I’ve crushed out on plenty of fat people, and am totally on board with this ‘fat people being desirable’ thing, but there’s a lot about the fat acceptance movement that makes my vagina dry up. And, ok, sure. It’s not for me, and that’s fine. I get that fat people got a lot of difficult societal pressures on them, and they have to like, deal with this somewhere and if fat acceptance helps that’s great. Gold star for fat acceptance.
Yet, there is something just so unsexy about articles telling me fat people are sexy. It’s not just fat acceptance, it’s any sort of movement designed to convince people they should find a type of person attractive. I’ve seen similar movements for people with certain types of disabilities, or gender expressions, or whatever. I told a friend I was working on a porn site, and they said “I hope it’s a queer, feminist, body positive porn site” and I was like “that sounds like the least sexy porn site ever.” Actually, I think my exact words were closer to “anything that politically correct would make my tits fall off” but same diff.
I’m a bit of a “loosely typed” bisexual so I find myself attracted to a lot of different kinds of people. I actually don’t like this about myself. Like, it sounds good I’m so non-judgmental! but it’s jarring. I keep trying to settle things down, to narrow my field so I can know where to look for people I like. Just last year, I was like “I think I’m going to be a lesbian. It’s been years since I’ve been into a man, let’s just switch from being ‘bi’ to being ‘gay.’” Then, of course, I find myself being attracted to men again and the whole thing goes to shit.
And, realizing unique attractions is always emotionally difficult. One of the first guys I remember being attracted to after my ‘lesbianism’ was a drifter who was hitting on me on the subway. He was clearly drunk, swaying slightly, and I initially tried to ignore him. However, he got in my face, and I pulled out my headphones to see what he had to say. I was wearing a leather jacket and red lipstick, and he says to me “You seem like the type of girl I’d like to know.”
“I’m gay,” I respond.
“I didn’t say nothing about sex!” He had flyaway hair and was, incidentally, a little bit fat. “Just you seem like someone who knows where it’s at.” He then proceeded to talk about himself for five minutes, telling me that he was “more monster than man” and that he’d be in the park tomorrow if I wanted to come see him. (I didn’t ask, but the vibe I got was that he’d be in the park tomorrow because that’s where he’d be sleeping tonight.)
When he walked off the train, I realized, god damn it. That guy fucking turned me on. The first guy I was overtly attracted to in 3 years was an egocentric “monster man” reeking of booze. So, I thought about it. Should I go see him in the park? I realized that I didn’t feel safe around someone that drunk, and that I really should hold out for people interested in me not just my attention. But, I can’t deny it, I was into him.
And I wanted to deny it. Whenever I’m attracted to someone outside my normal type, especially someone who is also outside the realm of “conventionally attractive,” I resist acknowledging it. But, the heart wants what it wants (or, maybe vag in this case.) It is a denial of myself to deny my attractions.
It also totally made sense that I was attracted to this guy. I fucking hate the corporate world, I hate my ties to it. One of my clients recently told me “you are very anti-establishment,” which should give you a feel for how irrepressible my urge to hate on “the machine” is. Drunk subway guy was the epitome of someone not in the system, and I responded to that. I wasn’t attracted to him in spite of the fact that he was a boozy drifter, I was into him because of it.
Another unfortunate type of guy I found myself being attracted to was the startup founder. This one made more sense initially, as small business owner myself, but I was just as unhappy about it. There was a tall blonde guy with some sort of nordic accent in my meditation group who hadn’t been on a date in years because he’d been so busy with his startup. As he talked about his meditation practice, it dawned on me (with horror) that I was attracted to him.
Please no, oh god, no! No no no! I don’t want to be a basic straight bitch, please don’t let this tall white guy turn me on.
But, he did. As it turns out, the men I’m into are homeless or CEOs. We have a lot of both in San Francisco.
Sometimes, I’m not so viscerally opposed but I am surprised. My friends always tease me for being into butch women, and it just became something I believed about myself without questioning. It’s easy to take in other people’s beliefs about you. I’m into butch women. I had some guilt around it, and tried to go on a few dates with femmes but it felt super forced and that was a total turn off. Nothing is less sexy than trying to convince yourself to be attracted to someone.
BUT! Then, I had a tinder date with with this femme woman who was visiting from Australia. She described herself as “ratty femme” and was blunt in this Australian way, and would talk to me about things SF lesbians get weird about (like, being attracted to men.) I ended up making out with her at her Airbnb, and was so turned on when I left I felt dizzy. I’d made out with a handful of butch women while casually dating, but none of them had turned me on like that. Then I was all like how do I reconcile this with butch women being my type?
Types are dumb.
Trying to get yourself to be into something is also dumb. This is really what the sand in my vagina is all about when it comes to fat acceptance. It’s like, normally there’ll be some like campaign to take a bunch of sexy pictures of heavy women, and I’ll have this weird guilt about not finding any of them attractive. But then I’ll like try to find some of them attractive and my body just refuses to cooperate.
Learning to be attracted to fat people is just about learning not to repress yourself when you feel attracted to them. It’s not something that has to be forced. One of my Orange Is The New Black crushes is Big Boo and my gf at the time was being a little snarky about her. So, I got all self conscious and tried to convince myself that I wasn’t really into her. I’M INTO RUBY ROSE GUYS, JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.
