a letter to potential ‘admirers’: what does my fat body mean to you?

(Originally posted on tumblr, here.)

I’ve been wanting to write some sort of response to that Village Voice article about fat admirers from last week (beyond my first impressions post), but every time I sit down to write about its many problems, or about representations of fat sexuality in general (and where this article in particular fits in), I draw a blank. So instead of addressing that article in particular, I’d like to share some thoughts with you about my fat body and what it means to be the object of someone’s desire, in the form of a letter.

Dear Potential Sex Partner,

Hi! My name is Margitte, and I’m fat. I am, of course, more than *just* a fat chick. And although my identity as ‘fat’ (a label I deliberately claim for political and personal reasons) is a crucial part of my lived experience, I am positive that the things that are most interesting about me exist at the intersections of my (multiple, mutable) identities. You should know that, too.

I don’t particularly care why or how I caught your eye. You might have a thing for blondes, or people with slightly crooked teeth, or people whose laugh sounds like a thousand dishes breaking. Or maybe it’s because you like my body. I certainly wouldn’t blame you; it’s a pretty kick-ass body.

If it’s my body that has attracted you to me—if it’s my fat, in particular—you’ll have to understand that I might be suspicious at first. This isn’t because I don’t think anyone could possibly desire a fat body: I’ve had lots and lots of sex, with people of all sizes, and I know that I’m pretty dang desirable. But I also know that sometimes, because women like me are taught to feel certain (negative) ways about their fat bodies, fat women are seen as ‘easy targets’. Some (idiotic, nasty, unfeeling) people believe that, because we feel shame about our bodies, we are more likely to 1) be grateful for their sexual attention and 2) have sex with them. These people are predators. If you are this person, kindly go fuck yourself.

If you are attracted to my fat body because you have a sexual preference for fat bodies, cool. But let’s talk about that for a second.

I’m not really interested in the “story” of why you think you have this preference (one man in the VV article says he likes fat women because they’re like giant boobs, while another said he realized he loved fat girls when he sat down next to one on the bus and got a boner). We all have our sexual preferences, kinks, and fetishes. I think that attempts to identify where they come from are usually rooted in ideas about deviant sexuality as wrong and bad and not okay (and yes, if you are a non-fat person who is attracted to fat people, your sexuality is considered deviant). I think these thought exercises are unproductive and usually end up just demonizing non-normative sexuality further.

But I need to know something, and it’s really important: what does my fat body mean to you?

Fat means different things to different people, but the cultural assumptions about fat people [that we are “lazy, unattractive, lacking self-esteem and willpower, [and are] socially inept and intellectually slow” (Blaine & McElroy, 2002, p. 351)] permeate our existence: and these attitudes are hard to escape. But if you, like me, think these things are totally bunk, then kudos to you! You already have a much more likely chance of me returning your interest.

HOWEVER: if, for some reason, my body represents some greater idea for you, or if you think it tells you something about me or my lifestyle or how good I am at oral sex, you may also go fuck yourself. If you like my body because you think it represents some sort of sexually exciting lack of control, some ravenous sexual hunger, I’d really like you to examine for a second where that idea comes from. Because fat people are seen as lacking self-control (a trait that is deeply valued in this society), and because most people spend the large majority of their lives judiciously attending to their bodies so that they align with said ‘controlled body’, fat bodies can sometimes be fetishized as excessive, uncontrollable. And this can be titillating for some people. (Anecdotal side note: the obsessive body builder that exclusively dates fat people? I think this is sorta what’s going on there). But I don’t want the IDEA of my body as a representation of something (like a ‘lack of control’) to be the reason you are attracted to me. If this is the case: well, you know the drill by now.

I think it’s perfectly legitimate to have a sexual preference for fat bodies. If that’s you, cool. Just don’t assume that my body means any one thing in particular. Don’t assume that my fatness predetermines anything about me, or about a potential relationship with me. DO NOT assume that you are doing me any favors by showing interest in me.

If you can do all this—and for the sake of some potentially hot, sexy funtimes, I hope you can—I won’t make any assumptions about you and your interest in my fat body.

I mean, that’s fair, right?



8 thoughts on “a letter to potential ‘admirers’: what does my fat body mean to you?

  1. I have always loved your fat body, even when it was very, very small . . . and no where near as fat as your baby sister. As an off and on fatty all my life, I’m glad I’m finally through with diets after sixty years or so! Go Margitte!

  2. personally I find comfort in the fact that my boyfriend is no fat-admirer for the reasons you said, if he was I’d be so worried about his reasons for being one. This way, knowing that he prefers different sizes than mine and yet says he’s attracted to me and loves me, I feel more like he fell in love with ME and MY body, not just some idea he had of it.

    good post.

    • Glad I don’t have a boyfriend. Most of the long-ago ones loved my body, not me—which makes for a passing fancy, even if it’s seventeen years! Now, I love me. And a clear majority of my children and their spouses and my and grandchildren love me just enough to make me happy. Smiles, Gloria

  3. Interesting piece. I enjoyed reading it. You should write from time to time and publish a book or as we will say in the 22nd century “a blog” :) . There is a fine line between those who love curves and mean it and those who just say it because it is the cool thing to say for the moment. Always love the one important person in the world to you ~ the one you see in the mirror.
    When you love yourself enough to love others, then you are sharing a little portion of you with the world that like to see you achieve whatever you set your heart to. 1Love.
    I liked this passage:” most interesting about me exist at the intersections of my (multiple, mutable) identities.”. Ciao. Rémi

  4. I’ve thought long and hard* about the reasons for my attraction to fat women. It developed late in life, when i started hanging around super-smart artist gals, scholars, creatives, and the like. The combination of qualities: well-read, funny, generous, feminist, deeply interesting, melancholy, sexually exciting, etc. seemed to be only found in plump/fat women, and that combination made me crazy attracted. It never felt like a fetish, just a preference.
    your writing here has been useful to me.

    (* i said ‘long and hard’. hehe. see? i can be puerile too.)

  5. This is a great article. I wish I would have found it sooner.

    Personally, I am a person that has dated various body types and know I am attractive to women deemed beautiful by societal standards. However, I prefer bigger women and that is that. Perhaps there is a level of empathetic co-marginalization going on (I am a minority who was born and raised in a predominately white environment–an environment in which I still feel most comfortable.) Perhaps empathy (NOT sympathy) is a turn on. I don’t know.

    Trying to hone in on a reason for one’s fat admiration can be both beneficial and detrimental to fat admirers. There is a confluence of causes that produce my sexual preference. Honestly exploring them all can get complicated given the tendency to reduce things to their constituent parts to be studied individually. What’s more, from one viewpoint, a person can come off as a “predator.” From another, that same person can come off as a compassionate companion. Explaining this to someone complicates what initially feels like a sincere and pure attraction to bigger women. As this article says, having to explain things implies a need to justify an apparently deviant behavior. Of course, I understand the need of the admired to know an admirer isn’t a creep, but the problem comes in the definition of creep: which reasons are creepy or sleazy and which aren’t?

  6. You are allowed not to want to have sex or relationships with fat people.Or people with brown hair or blond or pink.Preferences is ok.We all have them.Subtly shaming me for my body while claiming you are above preferences or bodies or whatever makes you a hypocritical bully hiding behind false sanctimony.

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