Blogger and freelance journalist Stephanie Yeboah is no stranger to the difficulties of navigating life as a plus-sized woman. A large part of her work is promoting self-acceptance and self-love, and she has shared her own journey toward those ideals on Instagram.
Stephanie recently shared a story on Refinery29 of how her attempts at getting back into dating led to a betrayal that made her question her decision. Having spent two years single after the end of her previous relationship, Stephanie decided to get back into the dating game.
She was hesitant, cautious even, but thought she had found someone worth taking a chance for.
She says she had
"...gone into every new dating app chat with a degree of scepticism [sic] (especially as I am plus-size – more on this later), however Robert seemed different. He was funny, very intelligent, open-minded and ambitious and more importantly, accepted and preferred the fact that I am plus-size."
"It seems a bit silly to have to declare something as trivial as one's weight on an app, but due to how a large percentage of plus-size women are treated in the dating world, some of us choose to add a note about our weight to our profiles, almost as some kind of 'disclaimer'. It's even worse when your weight intersects with something such as race or gender."
Stephanie and Robert's (her date's name was changed to maintain privacy) chats had been going well, so they decided to meet up for their first date.
Stephanie even grabbed an excited/terrified pre-date selfie and shared to Twitter:
"Robert arrived and the date began. We had a great time during the three or so hours we spent together – we laughed, we exchanged hilarious date-fail stories, we spoke about our families, likes and dislikes…just normal date stuff, you know?... At the end of the night, we kissed and he said he wanted to see me again."
This is where things start to go downhill.
Stephanie was starting to feel confident after the success of their first date, so she decided to meet up with him again.
"A week later, and hours of speaking on the phone and texting throughout the night, we decided that he'd come over to my flat and we'd watch a few shows while I cooked (I know, I know, rookie mistake; like I said, I'm a dating newbie). Obviously, one thing led to another and we ended up sleeping together."
"That was the last time I heard from him."
Some may be thinking that this isn't that shocking; he must have just been looking for a hookup. People get ghosted all the time, right?
Unfortunately, his motivations weren't that benign.
"Cut to this week when I receive an email from a friend of his. Apparently, Robert had shown my blog to his friends for 'approval'. This friend tells me that in the interests of full transparency, he thought he should let me know that the reason I had not heard from Robert since our second date was because he had been dared to 'pull a fat chick' and – upon completing the dare – had won a sum of money his friends had pooled."
"I felt sick. A wave of embarrassment and humiliation washed over me, and I went into my bathroom and cried. I had been terrified of meeting and talking to men for fear of them judging my appearance. As much as I know that I am an awesome person, I'm blindingly aware that the way I look is not what mainstream society considers to be 'beautiful', and that's something I always have to think about and carry with me."
What happened to Stephanie isn't an isolated incident, either. It is not uncommon for groups of guys to dare each other to try to sleep with someone they deem unattractive to gain social status within their group. This is only one of the many ways that plus-size women face a distinct disadvantage in life.
Overweight people (especially women) face discrimination in the workplace as well, often being passed up for promotions or customer-facing positions because of bias. Bias in the medical community also plays a devastating role in plus-sized women's lives; the cure for any symptom is often "lose weight," even when a patient's weight is completely unrelated.
After sharing her story on Twitter, Yeboah faced a ridiculous amount of backlash that largely proved her point. Many of the worst attack tweets have since been removed because they violated Twitter's policy on targeted harassment, but their effect remains.
A few people missed the point of Stephanie's article completely.
Some users shared similar experiences.
Fortunately, there was also an overwhelming amount of support for Stephanie and her choice to share her story.
Yeboah's article was meant to raise awareness of the issues bigger women face in life, and the disparity in the way they are treated. She has faced much backlash for sharing her story, but her goal was accomplished: people are talking about it. Now we just have to wait and see how productive that conversation is.