Dating can be a real b*tch sometimes when you’re a big girl. There’s always that nagging voice at the back of your head creating all these ugly, negative thoughts — asking if you’re datable enough, if a guy would even find anything attractive about you, or if a guy would find you just someone to bed or actually someone to have a relationship with.
Back in college, I had this neighbor who proposed a project where I had to explore the online dating scene in the Philippines. It was a night of October in 2015, and I just registered for accounts on Tinder, Okcupid and Happn. At the time, I was just socializing. My favorite spiel is I’m just there to look around and do my research, I wasn’t actively looking for people to go on a date with and rather just friendship.
On the surface, I was convincing myself that that was the reason I was there. But underneath that, part of me actually is curious if the scene is kind to big girls like me. At this time, I was ridiculously insecure about myself. I knew that men from my country are not into my size. They prefer the typical Asian beauty — fair-skinned, cute small face, long silky hair and of course, petite or long slender body. Our media always sensationalize celebrities for being white and slim and put curvier girls on the sidelines by giving them the sidekick, funny and quirky girl, never-the-girl-the-main-guy-likes, main girl’s best friend type of roles. They definitely would think twice about swiping right to me unless I show them some skin or an air of being an easy lay.
For two years that I was online dating back home, I’ve only ever met five people — all of which didn’t turn into anything remotely serious. Fast forward to moving to Dubai however, in just under a year, I have at least met more than 30 people — some just for fun, some meaningful but all a life-changing lesson.
So, what changed? How did I start becoming confident and comfortable enough to date? What pushed me to go out there and meet other people?
Prior to moving here, I had an epiphany. If I want to be successful in life, if I want to create meaningful experiences, if I want to feel great about myself — I should start by putting myself out there. I can only rely on my own bubble for so long, but it wouldn’t change a damn thing if I keep running away from situations that make me feel insecure or uncomfortable. I’m moving to a new city where I don’t know anyone and no one knows about me — what better opportunity for me to brave it out and create a new persona of someone I’ve always wanted to be?
And so, around October of 2017, just right after my parents left me on my own, I went out on a date. Reminiscing about it now, I must have had some big balls right at that moment being in a completely new city barely knowing anyone with no regards as to whether or not my date was a serial killer, LOL. BUT thankfully, Dubai is a very safe place to be as a woman.
Being on that date sparked a different side of my personality. I started introducing myself as Bella to my dates. For me, Bella was this lady who exuded a lot of confidence, a good kind of flirty, a reasonable amount of fun to be around and be with, easygoing but also assertive, smart and clear about what she wants. Slowly, dates after dates Bella became my reality…and I’m glad that she did.
Here are a couple of my learnings from that experience:
- There’s always someone who is into your type. I used to be ridiculously over-worried about this but having gone out with different sorts of people, I realized that of course everybody has types and there will always be someone in the market who is just as equally into you as you are to them. Back home, I would’ve said otherwise but I’m quite lucky to have moved to a city with very diverse people and equally diverse taste.
- Do not be nervous, do not be afraid. It’s too often that we refrain from being ourselves because we immediately think about how other people will perceive us. My top tip sounds very cliche but it works: be your authentic self. It is easier and more freeing to just come as you are. If your date doesn’t like it, that’s alright. Do not fret. It’s not the end of the world. There’s still lots of opportunity to meet other people.
- Exude lots of confidence. I’m sure you’ve heard that confidence is sexy, and I cannot stress it enough. Nothing is sexier than a person who owns up to him/herself and who embraces his/her every being — may it be their intellectual, sexual, provocative, passionate selves. It goes hand in hand with my previous tip. It starts with being unapologetic about who you are.
- Embrace your curves. There are lots to love about women but one of the main things that is my personal favorite is their curves, especially when they’re framed just the right way. I’m sure a lot of men can agree as well that curves and meat in a woman is very, very nice to look at. So instead of covering up your body, find the right pieces to highlight and flaunt that bod. Later, I will give you some date night looks that I love to wear as well.
- Do not bring your insecurity to the date. As much as we try to be positive about our bodies all the time, it is still inevitable that our insecurities peek at times. However, try as you might that when you are out on a date not to let that cloud over you. You are there to have fun, you are there to have a good time. You’re not there to let the other person in the room jab at your insecurity. You are not defined by your weight and you are not your weight. Like every person in the world, you have so much more to offer on the table so don’t let your thoughts about your weight cripple you.
- Lastly, if your date is horrible… you have every right to leave and not waste any more of your precious time there. If your date turns out to be a prick, or he made a comment that just crosses your boundaries, do not be afraid to call them out on it and walk away gracefully. Not saying it will happen, but you just never know. But again, do not let one-off experiences like these taint your thunder. You are a queen, remember that.
Dating can be a lot of fun, at least in my experience it really was. For the most part, I love the prep work that happens to it — the picking out the right dress for the occasion, the hair, the make up and the general dolling up. I also greatly enjoy meeting different people who come from different places and different walks of life and knowing their story. I’m lucky if my date sweeps me off my feet but if not, then I’m still happy because I got to look really nice, I met someone new and I know I brought out my best that night.
I know dating can be horrible too, like I said in my last point. I’d say I’m quite fortunate I’ve never gotten to experience a date that horrible that I’d have to stop in my tracks and say, you know what, this is beyond me. But that tip sure comes handy at any time, I assure you that.
My biggest influence when it comes to dating is my older sis, as is with every other aspect of life. When she moved to Dubai three years ago and after a terrible breakup from a long-term relationship, she decided that it was time to date and meet other people. Not that it was new to her but seeing how confident, nonchalant and brazen she was, I couldn’t help but feel enamored. My mom used to tease that for a big girl, she sure is brave for being out there and I totally agree to that. Being out there with this size sure is a feat because the world can sometimes be cruel when it shouldn’t be. Dating, no matter what size you are, should be something fun and enjoyable and normal.
How about you? What’s your fool-proof tip about dating as a full-bodied gal?