A chapter from my book ‘My Big Fat Fat’ (2018)
A humorous and touching account for those losing or coping with excess weight. With her laugh-out-loud humor, Samantha Dee covers all subjects from beauticians to socks in this easy to read A to Z guide on weight loss, maintenance, and ways to nourish your self-esteem.
X is for X-Rated (Love, Sex and Dating)
‘Their eyes meet across the room…’
This tends to be the part I struggle with the most, being so overweight. I can clap eyes on someone (assuming I got out the door in the first place, see Bath Time*), but then the return look tends to be the, ‘Oh my god, fat bird, un-see, un-see!’
Which is fine. If I’m honest, what my eyes see is not what my heart wants, at all.
I find the whole ‘meeting’ someone to be incredibly contrived. These days, I’d rather eat glass, than ‘meet’ someone in a nightclub (which seems to be the only place for that kind of thing here in the UK). That’s not really the basis for a stable, true, and honest relationship is it? I never saw anyone past the night before.
That’s not to say I haven’t met someone in a nightclub and taken them home (stop giggling, Jules) in fact, I would do it (and them) all over again. It was good clean safe fun, and I encourage anyone to get on that. As long as you can be safe. All us girls knew exactly where the other was at any given time—we had each other’s backs there, and we always went home together.
I’m trying to recall a time when I was conscious about being fat while I went through my “casual”, nightclub sex phase. Granted, the drinks helped, but no, I was never bothered. I wasn’t ‘too overweight’ back in my twenties. I was wild, though, sheesh.
What I do remember, though, is that I was ‘the fat friend’, in one or two of those circumstances. I’d be the one holding the bags or guarding the drinks. But I got more than my fair share of spectacular shags.
One of the best was a guy that made me laugh like no other, and I find that spectacularly sexy. He wasn’t a ‘looker’ at all, (think Roger De Courcey), but he just had me laughing ‘til I cried or couldn’t breathe every time I met him. Well, I was a goner. He made me weak at the knees.
I always wonder, once I’ve met someone, whether their kiss is going to ruin it for me. If you can’t kiss right, I can’t. I won’t. But this guy was a phenomenal kisser. Holy cow, I felt it in my toes. Phew! Any self-image issues, gone.
What followed with ‘Roger De Courcey’ was the most surprising and memorable evening, night, morning and afternoon, ever. It was electric (God, I’m laughing while I type this). This guy literally ripped my knickers off. Honestly. I’ve still got them somewhere. He tore them off. It was legendary, and I’ll never forget it. Toe-curling, for sure. In those days, if you went home knicker-less with chin-burn (from kissing a man’s face so hard for so long), you know you had an epic night.
Anyway, he was engaged. So, I gave him chlamydia as a wedding gift (that was everywhere, in the nineties). Just kidding, although he did blame me for it, I remember. I was checked and clean. He apologised to me for announcing, “You gave me Chlamydia!” in my local pub. If the music hadn’t been so loud I’d never have gone back there. I wanted to accept his apology, but I just shook my head and walked away. The next day he was married, and that was the end of that.
After that was Brian, who had the most exotic tattoos, deepest brown eyes, and had a fat arse fetish. He was great fun. And my arse was fat. But he was a drunk. And married. And about to be shipped off to Iraq, or wherever they were deployed in those days.
In later years, as my self-esteem started to get in the way, I had a couple of ‘internet relationships’. I wasn’t really cat-fishing anyone, I was still physically social at that point. But one guy met me in a chat room and sent me poems every day for six months.
Jude, his name was. Told me he was a stock market trader in New York who was into ice hockey and good wine. I liked the whole mystery about it, and I was free to imagine that he looked like the guy in the painting ‘Like a Boss’ by Gabe Leonard. I’m sure he had a pre-conceived fantasy about me too (well, I know he did). Seventeen years on, I still have that sense of mystery when it comes to Jude, even though we haven’t emailed for four years or more. I have a very secret fantasy about meeting him. Entirely mapped out down to the shoes and lighting.
So, I never want to meet him. I want to keep ‘that‘. Reality is not where Jude and I belong. He’s married anyway. And I’m fat. I kept all our conversations, and I do read them occasionally; although, they have an unfortunate cringe-factor now. We were role-playing, after all.
The early 2000’s was when I really retreated into myself. I’d changed careers from being a sales rep, which I was amazing at, to an I.T Analyst.
