I wasn't sure I'd have the time to answer these along with everyone else, so this will sit in my drafts until I've answered all of them.
How do you feel when other women around you complain about feeling/being fat?
It depends on how I'm feeling that day. Some days it makes its way inside my head and I think "If they're fat, what am I????" but most of the time I laugh it off. Fat isn't an emotion, it can't be felt. If they're feeling bloated, that is different, or over full, again, different. I don't feel fat, I AM fat.
How has your body image changed since high school? College?
I was probably a busty size 18-20 at school, and up to a 22 by the time I left for university. I hid in baggy t shirts and combat pants, feeling ashamed. I'd often binge eat in an attempt get some to control on the situation. By the time I left uni though, I was down to a size 16, but I felt I was much much bigger, and still needed to hide away in dark colours. When my condition REALLY flared up, around the age of 21, I went up to a size 22 in about 3 years. I started binging again in an attempt to control something about myself. Once I got the pain under control, and got some direction, my eating relaxed again. It's something I'm aware of, and I know I need to watch for in future.
Have you tried dieting? What happened?
Under pressure from my parents at 18, I tried the Atkins diet for about 4 weeks. It didn't last at all. I've tried strict calorie diets, and the like, but nothing worked for me - or I'd end up bigger than I was to start with.
Do you think in your case your weight is partly or entirely genetic?
I don't think it is. I think for the most part, it is down my state of mind, rather than anything genetic. I always thought I was a large kid, but looking back at pictures, I wasn't. It was all just perception.
Do you consider yourself healthy? Have there been instances where people assumed you were unhealthy?
I think strangers probably think that, but very few have verbally stated that. I have a pain condition, but that is due to a mistake made by the NHS, not my size, so Doctors don't usually mention it when I have to go in to see them. I have a healthy mind, and a good outlook at the moment. Yes, I could do with being a little more active, but if you spend all day on your feet, or running between offices, running Brownie meetings, you're less inclined to then do more when you finally get home.
Are your parents both supportive of you at the weight you're at? Have they always been?
When a new fad comes into their lives, like Atkins, or the Hairy Bikers, they do try to suggest / force me to try things. Now I just respond with 'I'm happy as I am'. But it has been an issue in the past between us, yes.
How do you think retailers can improve clothes for plus-size people?
I'd like more shops. I want to be able to go shopping with my friends and try things on in store. Or just on my high street so I can FEEL the material. The one thing I hate is cheap feeling fabrics. They make you hot and sweat - and I hate that image of the fattie sweating - it's one thing I'm rather paranoid about.
Do you think plus-size women are judged differently than plus-sized men are? How?
I think women in general are judged more than men. On our looks, what we wear, how we act. So think this is a non-question.
Do you think there’s an assumption made/stereotype that exists about plus-size people? How would you respond to it?
I think we're seen as lazy, as though we do nothing other than sit and eat and watch TV. I have a great career, in a sector I LOVE. I run a Brownie pack, I sing in a choir, I help the community. But I'm still judged on my image, and my size.
I also hate the idea I'm a fetish, or a 'Real' person because I have boobs and a bum. And don't get me started on the idea of fetishising fats.
Do you think there’s ever a right way or time to express concern about someone’s weight?
Only if I start the conversation (which I won't). Or I ask your advice (which I won't). Or I want a recipe for some weight loss miracle tea (which I won't).
What are the worst things people have said to you about your body?
I'll be honest, I've blanked most of them out. I don't want to remember what people called me at school - and my last name garnered more than it's fair share of comments (it's pronounced Cowpa(t)... Imagine! And no, there is no t at the end of my name).
How did you respond?
A lot of the time, I used to ignore things shouted, or implied. Now I politely challenge them!
What have people said (or do you wish they’d say) that would compliment your body or appearance?
Working in a large office for such a long time (over 5 years now), means that I've known some of these people for a very long time. And so they've seen me change in terms of fashion, and acceptance. So a new outfit (or combination) will illicit at least one or two comments from people.
One thing that I know people will think is a compliment is 'It makes you look slimmer', or 'Have you lost weight'. I really don't take well to these types of comments, but I get that most of the time they're said out of kindness.
Do you find yourself hanging out with women who are closer to your size?
Not really. I think in real life, I'm possibly the largest in the office, and certainly in my friendship circle. Not that it bothers me though. In the virtual world though, my social circle has some amazing women in it, of all shapes and sizes. I wish I could live there sometimes, just to be near all their amazingness.
How has your weight affected your sex life, if at all?
Yes, mainly because I've let it affect it. I have a block in my head that I'm slowing dissolving, where I think I must be the 'pity shag' or the hidden girlfriend, due to the stigma attached to being a plus size cutie!
When you've been single, has your weight affected your dating life?
I'm the chronically single friend - my longest relationship is about 5 months when I was 21 (my first in many ways), but I felt it wouldn't work due to distance, and being the fat girlfriend.
I always used to question "Why are they with me?", and "Why do they like me?" and I think I sabotaged a couple of chances due to my own issues with my size.
I think online sites have helped though. Posting realistic, full length selfies mean I know they know I'm bigger than most before we start chatting, and my new found confidence also means I'm less likely to accept being hidden away.
Do you feel weird if the guy you’re with only dates larger women?
No, I don't. They have a type and stick with it. I maybe would have done in the past, but certainly not any more.
Do you feel weird if he's only dated slimmer women before you?
No, again, I don't. Attraction isn't about types, it's about the person. Again, age and confidence now means I'm happy to accept myself, and others who may be interested!
I hope you'll check out the others who are also going to be answering these questions:
I really enjoyed answering these, and hope you enjoyed reading my waffle!
Much love my lovelies,