The Life of a Thick Girl

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What exactly does it mean when you’re called ‘thick’? Apparently, a woman who is not slim, and not fat, but is curvy in all the right places.

While others think it’s another term for calling you ‘fat’, being thick shouldn’t even be an issue in the West Indies.

Most West Indian men love their women with curves. In fact, I’ve dated gentlemen who have been quite upset that I’ve taken up the ‘bad habit’ of running as a sport. Afraid that I might lose my curves or something, they have begged me to stop on a number of occasions.

 

‘Most West Indian men love their women with curves’

 

But this is not another “I am woman hear me roar” article. I want to be honest about my life as a ‘thick’ girl.

I love being curvy, but I hate how people perceive curvy women. So I run. I exercise. I try to lose as much weight as possible, so I can hear someone describe me as the ‘slim chick’, instead of the ‘thick girl’.

Teased by relatives, and being called ‘fatty-fatty’ as an eight-year-old didn’t help my body image growing up. My older sister would pinch my legs or at least try to. My thighs were so firm, you couldn’t hold the skin long enough to give me a pinch, so she called me ‘buffalo skin’ for a while. I felt like something was wrong with me. Why was everyone else praised for being handsome or pretty, and I got the “she’s getting so big” remarks?

I grew up feeling more comfortable as a tomboy. I refused to wear dresses or skirts unless I had no choice, like for First Communion. It just felt better to be seen as ‘one of the boys’ than to stand out as the ‘big girl’ of the group.

Boys were mean sometimes. I’ve gotten called ‘mampee’ or heard comments such as “got milk?” It was humiliating sometimes, but I tried to brush it off, and pretend that the words didn’t hurt.

thickgirlAt 19, I was 155 pounds, a size 8-10 at 5’7″. I thought I was huge, but by the time I graduated from college, I weighed 213 pounds – size 18. For about a year after that, I was in a tailspin of depression. All my thin friends remained thin, and I gained more weight. I felt like I had failed some test or competition. What I would give for that size 8-10 body now. I eventually took control of my weight, and lost 40 pounds in eight months returning to my teen size.

 

‘I grew up feeling more comfortable as a tomboy’

 

I was a thick girl who was dying for a skinny girl’s life. I wanted to throw on a pair of shorts, run to the nearby grocery, and not worry if my thighs rubbed together. I’d kill for the cute dress in the popular high-end store, but I don’t want to look like the ‘delusional fat girl’ who wandered into the wrong store.

I get giddy when I buy something and it fits. No one who is slim sees what we struggle with.

The stereotypes are annoying. For instance, as a thick girl, my chest is prominent and I get attention from everyone. From the wealthy businessman to the vagrant on the street, I get stares and comments of all kinds.

I’m their sexual fantasy woman, with my small waist, big hips, thighs and breasts for days. I look like I want sex 24 hours a day. And so I am approached in such a disrespectful manner.

Another stereotype is that I am not very bright. How one’s body type makes them smarter or dumber is beyond me. I once went to church in a dress that showed no cleavage, and reached mid-calf, and the cut was simply fitted to my body. A fellow sister asked me not to wear it again because it revealed too much of my shape. So unless I wear a dashiki or a moo-moo, I’m too sexy for church?

I just feel judged at all times. Being thick means I am too sexy, too tall, too conspicuous, too attention grabbing.

So yes, while I love my curves, I will admit that sometimes I want to be seen more for my work, heart, and personality than for my body.

 

‘I want to be seen more for my work, heart, and personality than for my body’

 

Okay. So now you know that I’m human. I hurt like anybody else.

Still, there are things I love about being a thick girl. While a slim or average sized girl can buy an outfit and just wear it, I am almost forced to become creative with my outfits. I’ve gone from funky New York Gothic girl to Punk Rock meets Marilyn Monroe. I play with tops that have tons of Lycra to play up my curves and I layer my look with colour and texture. I simply won’t wait for the fashion world to catch up to me, so I create my own look.

When I embraced my inner thick girl, I began to love the attention I got. Men would simply praise me as I walked down the street. I have even been proposed to! It’s amazing sometimes to see how different the reactions can be.

I think that the attention I hated as a child will always exist, but I just didn’t know how to use it to my advantage. Now, I appreciate my God-given curves and work it. I eat well, and exercise, not to look skinny, but to be healthy, and keep my body in shape -the shape God intended me to be, thick.

 

 

Author bio: Karen ‘Phoenix’ Francisco is many things – a writer, singer, songwriter, actress, filmmaker, image consultant, and motivational speaker. Back in Trinidad since leaving New York City where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Film Production and Screenwriting at Brooklyn College, you can always find her at any popular karaoke/open mic, singing her butt off.

 

Illustration by James Hackett. Read more about him here and check out more of his work at www.shizzies.com

 

Karen Francisco

Karen 'Phoenix' Francisco is many things. A writer, singer, songwriter, actress, filmmaker, image consultant, and motivational speaker. Back in Trinidad since leaving New York City where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Film Production and Screenwriting at Brooklyn College, you can always find her at any popular karaoke/open mic, singing her butt off.

