Early morning on December 31st, I was shopping at the grocery store picking out some fresh veggies, fruit, and some eggs to make my boyfriend and I breakfast. I get a text to come back to the hotel. That text was the beginning of the end. A couple of hours later, my eyes bloodshot red from crying, the radio cranked up to Selena’s “Como La Flor”, I was driving two and a half hours back home. I had been dumped hours before New Year’s Eve.
I had made the trip to go see my boyfriend out of town. I had packed some cookware to make him breakfast in our hotel. I took days deciding what dress to wear with the right shoes, jewelry, and hairstyle before my trip. I had spent time and money planning this important holiday getaway with the man I loved only to never see it come to fruition.
Now, breaking up on a birthday or holiday isn’t a unique experience. Countless horror stories about Valentine’s Day or anniversary breakups are out there for the world to read about. Just do a google search. But, what is unique about my horrifying experience was everything that led up to that breakup because I was dumped for being fat. I was dumped for my appearance. Here’s the twist. I am a self-proclaimed “Fat Babe”. I am a plus-size model and body positive advocate. So, how in the world did I end up with a fatphobic boyfriend?
In late 2017, I started dating my now ex-boyfriend. We met on a dating app for curvy/plus-size women and the men who love them. Sounds cliché, but I thought what the hell! I had been on other dating apps earlier that year and found that there were many men who were interested in me for…sex. There were many men who wanted to have sex with me because I was fat and confident, but not for dating. And, dating apps can be notorious hook-up hubs, so it was a huge let down when I ran into men with a fat fetish.
When I started my profile on this new app for curvy/plus-size women, it seemed promising. I thought to myself, “the men on here should know what they’re getting right?” I never pretended to be anyone else other than myself. I was honest about my body type, height, hair color, and posted several pictures of myself, some full body and some selfies.
I received a message from this really cute guy. From his description and pictures, I could tell he was tall, athletic, and had great style. His profile was different from the rest. He talked about how he was looking for serious dating to a relationship. He was 33, which was close to my age, 30, and how he was an avid reader and liked to write poetry. We started talking and every day I learned something new about him like he was a soccer coach, a single dad, and that he had interests in screenwriting. We had so many things in common that I thought this is too good to be true. Then, the questions about my body came after an exchange of pictures.
“How big is your tummy?” to “what kind of workouts do you do for your butt?” I immediately called him out. I asked him why that was relevant. I am a beautiful person inside and out, so how could that possibly matter? We went back and forth and he was clearly upset that I had a problem with his question. He felt entitled to this information. The conversation ended with a last message from him that he hated me for making him feel this way and that our demise was my fault. It made me feel terrible, and I didn’t message him. I thought to myself, “this is over and it sucks.” You invest so much time talking to someone and you feel crushed when things do not work out. Not only did they not work out, it was a blow to me as a plus-size woman. I took a chance to put myself out there on an app that felt safe for me because I am a fat. And, to encounter a man who judged me by my body size and shape felt all too familiar.
I stopped interacting on the app with other guys, and I didn’t message my now ex. He waited four days before messaging me. He talked about how much he liked me and how let down he was that I did not reach out to him first. We talked for about an hour and decided to continue talking. The problem with that conversation is that while we reconciled after a heated argument, our talk did not address the biggest issue. He still had a problem with me being fat.
Fast forward two and a half months later, I found myself facing the ugly truth. My boyfriend was dumping me because I could not be what he wanted me to be. Throughout our long-distance relationship, he made comments about my hair style, fashion choices, and even devalued my thoughts and opinions.
I cried. I got angry. I even tried being his friend in hopes that we would get back together. I brought myself down so low that I had no place to go but up. I decided that part of my healing process required something that I could physically do to channel my emotions in a positive way. And, the answer was right there. I am a plus-size model. I take pictures often for many reasons, and I was going to prove to myself that all the “flaws” he pointed out about me were beautiful and part of my identity.
