7 Confidence Boosters For Overweight Daters

Sexy isn't a size, but dating can do a number on anyone's self-esteem. Follow these strategies to maintain a healthy self-image and keep your confidence high when there's more of you to love.

By Theo Pauline Nestor

ccording to the CDC, approximately 34 percent of adult Americans are overweight; according to TV shows and films, however, most of the people who fall in love tend to be thin and preternaturally good-looking. Empirical evidence shows us that people of all shapes and sizes meet and fall in love; for proof, any trip to
You have to accept yourself for the beautiful person you are.
your local mall should yield up scores of overweight people holding hands with their beloved partners, strolling and shopping. And yet, when overweight people enter the dating scene, they're often overwhelmed by feeling unlovable and unattractive to others. It's a feeling that naturally undermines a person's confidence — one of the qualities that experts agree is essential to attraction.

Plus-sized daters should "have unshakeable confidence," advises Rachel Russo, a New York City-based dating, relationship and image coach ( "The overweight single must not be apologetic for his/her weight but should rather embrace it, and realize [that a person's] weight does not have to impact [someone's] self-worth — and the ability to love and be loved."

But how does someone gain that confidence in a culture that tells us "thin is in" everywhere you look? We've culled ideas from experts on body image, self-esteem and plus-size fashion and compiled their seven best success strategies for curvy daters.

1. Practice self-acceptance
"In order to have confidence, you have to accept yourself for the beautiful person you are," says Marie Denee, the plus-size fashion and style blogger who founded The Curvy Fashionista blog, which provides fashion, lifestyle, and beauty tips and tricks specifically for plus size women. "Not everyone will like you — and this is OK!" Denee says. "You are not attracted to every person, are you? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but more importantly, you have to accept yourself for who you are — curves, love handles and all!"

Holistic health counselor Golda Poretsky agrees, and she advises overweight daters to "make friends with their reflections." How? "Every time (and I mean every time) you catch your reflection in the mirror or a window or whatever, affirm to yourself: I am beautiful," she suggests. Say it aloud or in your head, if you prefer. Try mixing things up by adding in other phrases, such as "I am sexy/gorgeous/fabulous," if you like. "If you keep this practice going, not only will you believe it, but you'll exude it," says Poretsky, who teaches the "Body Love Makeover Attraction Program" course for overweight women who would like to date more and feel more attractive.

Poretsky says that self-acceptance can also come from seeing yourself as part of a beautiful, plus-sized lineage. "The 'thin is in' motto of the last century or so is just a blip in the human timeline," she asserts. "For thousands of years, women of all shapes and sizes were honored as embodying the divine feminine in the world. Connect with that heritage — and the heritage of big, beautiful women in recent history — to connect with the true beauty within and without. Connect with it, and you will exude it."

2. Don't assume that others think you're unattractive
We all make assumptions about what other people find attractive, but often, those assumptions needlessly limit us. "Let go of assumptions," Poretsky urges daters of all sizes. "What do you assume [anything negative] about your attractiveness? Do you think you 'can't wear' certain things? Do you assume that certain people, based on their looks or background, won't be interested in you? Get clear on your assumptions and practice operating without them. It will open up worlds!"

3. Be honest when posting photos of yourself online
While the temptation to post online pictures from thinner times of yesteryear is a strong one, experts agree it's better to fight the urge. Instead, they suggest only posting photos with your online dating profile that are both flattering and truly representative of your actual appearance today. "Posting several recent photos that represent how you really look from all angles is essential," says Russo.

Using overly flattering images could also lead to some embarrassing and disappointing dating situations. If prospective suitors are going to be uninterested based on your weight alone, it's best to eliminate them
Weight/body type is often an important part of one's matching criteria.
early in the process so that your time isn't wasted. "Photos that don't accurately represent how a dater currently looks are a recipe for disappointment — by both parties," Russo says. "The person who initially saw the photos is likely to feel deceived, frustrated, and turned off. Weight/body type is often an important part of one's matching criteria. It is also something that people don't easily change their minds on. I often hear complaints from men about women who appeared 10-20 pounds lighter in photos. Contrary to what the women may have hoped for, the men almost never seemed to be attracted enough to the women to look past the lie."

4. Reframe your self-descriptions in a positive way
Denee encourages people to describe themselves in terms they feel good about and truly identify with in their online dating profiles. "While there are a lot of terms within the plus-sized community that you could use — fluffy, more to love, full-figured, fat, voluptuous, or curvy — whichever one you choose to use to describe how you feel about yourself and can identify should work best," she explains.

"As for descriptors, I interchange between 'plus-size' and 'curvy.' While I am on the smaller side of plus, I have embraced who I am, so for me, I would say either curvy or plus-size," Denee says.

5. Make friends with the idea of rejection
Keep in mind that rejection is an inherent part of the dating process, regardless of size or gender. "Everyone gets rejected," emphasizes Poretsky. "It's important to remind yourself that rejection happens to everyone. It's just part of dating! If you're always blaming your size for dating woes, it's time to stop. The answer is to date more, not less. Rejection hurts a lot less when you have a date lined up for the next night."

6. Learn how to accentuate the positive
Experts agree that focusing on your best assets is one way to take the attention off your weight. "Accentuate the parts of your body that you already like," Poretsky says. "Even if you're new to the body acceptance game, there's probably some part of you that you like. Maybe it's your eyes, or your hands, or your cleavage. Accentuate that part with makeup, clothing, jewelry or shimmery body lotion."

Russo suggests that the "overweight dater should take the focus off his/her weight and onto style and fashion sense. There is a lot to consider when creating an image that will attract love, and overweight daters should pay extra attention to all elements of their appearance. Of course, women have more options with hair, makeup, clothing and accessories, but men these days have a lot to choose from as well. The most important things to consider when purchasing garments, products, or image-related services are fit and color; in order to have a fabulous appearance, you must definitely develop an understanding of which colors go together and which clash. With a little education (as well as trial and error), you'll be able to match everything from skin and hair tones to lipstick shades and shirt colors."

7. Dress for dating success
Fashionista Denee says that "dressing for a date shouldn't be any different from dressing up for any other event — the key here is being comfortable and yourself. These two in tandem will allow your confidence to be at its peak. Being dressed in something that's comfortable and that makes you feel good shows in your body posture, your walk, and in your eyes — all of which are things that engage others in a positive way. We live in a very visual world that can quickly judge someone by the book. In this case, you want your cover to be interesting and to look like a great read."

Denee circles back to confidence, however, as the one thing that trumps any style choice or item of clothing when it comes to feeling more attractive. "'Confidence as the best thing you can wear' can best be described as wearing what you are most comfortable in and that you feel best in. When you feel good — i.e., you're wearing an outfit that fits properly and that reflects your true personal style — you look good. This combination of looking and feeling good has the potential to boost anyone's personal self-esteem!"

Theo Pauline Nestor is the author of How to Sleep Alone in King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over and a regular contributor to Happen magazine.
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