Years ago, I had a conversation with a group of my close male friends and the age old question came up: Can men and women really be just friends? My boy Otto said, “No way! Guys always want to sleep with their female friends.” My friend Steve interjected, “Of course! I have a platonic female friends and I love them to death.” But then my friend Yorell said, “Yes, men can have platonic female friends, but only with women that are unattractive. If she’s pretty, there is no way you can be just her friend. That doesn’t mean it’s not a genuine friendship, but if you get the opportunity to smash, you will. Unless … she’s ugly.”
The conversation continued with everyone adding in their opinions, but Yorell’s statement had me stunned. Throughout my life I have always had a bunch of close male friends. Ever since I was a little girl, members of the male species have always wanted to be my best friend. Obviously there’s something about me that all men love. I think I’ve finally figured it out: they love my fat! Did being plus-size instantly put me in the “ugly and unattractive” female friend category?
Come on, let’s be real about this: lots of men have a fat girl they hang out with, confide in about their insecurities and fears, and invite over for quality friendship time. Sometimes she’ll even spend the night. They love to cuddle and feel the jiggly warmth of her fat rolls. And, oh my God, she actually has breasts! Big ones, pretty ones! But she’s just his friend. His best friend. Right?
She’s funny, extremely intelligent and he loves her. He probably even secretly wants to sleep with her, but he can’t — she’s fat! His other male friends would never approve of his fat girlfriend because all men know if forced to choose one extreme, it is better to be miserable and bored with a beautiful woman who has a banging body than it is to be fulfilled and happy with a fat chick! Plus, a guy can always have a skinny woman as his main squeeze and keep the fat girl as the best friend, because his girlfriend would never think he would cheat on her with the Big Girl! Even though deep in her heart, his girlfriend knows that he loves and respects the fat girl in ways that she may never receive, she doesn’t mind. After all, she’s the catch.
After years of being the surrogate fat girlfriend for a bunch of guys that probably secretly love me, but won’t date me, you would think that I would be bitter. But I’m not. Actually, I feel blessed because I have become an expert on men and relationships. I get to know the inner workings of men in ways that most women never will. Men tell me everything! Even things that their male friends will never know about them, I know. From my close male friends that work on Wall Street all the way to my home boy that works in construction, I have the hearts of men. We don’t have romantic relationships, but I get their respect and love, which many times is more than the girlfriends that come and go in their lives ever will. (Also, before you write me saying “I am a big girl, and men love to date me,” trust me, I GET IT. I date all the time, and have plenty of male fans. But I’m referring to the guys who are afraid to go there, not the ones that go there all of the time.)
Recently, the long-term girlfriend of one of my male friends called me to see how things were going. I told her that I was trying to lose weight for health reasons and she said “Girl, you’re not hanging around my boyfriend when you lose weight. He loves you too much, and if you get thick I know I’m out of the picture!”
Now, I know she was just kidding, but it did make me think. While my weight has been a burden in some ways, it has also made people feel “safe.” Will losing weight mean that I will also lose the coveted position of being every man’s fat best friend? DANGER! BEWARE! All men watch out for the shrinking fat girl: You may actually fall in love!
As a joke, a friend of mine forwarded me an ad on Craigslist. A guy who described himself as shy and not able to meet women wanted a BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) to be his wingwoman. He was searching for an attractive, full-figured woman to go with him to bars and help him meet women. Of course I couldn’t resist applying for the job. Not because I was really interested, but because I wanted to know why he wanted a fat female best friend.
He told me that full-figured women are much more easy-going. He’s a former college athlete who plays ball overseas and he was tired of “model chicks,” because they were high-maintenance. So I asked him, “If you like the personality of a BBW, how about you put up an ad to date one?”
“Damn, I never thought of that!” he responded.
Go figure. (No pun intended.)
I recently got a great Groupon deal to join an amazing gym. One day, while I was working out, I realized that I have the possibility to lose more than just weight. It’s not just the size of my waist that will change, but my relationships and the way people relate to me will change as well. I love all of my male friends, and I’ve been “one of the guys” for so long that I don’t know how to be anything else. What will I do if losing weight also means losing the place I have in my friends’ lives and their hearts? Am I ready for that?
Now, don’t get me wrong: plenty of men like plus-sized women and I meet them all the time. It’s not like I’m some ugly duckling that gets no play. At the same time, while most of my close male friends would say that they are not typically attracted to plus-size women, many of them have found themselves being attracted to my mind and spirit, but my weight may have held them back.
So this time the question is not Can men and women be friends? Instead, it’s Can men and former fat girls stay friends? We shall see. I haven’t lost any male friends yet, but I did lose five more pounds!
Erica Watson is an actress and comedienne. Find out more at EricaWatson.com.