On our first date, I wore one of my favorite Selena tees with some black leggings, cute black booties, and hoop earrings. After spending a weekend together and returning home, he messaged me. He pointed out the fact that he didn’t like what I wore on our first date. He said my Selena tee was not sexy enough and that I looked more like I was going to the store versus a date. He proceeded to tell me that, in the future, he expected me to only wear these shirts at home or to the grocery store.
I love Selena! She is one of the most iconic Latino figures in the world, and I’ve been dancing and singing to her songs since I was a little girl. Selena Quintanilla-Pérez changed the way many Tejanas like myself envisioned themselves in the world. My love for her is part of my identity. Her music, style, and entrepreneurial spirit have influenced the woman I am today. And, I think Selena and her fans would agree that you can rock your Selena tee anywhere you go and look damn good!
And, my now ex, wasn’t done with his list of criticisms. Next was my shoe choice. Since he had seen pictures of my modeling portfolio, he expected me to look exactly like the woman in those pictures 24/7. No kidding. He had a problem with my boots. They weren’t sexy enough according to him. Well, what do you think now? These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they did when they walked all over you and out of your life. Boy bye!
Then, there were my glasses. On my second trip, I was expected to leave the glasses at home and wear contacts. And, like a docile girlfriend, I purchased a year’s worth of contact lenses after my eye exam. I hardly go anywhere without my glasses except for casting calls and photo shoots. I’ve been wearing them since I was a teenager and I think they are cute. They are a part of me.
My lovely hair was next on the list. He hated the fact that I wore my hair straight most of the time, which is my natural hair type. But, most of all, he loathed the bangs. He said they covered up my face too much, and he said, “You’re trying to be like Selena with those bangs. I want to see your beautiful face. I love you not Selena.” He made statements like these often, which is common for people who are passive-aggressive. He tried to convince me to change something about myself like my hair style, which I purposely chose because I loved it. He justified this by calling me beautiful and saying “I love you.” The problem with this statement is that he did not love me. When you love someone, you love them for who they are, as they stand, bangs and all. And, if Selena could rock them bangs like a boss babe then so can I.
And, of course, there was the issue with my weight. I remember a phone conversation where he told me that he wanted me to lose the weight to be “healthy” so that I could live a long life. What he failed to acknowledge was that I was already perfectly healthy at the size and weight I am. This was something I made him aware of because I do get my annual checkups. But, he persisted and I clearly remember him using the words, “you just need to tone up and get rid of the unwanted fat.” And, there it is, that word, “unwanted”. I was unwanted for being fat. I was unwanted for my sense of fashion and hair style. I was unwanted for my shoe selection. I was unwanted for speaking my mind. I was unwanted for just being me.
It is no wonder he dumped me. All the signs were there from the very beginning. And, I want to give a clear answer as to why a person like me, a body positive warrior, a plus-size model, could allow such blatant disrespect, but I cannot. Perhaps I was lonely. Maybe I was feeling the pressure of finding a partner to finally settle down, get married, and have kids, that I scarified my dignity in the process. Maybe it was because I had such a horrible year in dating that I wanted to cling onto anyone for comfort. What I do know is that I did not feel sexy, beautiful, or worthy when I was with him. I was not respected when I was with him. I did not respect myself when I was with him. And, recognizing these truths now made it very clear to me that I still have much work to do on my journey toward self-love and body acceptance. I allowed a man to wipe away three years of hard work to love myself in two months, and that is unacceptable. I hold him accountable and I hold myself accountable.
And, my hope is that my story helps someone else from continuing to be in an unhealthy relationship. I felt ashamed admitting that I was in this relationship because I am a pretty open book on social media. I post about body positive activism and self-love frequently. And, I consider myself an active member of a movement for fat acceptance. I felt like a hypocrite. And, this is me owning up to my poor choice, my wrong choice, in a partner. And, I want my story to reach men as well. The ridiculous expectations placed on women have consequences. They perpetuate gender roles; they can cause emotional and physical harm through eating disorders, suicide attempts, depression, and this is wrong.
I don’t think a photo shoot will fix everything. And, it will not completely heal me from this breakup. But, it’s a good start to show myself and show the world who I am as I stand.
Photographer: Tommy Kim