’d had a bad day or was just a generally unpleasant person. It can’t possibly be that she didn’t like ME. I’m totally likable until you get to know me. Still, I’ve come to realize I expect a little something extra in the way of friendliness or conversation when a fellow fatty crosses my path.

On one hand I sort of know that’s unreasonable. I don’t expect a thing from my fellow tall or pale girls. On the other, I do slightly expect –and receive– the silent shoe-check of appreciation from other divinely-shod members of society.

I’m always a bit chummier with a big girl, as if we’re both members of some sorority, Alpha Gamma Thigh Chafe or something and I always always go out of my way to be nice to chubby kids.

It’s not that I have an unnatural desire to be Auntie Mame (I totally do) or even that I like children all that much, but because despite personally having a relatively easy time of it at school teasing-wise, I know how much the constant comments from well-meaning –or more appropriately,”well-meaning”– family members can wear on a person’s young Play Doh-like soul.

It can mess a girl up.

I remember the It Gets Better campaign that resonated so deeply with the gay community and wish someone had taken me aside and told me it was even possible to have a rewarding job, loving friend, an enviable sense of self, a million pretty shoes and Get The Guy all while being what is medically referred to as a “fatty fatty two-by-four”.

Not guaranteed, nothing in life is guaranteed except for death and the fact that some guy will bang on your window trying to sell you a lace tablecloth, a giant glittery Betty Boop dressed up as the Virgin of Guadalupe (and if THAT doesn’t illustrate the infamous and widespread Madonna/Whore dichotomy, I don’t know what does), a ceramic turtle AND some churros while you’re waiting to cross the border back into the United States, just possible.

So what do you think? Is it reasonable to expect the club handshake from a big-boned sister or is this just one of many examples of Miss Plumcake spending too much time in the South where almost everyone is a friendly as a demented golden retriever (I’m not saying we’re nicer, but charm counts, especially in concealed weapon states)?

27 Responses to “Do You Believe in the Big Girl Code?”

  1. MrsBug March 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    A small sister here with a thought: She was TOTALLY jealous of you having HLB.

  2. Blaceyda March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    Just like you, I totally believe in the big girl code. I sometimes get it with tall people, and have shared many a bonding moment over the inevitable jokes about the weather and requests for reaching etc. I have moments with fellow pale skinned people, bemoaning the lack of suitable cosmetics etc. (yes, I know that people with darker skin have had (and possibly continue to have) a frustrating experience at the cosmetics counter, but being tall and pale are different to being fat. As idiotic and unjust as it is, those two attributes have been considered by many societies as positive attributes. Being fat- especially on the larger end of the scale (pardon the pun)- is different because it so often has negative connotations. So, I frequently expect solidarity, sympathy and understanding from fellow fatties, but get confused when it doesn’t manifest. I wonder if it is because so many of our fellow fatties are still entrenched in the culture of dieting, fat hate, fat shame, self loathing? When I see a fellow fat girl in the plus size section, I see a potential friend who understands my experiences, who I could go shopping with etc. But maybe she sees me as a very real reminder that she is in the plus size section, and maybe that makes her unhappy. Maybe she isn’t in the same place as I am in terms of accepting and embracing my body and my size. Maybe she is looking for clothing to cover up her body, rather than to celebrate it. Maybe when she sees me, she sees herself reflected back, and is not yet in a place to even begin liking what she sees.
    I think this because I know it took me a long time to even identify as fat. I always thought of myself as a thin girl in a fat body, that one day I would be thin (& rich, & fashionable etc). I didn’t want to identify with fat people, because I wasn’t like “them” – I was different, I was going to lose weight, blah blah blah. It wasn’t until I engaged in the radical practise of self acceptance that I could begin to identify with other fat people. I have to accept the sad fact that although I want to live the big girl code, some people aren’t ready to accept that they are big. And you just can’t tell. That girl in the dressing room I complimented on her dress? She was happy and confident not because she loved herself the way she was, but as she told me, she lost 20lbs, and “you can do it too!”
    I’m beginning to think I can only live the big girl code with fat people who are accepting and embracing themselves, but then how to find them? It’s easy on the internet, but real life is different. In my experience, asking someone if they know about/engage in fat acceptance, fatshion etc., risks (a) offending them (b) them laughing at you or (c) being offered diet tips and/or being told that “you have such a pretty face! don’t give up!” Finding an ‘out’ fattie to befriend IRL is difficult in my experience – probably due to the culture of the place I live.
    One thing is springing to mind as I write this – when my younger brother came out as a teenager, and was accepted by friends and family, he suddenly became ‘super gay’ – his phrasing. He felt that he had to show the world that he was ‘gay and ok’ – his phrasing again. He became much more camp, wore more flamboyant clothing, even his voice became louder. It was just a phase, and he says it came down to the contrast between hiding his true self before he came out, and finding his true self afterwards.
    I wonder if big girls need to have a similar phase: something that announces to the world that we are just fine with being big, a signal to other self accepting big girls. We can’t rely on body size alone to mark whether we identify with each other. Intellectually I know this, but I still get disappointed when fellow fat girls don’t meet my eye in the plus size section, or when I don’t receive back the solidarity I try to convey to other people my size.

