Fat Friend: Why We Hate Being the Biggest One in the Group

You love your friends and care about their wellbeing, but what about their weight? Does a little part of you hope to be the skinniest one – just by a pound or two? This was the case for Austria-born Stephanie Garber, who was confident about her body until her friends started to lose weight.

According to Stephanie, who now works as a writer in Melbourne, Australia, ‘For years, my friends and I were a Lego set of different shapes and sizes. It was a point of pride. Other girls went out in peroxide-blonde size-2 packs but we all had our individual looks. I was the confident one. I wore a bikini no matter what state my stomach was in. I never stressed about what boys would say if they saw me naked…No one but the shallowest of frat boys would have called me fat. But neither would anyone describe me as thin or skinny or any of the things girls are meant to be.’

However, seemingly out of nowhere Stephanie’s friends lost weight. ‘All my friends were now thin and I was not,’ she realised. ‘I was the biggest girl in the group.’ Stephanie explained, ‘There was something so insidious, so darkly threatening about those words: “the biggest.” I was already the shortest in the group and the loudest and least employed. Now I also had another label and I couldn’t get comfortable with it.’

‘I had always firmly believed that weight loss was a false ideal,’ Stephanie commented. ‘This idea of “skinny = happy” was a conspiracy by the patriarchy to make women doubt themselves. Tet my friends seemed happy. Maybe losing weight could make me happier too? Plus what were they thinking as they watched me tuck into a bowl of chips? Did that seem disgusting?  Did my confidence seem like a joke? Were they judging me? Were they judging my body?’

Stephanie knew deep-down that her friends weren’t judging here, so what was the problem? ‘“My friends are all thinner than me” really meant “I feel bad about myself”,’ she noted. ‘And as soon as I realised that, I realised changing my weight would not fix any of the issues in my life. For some people, their weight is holding them back from some great life goal. Achieving that goal genuinely gives them personal satisfaction. But for many of us, focusing on weight lets us avoid all the other issues in our lives…I may still be the biggest girl in the group, but it matters less when no one’s keeping score. I’m once again at peace with my body.’

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