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Chivalry Is Dead For Fat Girls

When I think of how being fat has affected my career in media, I think of when I was at university, taking the first reporting and camera course. We were partnered up for our different story projects in this class. For one of my final projects, I was partnered with a friend, Christine. She and I lugged the heavy equipment from various buildings and flights of stairs. The light kit, the tripod and the camera with two batteries was easily 50 pounds and more. She made a comment that made me realize something that would haunt me and push me at the same time: “I kinda miss working with the guys, ‘cos they always carried this stuff for us girls.”

I had no idea what she was referring to. Apparently (and I checked), the boys who worked would carry the heavy equipment for all the girls in the class and open doors for them, but not once did they do the same for me. It occurred to me that this was the first real smack in the face of reality that looks are 99% of it and that rarely is that 1% given a care. That 1% of professionalism, passion and drive to get the project done is all in the spirit of teamwork.

It wasn’t like the boys were rude to me – they never made comments that I was unattractive, fat, anything like that. In all fairness, they probably didn’t realize they were doing it. But it was a cold hard truth that I was fat and the other girls weren’t. Some wore makeup, some didn’t. Some wore tight clothing, others didn’t. I easily wore the baggiest clothes because I wanted to see the rolled up fat that surrounded my whole body less than anyone else.

My immediate response to Christine’s comment was to hide my face and push back tears, then after a few beats say, “Well, I never had such help. I am an independent, capable person just like I am sure you are. So quit your whining and pick up the 30 pound camera bag so we can get this story done and get our A.”

And we did get an A. We did get our story on the university student-run show (which I became the producer of by the following year). My weight will change for the better for health reasons; I may have a few more eyes on me and boys trying to impress me by lugging the equipment. It might not happen but I do hope it will, because once they take notice of this fit girl, I will not abuse it, I will not let it make me any lazier. For one thing will stay the same: my professionalism, my drive, my passion to do what I love to do. I will always be that 1%.

Tara works in media production and is currently living her dream of traveling, telling stories and continues to be a television and film aficionado. Follow her on twitter @tara_jabbari and read her travel experiences on her blog:, her videos from around the globe can be found on

Featured Image via Shutterstock.
  • Leah Peeks

    I don’t get it. I’m totally fat and men carry things and open doors and do all of the man things. I don’t think this experience had as much to do with your quality, but instead the quality of the men with whom you were surrounded.

  • Christina Martinez

    As a girl of the curvier nature, I have to object to this. Granted this is your opinion and as you have yours, I have mine. If I were struggling so bad with shaking arms and wobbly legs whilst trying to lug something heavy, the very next dude I saw was going to et asked to help me…or anyone for that matter. Sometimes you need to pipe up instead of waiting for a guy to help. It might even remind him to be chivalrous to all ladies.

  • Faby Hernandez

    i know that feeling ,there was time when i was in my biggest weight and remember i was going of stairs and 1 of my shoes fall off, and then this guy pass and just make fun and keep walking, one year later i lost a lot of weight and the same thing happened but the guy stop and he was going to give me my shoe so i just say no need thanks i can do it my self, so yes you are right

  • Bethan Watkins

    As a fat girl, I agree with you to an extent. Men regularly offer to hold doors open for me, carry things for me, etc., but I think they do offer to help smaller girls more often. However, perhaps the ‘chivalry’ we experience is in fact just politeness? Women also hold doors open for me, and I hold doors open for both men and women regularly. I’m not bothered about men being chivalrous towards me, as chivalry is a silly and dated concept. People should just be more polite to one another and help each other when they are struggling, regardless of their gender or physical appearance.

  • Tiffany Reynolds

    Some men will be nice and ask to help during these types of situations, but I do understand her true point.
    I have been fat my entire life, and I have seen how men ignore bigger women. It does not have anything to do about the guy being respectful, but what his instincts are.

  • Jodie Deignan

    I’m pretty heavy, but men still open doors for me, offer to carry things, etc. I don’t know that it’s just about aesthetics.

  • Sarah Alana Levin

    I dunno. I’m overweight but still had people hold heavy objects for me, open doors, help me out.. Never had this problem.

  • Sarah Alana Levin

    Actually, my husband is incredibly chivalrous! A reason how I fell in love with him!

  • Becky Gilbert

    Ugh. Girl, you got a chip on your shoulder, and that’s what’s unattractive, not your pant size. It’s a little much to expect both chivalry and equality, first of all. I mean, it’s always good to be polite, and we should expect those around us to be civil, but ‘chivalry’ comes from a tradition where women were protected because they were weak. So maybe all these guys who aren’t helping you just think that you’re capable of doing things on your own. Which is a very good thing. Second of all, before someone can love you, you have to love yourself. Which means, stop comparing yourself to other girls and what they wear and what their makeup looks like, and start focusing on making yourself the best you can be. And the best you can be is not some girl who waits around for boys to carry her stuff…when you meet the right guy for you, he’ll see you as a partner, not as someone who is dependent on him. And that’s a good thing! (Disclaimer: My boyfriend is actually really chivalrous, to the point that sometimes it makes me a little uncomfortable, and I’m totally fat. So, I disagreed with the article from the get-go) My biggest piece of advice? Don’t let ‘being fat’ define who you are, in your own mind more than anyone else’s.

  • Katrina ‘Catfish’ King

    Or maybe she’s trying to say that us smaller girls are abusing our powers and making guys do stuff for us? I may be small, but I pull my own weight in this world!

  • Rox Caron

    This is frustrating to me. This is the type of “situation” that feeds the fat-shaming thing.

    It sounds more like a self-pity sort of thing. It’s unfounded and unresearched.