30 Comments

  1. Foluso

    July 8, 2010 at 4:01 am

    Hey I thot u were sexy when u were in BC, u just never gave me any time.

  2. Aisha De Bique

    July 8, 2010 at 5:14 am

    Your frankness is both inspiring and refreshing.Very few women can look at themselves in a mirror without flinching-far less write a critique of their body issues.As women we’ve made a hobby out of berating ourselves.Could you imagine if as young girls we had read empowering pieces like this?We would have been spared years of self defeating,sabotaging behaviour!Still-many women need to hear this.THANK YOU.THANK YOU.THANK YOU!

  3. Karen Francisco

    kfrancisco

    July 8, 2010 at 5:19 am

    What a lot of people don’t realize is the judging looks some of us thick girls get from store clerks, I’ve even been told that I shouldn’t bother trying on the clothes “You know you’ll have to buy it when it tears right?” I’ve had sals clerks give me a dress and when I would go to try they’d practically hold their breathe praying I won’t rip the clothes! That’s does a number on a person’s psyche…
    Like the guy who said I never gave him any time. I never thought of myself as ‘valuable’. I completely identified my self-esteem with the size of my waist.and how the general Media portrays thick girls ( the kwirky sidekick bestfriend who had a weight problem and was horny all the time)
    In my thirties I started to realize I had to create my value– and that was empowering. It meant I had the power to build me or break me and no one else had that power over me anymore. I choose to create my own form of beauty, for me, it’s a balanced life of love, health and adventure.
    Anyone who thinks that I shouldn’t be a model or wear sexy clothes or can be the star in a play or film can kiss my thick ass!

  4. Lita

    July 8, 2010 at 5:20 am

    I totally identified with this, especially with regards to the misconceptions about our sex drive and intelligence. Its unfortunate when people are unable to get past our physical long enough to realize what beautiful and intelligent creatures are before them.

    Thank you for sharing this journey.

  5. gina

    August 2, 2010 at 5:41 am

    i can totally identify with this. when i was in form 1 at a prestigous school i was asked by my teacher whether or not i was having sex. she came to this conclusion simply because i had wide hips. at that tender age the furthest thing from my mind was sex. that experience however removed all innocence from me as i observed how i was being perceived by men. added to this, i am a dougla and for some reason there is this perception that douglas are great in bed. throughout my college years it was very trying to find young men who were interested in me as a person as opposed to me as a sexual being.

    today, i am still trying to embrace my ‘thickness’ but it is hard for me to believe men when they show interest because i am always doubting whether it is me or my body they are after….

    Thank you for this article…i no longer feel alone!

  6. krystal

    November 16, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I’m 13 Years old and ive been thru alot of horrible stuff. I stress and have many disoders im bi polar and depressed. I lost my mom and my dad and all my siblings. I way 300ibs about. and im 5’11 I hate it im in8th grade and im always getting teased. I always try to diet but it never works. ive tryed throwing up after i eat. ive tried not eating. ive tried runnying 2 miles Evey wendsday. Nothing works and its killing me and making me depressed my dream is to atleast way 130ibs :( i cant seem to lose pounds everytime i tell myself “im not gonna eat to day” i give in. food is like my best friend my mother it makes me happy its been comfort with me since i was 3. someone please give me some addvice.. email me at: krystalrc97@live.com

  7. shanelle samuel

    July 20, 2011 at 4:06 am

    i now start to read outlish and im impressed at all the journals (if that is what it is) and my eyes glance at this journal and im very impressed about it.. thank you karen for it.. u motivate me more.. im not ashame of my self as being a thick girl also.. it have advantages and also disadvantages like some u have mentioned but i by pass that and accept me for who i am and people do too although it have some who would be negative.. thanks again karen!

  8. Citizen concerned about the public health of T&T

    July 21, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Us women should really try to work on finding other aspects of our being to define our self worth. Thick, slim, obese, underweight, normal weight, long hair, shot hair, kinky hair, fine/thin hair, smooth skin, acne-prone skin…whatever and however you want to define it…a large percentage of women have some type of hang-up about themselves and most do not openly admit this. Some women might be surprised to find out that even many so-public called ‘beautiful celebrity women’ don’t like or even hate their own bodies even though they are celebrated in the media. Media often labels some women fat, even though they are clinically normal weight. These labels are what I call ‘fashion fads’ and they do not define health nor does it define a human being’s value and worth. Now to Krystal and other girls or women experiencing issues like Krystal (ie. minor or severe eating disorders), please know that you should definitely seek professional help from both a Registered Dietitian and a clinical psycologist. These professionals can even be found working in T&T’s hospitals and local community health centres, so please ask your personal doctor to refer you to such services since if you remain untreated, and continue to engage in hazardous eating patterns you can have very serious consequences for your health as you go from teenager to adulthood.

  9. Karin_Marie

    October 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    It really made me smile to see I’m not the only one trying to learn to love myself and my curves

  10. Sterling

    February 8, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    I love thick women, though.

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