But my god, Ruby Rose’s character is duller than toast. I can’t even appreciate that she’s also a Buddhist, I am just so immediately bored by her.
Big Boo is like, totally confident in who she is. And, being fat is part of it. A fat person who is genuinely confident is 10x hotter than a slim person who is genuinely confident because it is 10x harder. Like, I *know* the pressures society is putting on fat people. Maybe I don’t first hand know it, but I’m familiar with it. Few things are hotter than a fat person who just gives zero fucks what the world thinks of them.
Unfortunately, most fat people do give some fucks. And this is where most of my conflicts around actually dating people who “struggle with their weight” come in. Self conscious is fine, if they own it, but often they don’t.
I remember one fat woman on the interwebs saying that the men who were attracted to her were attracted to her in a fetishistic way, and this was painful. And I was like, honey, you don’t think thin girls deal with this? Like, yes, being objectified for your body sucks but I don’t really see the difference between someone being turned on by thin women and someone being turned on by fat women. On the receiving end, it is different, because watching your lover get hard over something that has caused you pain can be an emotionally conflicting thing. People may also treat fat women worse for other reasons (and, I think this needs to be the focus of any activism) but physically responding to fat bodies does not seem any more fetishistic than physically responding to thin bodies. In fact, thinking that it does seems deeply counter to fat acceptance.
“Fetishes” are when people are attracted to something that’s not a common turn on, and a person’s body (fat, thin, or whatever) seems like, literally, the most normal thing to be turned on by. But even fat people have trouble accepting this. I have to be a lot more cautious about openly appreciating a fat persons physical attributes if it’s related to their fatness. Some fat people feel good because they’re squishy, but I don’t say that unless I know someone well. That said, I wouldn’t think twice about being like “killer six pack, bro” on a first date. Fat people have often internalized messages about their bodies not being ok, so to them, someone else liking their bodies often also feels not ok.
There’s another annoying thing that often comes up when I date people who aren’t down with their bodies: I often end up feeling like shit about mine. My ex and I got in this fight once where I said “Do you feel like I accept your body? Because I don’t feel like you accept mine.”
She was shocked, and told me she did feel like I accepted her body and was upset that it didn’t feel reciprocated. And I asked her, with all the negative things she said about herself, how could I ever feel safe? She was clearly capable of putting her own body through a fucking ruthless judgement, why would I expect she wasn’t judging mine just as harshly?
I’ve always sort of gotten this vibe that my physical attractiveness has mattered more to my partners who are more insecure about their own. The people I’ve dated with weight insecurities have often seemed to not like dating fat people (of course, this could be that people into fat people wouldn’t date me.) But, I kind of get the feeling that some people feel like they can avoid the work of self acceptance by dating someone who doesn’t have the things they’re insecure about.
For the most part, I liked Jes Baker’s Attractive & Fat photo shoot (see top photo & link) but there was one thing that really bugged me. She did the shoot with a stereotypically attractive guy, which was like, tolerable. But, I remember reading this comment about how we needed to see more fat people paired with slim people in ads, and I was like AGGGHHH!!!
Fat acceptance people, using slim people for how society objectifies them to try to rectify how society objectifies you SUCKS. Additionally, reinforcing the notion of “attractive” people as judges (you are hot only if a “hot” person likes you) perpetuates problem! Sometimes, it seems like fat acceptance is about looking for entry into the “hot” club while still keeping its larger oppressive structures in tact.
The oppressive structures are, essentially, institutionalized shaming of people for non-normative turn ons. Any solution that doesn’t tackle that isn’t a solution. Getting fat people into magazines won’t help disabled people, or poor people, or nerdy people.
I get so angry about this because it ties deeply to a type of love I wish I had experienced. I don’t know if I was hot in my 20s, but the nerdy guys I hung out with treated me like I was. “You’re MIT hot,” some of them told me. And, if your average fat chick has to deal with a certain kind of rejection (guys are willing to fuck her, but not date her) I had to deal with the opposite. People want to date me because I was presentable in my social circles, but I didn’t really do it for them. They weren’t so turned on by me that they were willing to violate their social norms, or question their sexual attractions. In my world, it was normative to find me attractive and the people I was around felt like they should be into me.
But they only wanted my shell. They never saw what was actually beautiful about me. They never fucking loved me, fuck, they weren’t even turned on by me. They were just comfortable introducing me to their friends, and they liked who they thought they were when they were with me. I want so badly to be loved by someone who had to take a fucking risk loving me. I want someone to feel something for me that ties to the core of their being. I want someone to be turned on by me who initially said to themselves oh god, please don’t let me be into her.
Because acceptance into the hot club and having your “type” shown in magazines isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Being desired by someone who thinks they “should” desire you isn’t the same as actually being desired. Being loved by someone because you’re “beautiful” isn’t the same as actually being loved. And, these types of false affections can really sicken you. Deep down, you always know something is missing but can’t articulate it. “I have all the things society approves of, so I should be happy, right?” But what the fuck do you do if you’re not?