All of a sudden I was in a world surrounded by I.T. geeks, who had questionable social skills. Unless you were fluent in Unix, there was no hope. Most of them had grown up in their mother’s garage, programming on their Spectrums, or whatever it was in those days.
Some of them would look at the floor if you came within three feet of them. Since they clearly hadn’t really had to deal with the whole female thing, they turned to their obnoxious selves, fat females even less.
I received a variety of negative reactions, which probably contributed to my ever-decreasing self-esteem.
The most common was talking over me, as if I was invisible. On one occasion, I encountered a man who had adamantly decided that, as I was fat and working in I.T, that I must be gay. And he said it often, in front of my colleagues.
Homosexuality is a complete non-issue as far as I am concerned. Human beings deserve to love whomever they love. Life’s too short for that shit. I, am heterosexual. It’s all just so absurd to me I don’t even know why that warrants a mention—only that my I.T. colleague’s remarks hurt me more than I’d care to admit. To the point that I had second-thoughts about changing careers right about then.
I digress. While going through this, I dabbled with (three) casual encounters with people I’d met online—far, far more dangerous than meeting someone in a nightclub. Again, I don’t really remember feeling self-conscious about my weight (more conscious about not being murdered). To them I think, it was just something to shag; I could have been a sheep for all they cared. How I didn’t have my throat slit during that time, I have no clue. Particularly after a “dirty” weekend with a rich guy who was older than my Dad. The whole situation was sad, ugly, and not one that lifts the spirit by any stretch of the imagination. So, you know, I stopped doing that, while I still had a tiny shred of self-respect left.
By then I think I was well into the ‘dark zone’ in terms of self-esteem. Weight was piling on because, financially, I was pretty loaded, earning between £200 and £500 a day with the I.T jobs. I wasn’t wealthy, but I certainly had more money than I knew what to do with. So, eating out or ordering in was not a financial concern.
I was also living in hotels from Monday through Friday, and so the hotels fed me. And fed me well. The cost was deductible, so even less concern about what I was ordering.
In 2003, I met someone online, and we had an intense video relationship. He was Mike, from Pensacola in Florida, and we spoke for hours every single day.
He was six feet two, all-american, lean, healthy, beautiful looking, perfect teeth, funny, intelligent, and spoke his mind and feelings. He could have been in movies.
Even working away, I could log on and get on video chat with him. I think I was definitely cat-fishing him by then; although, I told him every day that I was fat, he just used to say,
“You’re not fat.” (Fat women are very VERY clever when it comes to webcams).
He was just so beautiful that I fought him all the way. I resisted getting into a virtual relationship with him, but he absolutely chased me down and insisted that we could make it work. He was adamant and relentless. A couple of months in, on video chat, he looked right at the cam and told me,
“I love you.” (And it choked him up, it really did; it was an epiphany for him, too).
I didn’t say it back. I was fat and I was conning him, and I’d say so.
Still, he insisted and persevered. Eventually, I caved.
I felt loved, you see. And I think being fat with low self-esteem I was vulnerable for a moment. He’d say, “Okay, okay, you’re ‘fat’” (as if humouring me), “but let’s just pretend-like…”
He was giving me permission to pretend. He still didn’t believe I was fat, and I kept insisting I was. And he kept thinking I was joking. Over the years my negative self-doubts in this respect started to make him a little bit pissed off. He said it felt like I was making light of his feelings, as if I didn’t believe him.
This sounds absurd, but I was in a relationship with Mike for eight years. He WAS in my life and there was no one else, that whole time. (Well, once, early on, I shagged a stranger in a hotel and almost dislocated my hip, but it was just that once).
When I walked in my front door, he was (virtually) there waiting for me. I’d chat to him while doing my housework, we’d talk about our day, and we’d make plans. I mean, real plans. We’d laugh together, we’d cry together, we did everything together, we’d argue, fight, make up. We bought each other gifts, and we’d send each other money; we’d help each other when we needed it. I still believe, it was an honest-to-god relationship. Virtually.
I was so in love with this guy, I couldn’t imagine him not being in my life. Subconsciously, though, I felt I was “in deeper” than I’d be able to explain if I ever met him for real. That made me panic, and so my self-esteem was secretly evaporating, for all those years.
My faith in him was such that we both wanted a physical relationship. We were talking marriage and everything. So, we both “bit the bullet” and decided to get together for real, seven years after we’d met online.
