the f word

de5696cd4fac8788d7cb61902ebb421cit is, i imagine, very easy to be a single man in new york city. even if you’re nothing special yourself, you have the pick of the litter, due to the sheer number of single women with biological clocks sitting like ticking time bombs at the bottom of their stomachs walking the streets. when you see one you like, you pepper her with a few compliments. then you sleep with her, and after you leave in the morning, you never call her again. and you don’t even feel sad about that. it’s not a missed connection. it was sex, nothing more, nothing less.

it is decidedly harder to be a single woman in new york. the competition is fierce. most of the good guys are either gay or taken. if they’re neither, there’s a high probability that there’s something holding them back. they don’t believe in marriage. they don’t want to get married ’til they’re forty. they’re holding out for the one (so long as the one is 25 and a gisele bundchen lookalike). or, they’re just enjoying sleeping around, and don’t see any reason to change.

for this reason, even the most gorgeous, likable, funny, interesting girls turn to online dating. i don’t claim myself to be any of the above (in fact, i’d be more likely to rank myself as slightly funny, definitely at least 50% crazy, but a damn good cook), but i too have dipped my toe into online dating. i’ve had an okcupid profile for years; i’ve only gone on about 4 dates, most of which, while not disastrous, were just plain terrible. i’ve done the monthlong trial of match.com multiple times, only to be disappointed by the results. there’s only so many awkward first dates a girl can go on before she’d rather shoot herself in the foot than set foot inside another east village institution with a guy who thinks an interest in popular culture is “infantile.”

there’s also only so many bad dates a girl can go on before she starts to wonder: is it me? i’ve been having a serious “is it me?” moment lately, as all my close girlfriends, save for one or two, are engaged or in serious relationships. i look around me, and i see giant smiles and bear hugs and spots kept warm on the couch, and i think to myself, “what am i doing wrong that i don’t have this?”

lucky for me, there are plenty of internet assholes out there to remind me of what i’m doing wrong. lest you think it might be one of the not so favorable attributes i listed above, here’s what i’m doing wrong: i’m fat.

that’s right, i said it. the f word. in a world where thin means smart, powerful, interesting, and most importantly, valuable, fat means the opposite. it means lazy, stupid, uninteresting, unattractive. it means a lot of uns, really, including unwanted.

recently, my roommate introduced me to a new app where her friend had met the guy she was dating. it was called tinder, and it was “so cool!” it paired you with other people on facebook, and all you had to do was click like or dislike. i should have known that the app, which is a glorified version of “hot or not” would not be good for my psyche. but stupidly, i went along with it. i tapped my likes and dislikes out on my phone. i checked my tinder messages before i went to bed at night. i even went on a date (with, for the record, a guy who, after spending an entire weekend serenading me via text message, proceeded to take me to drinks and then never call me again). i ignored the gross messages, “are you horny?” (at 7am? really? i’m on my way to work). i blocked the people who told me their penis size (like i really needed to know that, and no, i am not impressed). i even allowed myself to take my hopes off the shelf when i messaged with guys that were surprisingly cute and surprisingly normal.

until i got brought back down to my reality: the reality of fat. yesterday, while walking home from the bakery where i’d stopped to pick up cupcakes for a coworker’s birthday, i checked my tinder messages. and one read, “you ate too many carbs this weekend.”

and i stopped dead in my tracks in the middle of first avenue and read it again. and i scolded myself for the tears that were welling up in my eyes and glanced down at the cupcake bag in my hand and then around me. could he see me? how did he know i was carrying cupcakes? they weren’t even for ME, goddammit! and if he really needed to know, i ate sushi on friday, and a salad on saturday, and watermelon and a bagel on sunday. i only see carbs in there ONCE, you asshole.

and as i stood there analyzing the size of my thighs and envisioning them bubbling up and expanding until my shorts couldn’t contain them anymore, shoved into the fabric like sausages, i remembered a message i’d once received on okcupid. it read, “sit ups. u should do them.”

and i wanted to cry all over again. because here’s the thing about being fat. it never leaves you. every single thing you do as a fat person reminds you that you are a fat person. when i walk down the street, i think to myself, ‘are people looking at me and thinking, why is she wearing that?’ i cringe when i see photos of myself next to average-sized people. i wonder if the girls in my bar method class stare at my form in the mirror and wonder what the hell i’m doing there. i think about my weight at least 85% of my life. it’s the shadow the trudges along next to me, no matter how little i eat, or how healthy i eat. no matter how many times a week i exercise (for the record, it’s 6). no matter what i wear or what people tell me. fat never leaves me. it’s a dog tag around my neck, a weight that i drag behind me like a prisoner.

of course, i have some days where i look in the mirror, and genuinely think i look pretty. never thin, of course, or beautiful, but sometimes, pretty. but then i get a comment like the one above, and the cycle starts all over again.

i deleted the tinder app from my phone on the spot. standing there with the sunshine beating down on the beach burnt skin of my legs, the cupcakes melting into the bag, my iPhone asked me to confirm if i wanted to delete all the data along with the app? yes, i did. because tinder is bad for my heart, and my soul. and i’m ashamed to admit that some disgusting part of me sincerely believes that if i were thin, tinder would be a legitimate goldmine for my love life – that i would be showered with dates and that life would be positively peachy keen.

this is seriously demented reasoning, and rationally, i know it’s not the case. but it’s hard to hear the f word, you know? even on your good days, it’s a hard pill to swallow. and while i want to believe, in my heart of hearts, that someday, someone will love me because i am loyal to a fault, and because i give good advice, and because i love fiercely with every bone i have in my body – and not because i am thin. and not because i am fat, either. just because i am me, and because that me is worth something.

but in the meantime, i think it’s probably best that i stay away from online dating. because i don’t need to deal with internet bullies reminding me of the things i already know. and if i want to eat the damn carbs, i am going to eat the damn carbs. and i DO do sit ups. lots of them, every day, in my bar method class. and i’ll be damned if i’m going to let an anonymous asshole get the best of me.

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