    This is strictly out of low self-esteem. “Oh, they don’t help me… must be because I’m fat!”. That thought alone, proves it. They probably do not help you because you put out a certain vibe.

    I’m a big girl, and I’ve had numerous chivalrous men come to my aid. If a man doesn’t hold the door for me, one morning, I will not automatically assume it’s because of my size.

    I sort of feel sorry for you. You let one incident from the past guide your judgement now. An incident that was probably not even an actual incident.

    Had the men made comments, or bullied you, that would be different, but this feels very petty.


  • Jess Gordon

    Speaking from my own experience as a girl with extra meat on her bones, I have seen this from both sides. Chivalry is less to do with us as woman and more to do with the men and their values.
    I consider myself incredible independent and capable and often when men see that, then they don’t want to undermine my convictions by being chivalrous for fear of me feeling patronised. And then there are times when I get into my own head with thinking like “guys ignore me coz I’m fat” and then the next second I’ve been shocked by a gentleman opening the door in front of me and waiting for me to head through first with a smile…

    Basically we often expect a lot from guys and it can be a confusing balancing act for them, we demand equality and to be treated as an equal, not mollycoddled and the next minute we want to be waited upon and slavishly admired…all without having to ask for it and the guy to just simply know which mood we’re in.

    My opinion however, is that at the end of the day a chivalrous guy is a chivalrous guy and he’ll behave as such. Any guy who simply turns on the chivalry to get in a pair of knickers isn’t worth it in the long run anyway. And if you’re lucky enough you stumble upon a guy who’s able to recognise that fine balance between treating you like a lady, while allowing you a healthy dose of independence and self reliance…well they’re the ones worth keeping around… I found mine, so they’re definitely still out there.

  • Tamara Lee

    I liked this until the end because I can relate to it. Plus sized girl in journalism school. Been there. Done that. Felt self conscious but I also learned that to be successful in that field you also have to be very confident. Maybe that’s why it didn’t work out for me. I came out more confident in general just not enough I guess. It’s hard to erase all the trash you hear about yourself growing up big. I guess I never will. That is maybe why the end of this killed me. If I’ve learned anything it’s to love who you are at any size or nobody else will.

    It’s great that you got fit (It really Is) and now men notice you and don’t treat you like garbage but the point is that they should never have treated you like that in like that In the first place. It’s like you’re letting them off the hook and that is just not okay. So you were fat. Okay. You were still a lady and if their mommas taught them anything they would still have carried the camera case. Fat women can and should still be treated with respect and treated like humans.

    The name of this article is misleading. I would have thought there would be some research or something into why men think it’s ok to be rude to plus size ladies. You know…to find out why/if chivalry really is dead. I’ve gotta say though that I’m not so sure any of my “thin” friends have really truly encountered a true gentleman either so maybe it’s not just a solely fat issue or if the issue is more with how men are nowadays. OR maybe men are less ‘chivalrous’ because us ladies can take care of ourselves nowadays. Tis a mystery.

    • Rebecca Emily Darling

      It’s likely that the editors at Hello Giggles came up with the title of the essay to attract clicks… that’s usually the case when a title is very catchy but doesn’t fully match the article.

  • Rebecca Emily Darling

    Some of these comments are quite mean. This woman made herself vulnerable and wrote about her own experience. It doesn’t have to speak for all fat women, it doesn’t have to be researched, it doesn’t have to be “right” or “wrong” because it is *her* experience and *her* opinion. Not every piece that is written by a fat woman about being fat has to be from a positive perspective in order to make it valid or deserving of respect.

  • Kezia Germ

    I like this! It seems very honest. Just because you got in shape doesn’t mean you have to give up your independence and drive, and I think that is cool of you to say.

  • Astrid Timbite Eriksen

    This is sort of all over the place. How did guys not carrying your equipment affect your career in media? I mean, since you were able to carry it yourself and get an A

  • Laura Belle Hood

    Yes! This is such a beautiful post. I am also in the same position and noticed the differences in college as well. I had offered to do some background acting or small parts for my classmates films, but was never taken up on the offer because I didn’t fit the mold. I wasn’t the idea shape or size, being and over weight woman who is 6’2″ isn’t quite average. I know they meant nothing mean by it but I know why they never jumped on the offer. My mom even mentioned to me once how it will probably be hard for me to get a job in Hollywood because of my weight. I’m very realistic about how I look and I understand that people do judge a book by its cover, but I hope that a person’s hard work and kick ass personality and blow those first misconceptions away.

    Thank you for this post. :)

  • Olivia Johnson

    Maybe your attitude is why they never offered you help? It seems like you’re making assumptions. Like other comments said, your first thought when a guy doesn’t act like a Disney prince shouldn’t be “It’s because I’m fat, isn’t it?” And your response to your friend seemed rude considering she just made an innocent comment. I thought I was going to relate to this because I’m a bigger girl, but it just seems like you’re having a pity party.

  • Rose Winfield

    This piece is ridiculous you are judging every guy and stereotyping in the same way that you accuse men of stereotyping “fat girls”. Some people have more manners than others, and there are too many variables which contribute to manners. Yes, research suggests that more attractive people have people respond to them more positively and there is discrimination against larger people, but so what.

    Just because you look good doesn’t mean that you don’t have problems or issues and doesn’t mean life is a breeze.

    You say you are professional but your article is anything but, your just shallow and insecure and only care about male attention, also expecting guys to do stuff for you that’s just lazy and doesn’t sound like a rewarding goal. Perhaps the guys avoided you because you are self deprecating and not a very nice person rather than the way you look.

  • Gregory James

    I am a man who frequently offers to help others regardless of their gender, their weight or how pretty I think they are. I did not enjoy this misandristic article at all.

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