In the run up to that, I’d had surgery to have a Gastric Band. Make of that what you will – you’d probably be right. Right around that time, I’d found his profile on a dating website. Horrified (absurdly). We fought; he said he needed a physical “relationship”, and so we decided to push onwards:
On the 20th October 2010 I flew out to Pensacola. I was terrified, but resigned. We both agreed that this whole situation was absurd, and we needed to get on with “it”. There was a nagging feeling against the pessimist in me, that it could really work and that I’d been panicking for no reason all these years because I was fat.
So, we both decided out loud,
“Eff-it—whatever happens, happens.”
I swear, right up until I got on that plane, I was telling him, “I’m fat.” Truly.
After eight or so hours I got off the plane and collected my bags. On the way out, I went into the bathroom.
No turning back now.
I freshened up. Took off my travel socks, re-applied deodorant, mascara, and lip gloss. Stopped hyperventilating.
Mike had already texted me, saying he was in a bar having a coke and burst into tears that he was so happy I was here finally. He was telling complete strangers in the bar about it.
I stood in the bathroom and considered the last seven years. I was about to find out if those two thousand, five hundred and fifty-five days had been real, or whether I’d wasted them. This could make or break me, literally.
One more “Eff-it,” and a last look in the mirror and I turned to leave. My stomach was doing triple-back-flips.
‘I’m not that fat, come on now—you’ve lost a load lately; it’ll be fine.‘
I remember turning a corner and there he was with a gift and a bunch of roses in hand, crying like a baby.
Then I burst into great wailing sobs, and we just held on to each other for a good five minutes. We just stood there and cried. We couldn’t let go of each other. Then we kissed and cried some more.
All the strangers around us were staring and saying, “Aww, that’s so sweet”, while walking by, or “Way to go!”. I felt like I was in a movie. This made us both cry more, until it was just funny.
As I’d been awake for twenty-two hours, I was delirious. I felt like I was floating in a dream. When we checked in at the hotel I’d booked, Mike said to the receptionist, “I’d like a key please, I’m her boyfriend.”
Mike never once gave off the vibe that he was even remotely disappointed. He absolutely wasn’t, it was real.
I immediately relaxed and was almost sad that I’d worried about it for seven years.
We explored the hotel and beach a bit, and I opened his completely unexpected gift: a first-edition kindle. He knew me, through and through.
That night, I showered, put pyjamas on and passed out. Mike slept on the floor out of respect. I thought it was sweet. I was so tired I don’t even remember going to sleep.
The entire trip was like floating in a daydream; it was perfect. We drove to New Orleans the next day and spent the night there, in my favourite place (I’d visited several times). I had booked a suite in the Ritz Carlton—because why not.
I took him to all my favourite haunts, and taught him how to make proper tea. Proper British style, not that American crap. Blasphemy.
You might wonder by now, what the sex was like…Thinking back, it was loving, and you know, he was very well equipped, with energy to match—he was a bit younger than me, after all. But I don’t remember there being any soul-wrenching tenderness really. In fact, sitting here now, it’s uncomfortable to think about. I think me being fat did hold me back a bit, and prevented me from doing certain things, in certain places. Although, I flat out laughed in his face when he asked me to take a shower with him.
“Mike,” I said, “I’m five feet tall, don’t be ridiculous.”
He laughed. “So? It’ll be fun.”
Oh, the imagery. I did love that about him, though. He was “game”.
On the last morning, we shagged for like three hours—I about passed out. When it came to leaving Mike and flying home, it was traumatic. We couldn’t let go of each other, and I about cried all the way home. I’d have stayed if it hadn’t made me illegal.
‘I’m crying so hard right now,’ he texted me,
‘You wore me out this morning,’ I replied.
‘Wanted to send you home right 😊,’ he said.
So, over the following months, we resumed our online thing. I think we were both getting increasingly frustrated with the situation. Whereas we’d made enthusiastic plans before, the plans I pushed for were definitely met with hesitance.
I made another trip out in April the following year: 2011. I rented an apartment that time. I remember the first night we walked into the apartment, I sat down, and he shifted up next to me. I burst into tears.
“I hope those are tears of happiness,” he said.
They were. But what I didn’t tell him was that they were also tears of hopelessness. Something in me knew that this was likely how things were going to stay. It just wasn’t going to work. I’d been right, after all, in all these years.
So, I was there for a week. We went grocery shopping together and all things related to “playing house” together. He went to work in the day. Pretending, again. It was great, again. But still, it wasn’t “going” anywhere.
And I left again.
