Ultimately everyone will have their own idea of how they want to be treated, so please take this as only the way I like my friendships to be. You know your friends better than anyone else, so you’ll know which of these will work and which won’t.
Make It Your Job To Know
I think it comes to knowing what someone wants out of a friendship and where you fit in on this. This really isn’t any different to any standard friendship. As someone you care about, I am sure you’ll want to know what you can do to be a good friend – this is not different when you are friends with a fat person. Ask them what you can do better and what they may need from you. Don’t shy away from the subject, but instead ask them anything you want to know
“You’re Not Fat, You’re Beautiful”
It took some of my friends a while to get used to me using the word fat so easily, and that’s OK – it took me a while to get there too. However, as a friend, you should be wary of erasing someone’s identity if they use the word fat and you refuse to. Remember, it is their body they are describing so they get to decide the words that are used to describe themselves. Respect them and go along with their decision – it probably took them a while to decide it too.
Don’t Make a Scene
Sometimes when we are out and about, strangers in the street will say something about my size or how I look. Whilst I am not saying this is OK, I will mostly ignore it. Generally making a scene makes things worse for me, so I would rather not let it affect me. If and when I choose to make an argument out of it, that is my decision. It is nice when loved ones want to stick up for us but it is not needed.
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I love my friends because they don’t deny me being fat and they also are prepared. I have told this story many times but once more won’t hurt. One of my best friends once asked me to be bridesmaid. She’s very thin and so are most of the people I knew she would ask to be in the bridal party. As such, as soon as she asked me I text back, thanking her but declining. I simply said that that a dress in my size would not be available in the other girls’ sizes and I didn’t want to be a burden. Turns out she had ALREADY looked into this and found someone who would make everyone’s dresses. She didn’t have to do that, but she did and to this day it means so much to me!
We all love social media and these days it is so easy to click a link and share interesting articles with our friends. It’s really important to remain aware of who can see what is shared and try to limit what you share to anything that isn’t damaging to others.
Ultimately it comes down to being a thoughtful, decent person – easy, right?
I asked some of my gal pals at She Might Be for their opinions on this topic and the huge variety in the answers proves that this is definitely something that everybody is going to have a different experience of. We would love to hear your thoughts!
Georgina and Sophie mentioned that the constant talk about diets and size can be really difficult to handle. Georgina went on to say “I remember conversations about food/weight making me feel really uncomfortable“, with Sophie adding “Talk about weight and food is almost constant in every social circle I’m in except this one“. This includes comments on portion sizes, and how fat you ‘feel’ having eaten something. Once more for the people in the back: fat is not a feeling!
Daisy agreed with the ‘don’t tell me I’m not fat‘ rule above, and also made it clear that she doesn’t want any comment on her clothing – “I actually don’t care whether YOU think something is flattering” – or her eating habits. Agreeing with Sophie and Georgina’s comment about diet speak, it was important to her to be able to avoid hearing whether you think a food choice is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Finally, she asked that you be respectful and do not make jokes which body shame in any way.
Shopping trips with straight sized friends and family was difficult for many members of the group. Sophie mentioned the feeling of dread she felt before shopping trips: there are no clothes that fit her, going to plus size stores are ‘extra hassle’ which causes her to feel guilty, and when thin friends try on their clothes and ask her if they are managing to hide various ‘flaws’ in their bodies it makes her feel incredibly uncomfortable. Katy elaborated on this, cringing at the mention of her straight sized friends telling her she COULD wear an item of clothing if it weren’t for her large chest, for example.
Emily simply asked that you acknowledge that she is bigger than you, sharing that at times she would be seated in the middle seat of a car or have to squeeze in around a table, because it was almost as if her family and friends were in denial about her size. Living in denial suggests that you are embarrassed, but consider how much more embarrassing it is for your fat friend who doesn’t fit in the seat next to you.
Finally, Kitty insisted that the use of ‘fat’ as a negative word needs to stop. This includes the use of the word to put yourself down, particularly when you are actually a thin person, and using the word as an insult towards others – it only makes your fat friend consider your true feelings about them.