“You probably shouldn’t call yourself ‘an amazon’ in your profile,” he messages me.
“Oh, really? And why is that?” I respond. After all, at a smooth and stacked 5 feet 10 inches—with a penchant for heels—I find that most men I match with online aren’t even at my eye level, let alone taller. I figure it’s best to brief them on this possibility upfront.
“Well, it might lead men to believe that you’re … bigger,” he replies.
“Hmm. Interesting. Well, I do make my living as a plus model, so … ”
Yeah. He swiped right on the wrong one today.
Now, I can see how he might’ve missed that fact, despite my array of pictures—which, yes, included a recent body shot. As a tall, proportioned and fairly fit size 12 with both dangerous curves and a rapier wit, I consider myself quite well-rounded—mentally and physically. But the fact is, by most conventional standards, I am indeed “bigger” than your average woman. And I’m fine with that.
Yet, here I am, being advised by a perfect stranger on how to describe myself.
And I’m not alone. A casual poll of some of my fellow “thick snacks” revealed that the online dating arena is rife with critics, trolls, outright body-shamers and otherwise decent and well-meaning guys who reveal themselves to be deeply “fat-phobic.” Sadly, we’ve all had at least one not-so-body-positive exchange online, not to mention on actual dates. You know, because we love a side of body-shaming with our steak.
People, it is 2016. As I write this, my home girl Ashley Graham is killing the game as the first plus-size woman ever to land a cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, and Ebony has blessed its March cover with a bevy of beautiful, buxom and bomb-ass brown celebs.
Hallelujah. Thick is finally in.
Now, before you argue that black men have always embraced bigger bodies (mostly true, and thank you), I’m sorry to inform you that our men can be as guilty of body-shaming as any others (and ladies, we have to stop body-shaming ourselves, too). It needs to stop—now—because it’s not OK. It’s never OK. Here’s why:
1. Because it’s just an opinion—and nobody asked for it.
OK, sir, so you like your women petite and pick-up-able? You’re entitled to that—and good luck with it. But that doesn’t make me—or any other woman—somehow inferior for not being your type. Who made you the arbiter of all that is deemed beautiful?
I can tell you from firsthand experience that the plus-size industry is booming, not only because of the many women in the world who happen to be over a size 10, but also because of many, many men who like their women that way. But if it’s not for you, that’s fine, too. Repeat after me: If you don’t like, don’t swipe right.
2. Because it’s not “constructive criticism,” it’s cruel.
To all you men who think women don’t know the difference between “thick” and “fat”: Trust me, we do. We spend far more time with our naked bodies than you could ever hope to, and know every jiggly bit, stretch mark and sag. You’re not telling us anything we don’t already know, and if you wouldn’t say it in person, then you’re a coward for saying it behind a keyboard. And if insulting women is your idea of a good time, you’re officially a misogynist in need of a hobby. Do better.
And girlfriends, if or when you continue to engage with men who critique you this way, you’re encouraging it. Cease and desist. Block. Delete.