Our relationship definitely cooled after that. Not for want of trying. But in actual fact, being fat wasn’t an issue at all. It was him. He was hesitant about following through, on decisions I wanted us to make, like who was going to live where and so on. The fat was absolutely never a “thing”.
Surprisingly, it was me that ended the relationship. On Christmas Day, 2011, no less. He hadn’t called or texted or video’d that entire day. So, everything that had been bubbling up in my mind made me roar.
We finally video-chatted, and I ended the relationship. I realised that I didn’t even like him anymore, and I said so. We were both crying. Who’d have thought, a fat girl rejecting a man. But reject him I did.
I needed to hear him say, out loud, “Goodbye Samantha.” And, as per my request, he did.
Then I clicked off the video call, deleted the history, un-installed the app, and un-plugged. Epic mic-drop on my part.
I was quite proud that I’d done it, and I was convinced that we’d have been going around in those same circles for another eight years if I hadn’t acted.
Within a month, he’d gone back to God (his parents were fervently religious—I am NOT—and they refused to acknowledge me as anything other than a harlot who had pulled their Son away from God). He got back together with his high school sweetheart even, married her in a Japanese garden (which is what we had planned), bought her kids a puppy (which is what we had planned), and taught her kids how to play video games (something we did together).
I was exhausted, drained, felt like I’d had eight years stolen from me—and had no inclination whatsoever about meeting anyone. Just wasn’t interested. In any kind of relationship with a man: virtual or not. Fat or no. That’s it, I’m done. Finito. The End.
Here we are in the present then. Just about. My darling bestie convinced me a couple of years ago to “get out there” again. I think everyone around me is “worried” about me becoming a dying spinster surrounded by cats. All except me, actually.
So, I relented. I put a profile up on POF.com and had the following dates:
- Heavy-set bearded hippie with a crocheted man-bag and an ancient tee-shirt he’d obviously scraped up off the floor that morning. No.
- Photographer who was repulsed by me and stared at his phone the whole meet, before making his excuses and running away.
- Bloke who still lived with his mum and looked like a short Mr. Bean with glasses. He said no to me, because I was “too successful.” Wait, what?
Screw you, buddy—I’m not apologising for that (or moving in with your sodding mother)
- Bloke who had three dates with me, we got on great, he was funny, easy to be around, didn’t seem to mind the fatness and, you know, shaggable. Never called me after that, his wife obviously returned from being out of town for a few days.
- Bloke who (never got a date from me, but) had a shirtless profile (ugh), and opened the conversation “Hey, babe.” (Ugh). On closer inspection I realised he was a fellow commuter on my train in the morning. He whistled tunes (which makes me want to commit murder) and had a weird-shaped head. No.
End of that phase, for sure.
I’d always thought that these dating websites are way worse than nightclubs, most of the men on it were looking for a supermodel, despite all being ‘not all that’ themselves.
I know what you’re thinking, you’re absolutely right, it’s that old saying isn’t it:
A real person should love you for who you are, not what you look like.
Really? Honestly? That saying is like nails down a chalkboard for me. To prove this saying entirely wrong, I did a little experiment.
I joined a dating site (The Telegraph one, if you’re interested).
I wrote a bright intelligent witty profile and I put a full-length picture of myself right up there, overweight, roly-poly (although very well turned-out, I have to say). For each week I ticked a variety of boxes and changed my photograph. Here are the results:
- Ticked ‘Full-figured’ Photo: Full-length – No profile views. No messages.
- Ticked ‘A few extra pounds’ Photo: Full-Length – A few views, one message. Asking me to buy him a profile. Sod off.
- Ticked ‘A few extra pounds’ Photo: Face only – Several views, no messages.
- Ticked ‘Curvy’ Photo: Face only – Forty-two views, four messages.
This puts me in mind of a quote from a movie I once heard:
‘Don’t you think a woman has more to offer than the way she’s dressed?‘
‘Of course, but men are such visual creatures, darling, so it’s a good place to start.’(W.E., Directed by the incomparable Madonna Ciccone.)
I’m fat, I’m single, and I’m not spending another single ounce of energy to find a man who is just going to take up space in a life that has no room for him.
I’m also probably never shagging again either. I’m completely fine with that. I could write a book about my sexual escapades. Been there, seen it, done it, got the medal for it.
In any case, menopause has changed me to the point that if Gerard Butler showed up at my door, naked and in the rain, I’d slam the door in his face.
Okay, maybe I’d get a towel.
* See Also: Bath Time