For a while in college I told people (namely, my gal pals) that “my type” of guy was big and broad. I would say that I liked a man with a little meat on his bones, that I’d prefer a linebacker type. But it wasn’t really true. I’ve always liked ’em skinny. Tall and skinny and preferably tattooed. Of course that isn’t to say that I’ve never been and never will be attracted to a guy that isn’t skinny – handsome comes in all shapes and sizes. But I told people that I liked bigger guys because I thought I should. Because – get this – as a bigger girl, I didn’t think I deserved a skinny guy.
I’m just going to say that again because when I realized what I was doing and why I was lying it kind of blew my mind a little bit. I didn’t think I deserved a skinny guy. Which meant that for some reason (entertainment industry, culture, supermodels, the usual culprits of the warped sense of self) I thought that skinny people were worth more than fat people. I thought somewhere deep inside of me, because surely I never would’ve voiced this thinking out loud and it is only now looking back years later that I can even recognize what was going on, that skinny people were worth more than fat people and so I couldn’t ever date a skinny guy because skinny guys were inherently worth more than I was and I didn’t deserve to be with someone who was skinnier than I was.
It sounds ridiculous right? It better. Because it’s a load of garbage.
I’ve been fortunate to never really go through a hating the way I look phase. My own physical appearance has just never meant that much to me (my fashion motto is “comfort trumps all”), so I never could muster up the energy to hate the way I look. I remember rocking bikinis in high school even with a gut and back fat and not really thinking twice about it. I just liked being in my bathing suit because that usually meant I was going to a pool party. But even me, who managed to hold onto a fairly healthy self esteem through high school and college, thought that a skinny guy deserved better than me.
I watched the show Glee back when it was newish and I’ve recently picked it back up again. There’s a lot to like about Glee in my opinion. Blaine is just adorable, Puck is a babe, Sue’s insults are creatively hilarious, the songs are fun, and I eat up all that teenage romance with a spoon. (Seriously. Have you read any of my flash fiction? I love teenage romance.)
My all time favorite Glee couple (and there are a lot of them!) is Puck and Lauren. Lauren joins the Glee club after Matt (is that his name? Mark? the black football player who never has any lines) transfers. Puck, no longer deemed “cool” by his football teammates because of his glee club membership, is locked in a port-a-potty for a day and Lauren is the one who finds him. She’s a female wrestler. She’s a badass. She oozes self confidence. She tells Puck that she’ll let him out of the port-a-potty if he’ll give her seven minutes in heaven. Then she walks out after only three minutes because she isn’t impressed with his moves.
Oh yeah, and she’s fat.
Puck is like the ultimate bad boy hottie. He has a rocking bod, a handsome face, plays the guitar, and sports a mohawk. And he falls head over heels for Lauren Zizes. And at first she couldn’t care less. She makes him woo her, win her over, chase her. And he does! And they date for almost a whole season. Which is like an eternity in Glee relationships.
Puck and Lauren’s relationship is super important. Because I’m willing to bet I’m not the only girl in America who believed for a time that I didn’t deserve a skinny guy because my weight made me somehow less than. Puck and Lauren (and Schmidt and Elizabeth) are important because our weight doesn’t define our worth. Because you can be fat and have a hot boyfriend! Because you can be fat and hot. Because I can be fat and have a hot boyfriend and because I am fat and hot.
Somehow I let the lie that my worth is someone directly tied to my weight sink down deep into my bones. I let that lie come out of my mouth in the form of other stupid lies about what I find attractive in a man. Lauren Zizes is important because she knows her worth. She knows, understands, and demonstrates, way down deep in her fictitious bones, that her worth is not determined by her weight or her looks or her hair or her clothes. She knows that she has value simply because she is.
I want to let that truth sink deep down into my bones. The truth that I have value, and a lot of it! just because I exist. Because I have a job to do on this earth – people to love and listen to, stories to create, children to teach. I have just as much value as anyone else. As I tell my students, “We are all the same amount of important.”
I am beautiful just because I am. I am worthy of a healthy relationship with a handsome guy of whatever shape or size. I have value just because I am. And that’s the truth.