  3. Allison March 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I practice it for sure. I was playing around on some implicit association tests (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/) that concluded I have a slight automatic preference for fat people!

    Solidarity

  4. Kat March 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Maybe she was having a really bad day?
    Maybe she wanted a HLB of her own?
    Who knows what’s behind another’s frown…

    She clearly was not seeing the true you.

  5. Evilsciencechick March 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    The south? Nicer? Really? Where the passive aggressive phrase “Well, bless your/her/his heart” came from?

    Maybe Atlanta doesn’t count, but when I moved here from the north, it was a very jarring experience, as far as the lack of “niceness” from the general population.

  6. Liz March 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    @Blaceyda:

    Maybe some fat women don’t base their entire identity on their size?

    I truly believe in being good to people, but I prefer to have more in common with my friends than a vaguely similar dress size. I also have moments when I prefer to be alone and, to be blunt, you see kind of needy and like you’d just throw yourself at a fellow fattie.

    Not everything is because of pathologies. Not everything is because of Teh Fat.

  7. Bethany March 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    I guess it’s like how pregnant women want to be friends with other pregnant women. Even before they start talking, they know they already have one thing in common. It’s easier to talk to someone if you know you have something in common. I’m also extra nice to chubby kids. I want an It Gets Better campaign for kids that are bullied because of their weight.

  8. Sarah H March 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    I do the same thing, although I also expect my fellow tall girls to be chummier. It also offends me more when a fat girl isn’t nice than a skinny girl, I think because of the expected camaraderie. Of course, that would presume that she is comfortable with identifying as a fat girl, and I’ve found that many, many women are uncomfortable with acknowledging that we have “fatness” in common. Oh well. Tall girls are much easier to commiserate with, I’ve found. They’re generally less tortured. And if they ARE tortured, at least you can spot them easily… they slump.

  9. Jezebella March 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Bethany, whatever you do, don’t suggest that Dan Savage get behind an “It Gets Better” for chubby kids. He’s a fatty-hater of the first water.

    Evilsciencechick, yes, Southerners are, on the surface, “nicer” than yankees. It doesn’t mean we’re sincere about it, we’re just more polite. I get that some people hate the insincerity of Southern behavior, but I’d rather deal with fake-friendly than honestly shitty, myself.

    Miss P., I was about to say, yes, of course I am extra-chummy with fellow fatties, but then you mentioned the Southern thing, and I am, so. But here’s an example: I was at lunch today and the waitress admired my chunky new ring. Since she was a fellow chub, I told her I bought it at Lane Bryant. I would never have told a skinny girl that for fear of getting the “ew she shops at the fat lady store” response.

  10. barbara March 21, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    I think as a rule I’m more inclined to go the extra mile for someone with whom I identify. That might be weight, but it also might be a browncoat t-shirt, an LL bean backpack, or just an american accent while we’re both overseas. It isn’t all about the weight!

    Which is a tl;dr way of wondering if her issue wasn’t you being an american. I’ve had that happen in central america. Not often, but sometimes fairly blatantly.

  11. Susan March 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    I am more inclined to compliment a fellow fattie’s outfit/shoes/hair/jewelry, simply because I love it SO much when I receive those kinds of compliments myself — also because I acknowledge how much more work it can be for those outside the “normal” size range (in any direction) to put together something stylish.

    There was a time when I didn’t bother putting a speck of work into my appearance because who cares? I’m fat! I thought that overwhelmed all other visual concerns. Now that I’m out of that self-loathing phase, I just /notice/ more often when fellow fat folks are willing to let their fashion flags fly.

    So — huh. I don’t expect extra chumminess from the similarly plump, but I do try to offer it myself.

  12. Molly Ren March 21, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    “a giant glittery Betty Boop dressed up as the Virgin of Guadalupe”

    I know this is all srs bizniz, but I have to know: DID YOU BUY IT? And if you didn’t, why on earth not? :O

  13. Mallory March 21, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    Just so ya know, I’m an inbetweenie and I’m TOTALLY a member of Alpha Gamma Thigh Chafe. :)

  14. TeleriB March 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    It’s never occurred to me that there’s a “big girl club” of which I am a member, and among whom a code of sisterly affection should prevail.

    I run in geek circles, where big girls are common. Maybe if I lived/worked among mostly slender women, I would feel differently? Don’t know.

  15. RHCD March 22, 2012 at 1:01 am #

    On the street I wouldn’t say i’m nicer because really i do try to be nice to everyone. Now if its someone I work with/interact with on a regular basis I’m much more chummy. A coworker recently complimented on my outfit and I pointed her to the elloqui (limited new line) with the comment ‘another option for career wear for us not size 10 (we’re both size 22ish?).

    In fact I do have to keep my judgmental self in check especially with those of us who imho (wrong) “just aren’t trying.” mostly that’s in professional settings…

  16. teteatete March 22, 2012 at 1:03 am #

    I work with several fat girls and I myself am an in-betweenie (used to be much larger but after an injury that would never heal, I lost a bit of weight). When I was bigger, the girls were standoffish. They’re even MORE standoffish now. I think it comes down to an acceptance issue. But, Plumcake, in your particular case I think it’s a jealousy/culture/theNERVEofthisAmerican rather than Teh Fatz. You, in all your fabulousness in HER country “stealing” one of the hotties that perhaps she feels she can’t obtain? You might have been displaying every one of her insecurities and she just couldn’t handle it.

    I admit that I am of the camp that is not completely fat-accepting (please no flaming until I’ve finished. Thank you :P). I was Not Ok at my largest because it put terrible strain on an injury I had and I just didn’t feel well. I fear that /some/ elements of fat acceptance are actually excuses. If one is living a healthy lifestyle AND they are fat that is very, very different. But if one is mired in poor health but at the same time wants to just accept the fat, I have a problem with that. I am a believer in health at every size rather than a blanket “fat is ok!” My two cents as a longtime reader and admirer.

  17. Josie March 22, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    Am woefully bereft of fat girl friends, it’s just me in a sea of skinny, so although I do love a bit of fat girl solidarity and automatically assume we have something of a shared thing, I also am not used to being in public with another fatty, and if it happens, I kind of feel weird about it. Like, I always assume no one notices that I’m fat, but another fat girl with me might make it obvious.

    Also, is this bad? I often give a good hard look at similar fatty’s attendant boy creatures. In a kind of ‘look what you could have won’ way. I don’t believe for a sec that men ever ‘overlook’ a physical attribute that they really dislike, cos the gal in question is just THAT funny. I assume they like the fatties. So he could at some point have been a hypothetical bf. Wrong?

  18. Josie March 22, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    Re my above comment, this might be why the girl was a big mooder – snazzy Plummy with her texas twang pinching hot latin boys that love the fatties. It seems like it would be a small market, but I’m from the middle of england so know very little about fat girlfriend seeking HLBs.

  19. Josie March 22, 2012 at 6:06 am #

    Re my above comment, maybe this is why the girl was a big mooder – snazzy Plummy with her texas twang stealing fat loving HLBs. It seems to me (from middle England, never actually met a mexican, how weird is that?!) that it might not be a massive pot, but I might know nothing.

  20. Talbot March 22, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    I remembered when I first moved into plus size-at first, just in pants. After trying–hopelessly–to buy shorts in regular sizes, I went in the plus size department, where I found loads of things that fit. That, in itself, was wonderful.

    But what also struck me was the total lack of anybody, especially salespeople, saying “You’re tiny” or “that makes you look tiny.”

    Tiny is the ultimate accolade of the non-plus world. Beyond “not fat” it means “competitively non-fat.” Because that’s a heavy part of non-plus land. Competition, not just with other women, but with yourself.

    And the ladies in plus land, in that first venture, were also great. Somebody wearing a size evening gown would be told she looked great, if she did. Not tiny. Great.

    That is how I see my plus sisters. As Great. That is how I approach them, with the same spirit of non-competitive, non-tiny greatness I felt that first day in Liz Claiborne 14W shorts.

    We owe it to ourselves and each other to remember that we are not competing, we are supporting.

  21. Thea March 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    There are all sorts of ‘clubs’ and one may supercede another depending on the person and circumstance.

    When I lived in a predominantly black section of Oakland, people would always hear my Southern accent and say “Oh, you’re from HOME” with a big smile, followed by an extra helping of grits. This freaked out my yankee boss to no end since he had unflattering and inaccurate preconceived notions about all Southerners, black and white.

    When I would go to Cantor’s deli in L.A. with my boyfriend, he would get the stinkeye from old ladies for having the bad taste to date a blonde shiksa.

    You see a ‘chub club’, the woman at the restaurant may have just seen a gringa coming in with a HLB on a rainy day when she would rather be at home watching old black and white movies.

  22. Margie March 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    I would much rather have hobbies or personality in common than size in clothing. I agree that there is a sense of commonality with people of the same size, but that doesn’t really express what kind of a person they are or how nice they are. Since grade school, I have always been the largest of my friends. Within my family there are some members larger than me and some smaller than me. People like my personality because they compliment me on it all the time. I like that my smile and eyes are my greatest assets. Sure it’s nice to be complimented on my outfit here and there, but seriously, I put more effort into a great pair of shoes and melt with compliments on those! I honestly do not care what people think about my weight or height because I am ok with me! I will not go out of my way to befriend the fattest girl in the room- I will befriend the person who I can have a great conversation with. The girl in the room may look like my long lost twin, but she also may have the worst personality EVER! I don’t want that in my life. If I am a kind, gentle, accepting person filled with whit, charm, great one-liners, an amazing smile and perfect eyeliner, then I am being myself and people who care to be around me will seek me out. I do the same for others. I feel extra compassion for ALL those with whom I can relate to, whether it be because of size or loss of a loved one or inability to make sense of math or being made fun of for liking to eat most things in layers (Kit Kat bars, lasagna etc.). I have always known that I was made in God’s image, but since God is not a physical being, I have to assume that we are the same spirit because if God created me, God is in me. We as humans are like no other creature on earth because on we have been brought to life by God breathing life in us. Physical-ness is not important to me. But can I see God in your/my reflection?

  23. Margie March 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    And Miss Plumcake: Whether you may or may not have intended it to be so, you kind of came across a bit snooty. Like this waitress “owed” you something. Like there is a sense of “entitlement” on your part. I don’t think there is a “Big Girl Code” so much as a “Human Code”. You should treat her as you would anyone. And why are so many readers engulfed in why this waitress did not fall in love with you? You have no control over her feelings, actions or reactions. Be a good person and people with either like you or not. But who cares? The important thing is that you were a nice person. And leave it at that.

  24. dcsurfergirl March 22, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    A Big Girl Code Isn’t too feasible. Among my family and friends, I am the token big girl.

    Can’t we just be excellent to each other?

  25. Josie March 23, 2012 at 4:34 am #

    I don’t think there was a sense of entitlement, although to be honest, if I’m paying/tipping, I often feel entitled to be served by someone who at least pretends to be friendly.

  26. Christine March 23, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    It sounds to me that while you were seeing a big girl, she was seeing (and please don’t take offense) a loud, annoying, wealthy, American tourist. I’m sure you aren’t any of those things, but in my experience, a little thing like fat won’t overcome anti-American stereotypes.

  27. BrooklynShoeBabe March 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    I’m not rude and I generally think of myself as friendly, but I don’t go out of my way to be nice or friendly to other people just because they’re fat like me. I work with children and I like it. I do go out of my way to be extra friendly or pay extra attention to the kid or kids that stand out in a class (as in one of these things is not like the other) whether it be the one black kid (I’m black), the one fat kid, the one really tall girl, the kid with the eye patch, etc….