I’m Fat & People Still Want to Fuck Me

Hey! This post deals with weight and body image stuff. If that’s tough or triggering for you, I encourage you to skip this post. I won’t be offended at all. You take care of you. ♥

chubby belly

In early 2014, I “embarked on a weight loss journey.” That’s how I phrased it. Because I was trying to be positive about it. I didn’t want it to be poisoned with all the self-hatred and patriarchal beauty standards I’d come to associate with weight loss.

But let’s face it: it was definitely about self-hatred and beauty. That became immediately clear when I noticed how much counting calories was sapping my emotional energy, and yet decided to keep doing it.

15139783471_798aa0785e_oI got down to the lowest weight I’d been in years, 150 pounds. On my 5’5″ frame, that put me into the BMI range called “normal,” rather than “overweight” – not that BMI is a terribly useful measure, but still, I was proud. Through hard work and focus and perseverance, I’d whipped my body into shape.

And I liked the way I looked. But no one wanted to fuck me.

Oh, maybe they did. I have no way of knowing. But certainly, my weight loss didn’t translate into any tangible sexual success for me, the way I had envisioned it might. My 3.5-year relationship came to an end right at the time that I hit my lowest weight, and we hadn’t had sex in months – and then, after we broke up, I was too shy and anxious to pursue sex with anyone else. So my vagina remained a no-fly zone.

12189697_10204235816849774_3570291086761898945_nOver the following year-and-a-bit, I lost motivation. It became too difficult to focus obsessively on calories on top of school, work, writing, and having a social life. I gained back all the weight and more. I’m now the fattest I’ve ever been, at 190 pounds. That’s frustrating, and makes me feel like a failure, and many a time I’ve looked into the mirror at my naked body and completely hated what I saw. But, weirdly: I’ve never received more sexual attention than I have in the past few months.

Please understand that I’m reporting this to you not with a braggy tone but with an incredulous one. There was a time when I deeply, honestly, truly believed that my weight was the barrier between me and romantic success. I saw some women in my communities who were fat and still socially successful, but I believed they had something fundamental that I did not: a pretty face, a fun personality, an “it factor” I just hadn’t been born with.

So, it was definitely surprising to me that I hit 190 pounds and now can’t even keep track of all the sexual and romantic propositions I receive. In fact, it kind of makes me angry that our culture told me this was impossible.

The notion of the “unfuckable fat woman” is a rampant one in our media and culture. A fat woman who has sexual desires – especially if she dares to act on those desires! – is often a punchline. As if it’s hilarious, shocking and ridiculous that someone so undesirable would view herself any other way. As if fat people can’t be gorgeous, hot, loveable and fuckable.

While weight gain was positively correlated with sexual attention for me, I’m definitely not trying to argue that correlation implies causation in this case. I don’t think people are more into me now because I’m fatter; I just think I’ve grown up a little, I’m more confident, less anxious. Paradoxically, while I don’t like my body these days, I’ve also learned that my body doesn’t define me as a person, so I like myself more overall. You’ve probably heard it thousands of times, but it really is true: confidence makes a person hotter. It’s an almost universal fact.

I’m also “putting myself out there” more than I ever was before. Anxiety kept me from attending events for a long time, and also made it difficult for me to stick with services like OkCupid and Tinder. Part of that anxiety was about my body: even though I wasn’t as fat then as I am now, I still worried that I’d look thinner/cuter in my photos online and that my matches would be disappointed when we met up in person. Now I know better – I post photos that show what my body really looks like and let the chips fall where they may. And you know what? A lot of people love my body!

There is something freeing, too, about the word “fat” itself. I avoided it for a long time, choosing words like “chubby” instead. I did this partly because I wasn’t technically “plus-size” (usually the cut-off is size 12-14, and I’ve only recently crossed that threshold) and didn’t want to claim that word without having actual experience being read as fat, and partly because the word scared me. I had internalized the message that “fat” is one of the worst things someone can call you.

As with many hurtful labels, though, if you claim one for yourself, it stings less when someone else slaps it on you. Recently some dickhead on the internet called me “fat and ugly” and it didn’t bother me at all – because I knew it was kinda true and I knew that was okay. Beauty is subjective, fat is fine, and just because that guy isn’t attracted to me doesn’t mean no one is. That seems like an obvious insight, maybe, but it helps me each and every time I remind myself of it.

I still have body anxiety sometimes. I think we all do. And I still deeply value the affirming comments I receive from sexual partners: “I love your body,” “You’re so beautiful,” “Your hips/stomach/thighs/butt is so sexy.” You can like your body and still need affirmation sometimes; that’s perfectly fine and normal. I have so much gratitude for partners who understand that – who know that my fat body is inherently valuable and desirable and valid but that I still appreciate being told that.

There may come a time in my future when I have the energy and the drive to work on weight loss again. I know I’d be healthier and happier at a lower weight, but I also know that right now, I just don’t have the time and emotional bandwidth to put myself through that process. But no matter how my body might change over the course of my lifetime, at least I know now that weight doesn’t affect my desirability as much as I feared it did. That’ll give me the confidence I need to live my life as a fat, openly sexual woman.

5 Ways I Use Mindfulness to Lose Weight

Dear darlings: I know that weight talk and body stuff can be tough for some of you. It’s never my intention to shame you or make you feel bad, and this post definitely won’t aim to do that – but if you know that this subject matter is tricky for you, I encourage you to skip this post. You know what’s best for you, my friend!

I’m a chubby bunny, and mostly I’m okay with that. I’ve been lucky enough to have lovers and suitors in my life who’ve lavished attention on my curvy bod, making me see that my wide hips, soft belly and thunder thighs might not be the end of the world.

That said: my body seems to work better at a weight that’s a little lower than where I’m at right now. Currently I hover around 165 pounds, and when I’m down around 140-150, I feel stronger, healthier, happier, and more energetic. And who doesn’t want that?!

Last summer I lost 20 pounds (most of which I gained back from the stress of school and a break-up – oh, woe!), and during that process I learned a lot about habit formation, nutrition, and self-control strategies that work for my particular brain. As far as tangible processes go, calorie-counting is the only thing that’s ever worked for me – but my calorie-counting successes were only made possible by practicing mindfulness.

What is mindfulness? It’s an old, old concept often attributed to Buddhism. It’s the practice of being present, of being here now, of noticing and fully experiencing the sensations and thoughts and events of the current moment. When you’re being truly mindful, you don’t replay the past or worry about the future. You just be – here and now and only here and now.

You may be familiar with the idea of mindfulness if you practice meditation or yoga, or if you’ve studied facets of the Buddhist tradition, or even if you’ve used certain psychotherapeutic techniques like CBT or deep breathing. It’s all part of the same overarching idea, but today I’m going to tell you specifically about how mindfulness helps me lose weight. (If phrases like “lose weight” bother you, you can sub in the phrase “get healthier” – the same principles apply!)

1. Mindful eating.

I am still learning how to do this well. Meal times are often blessed breaks from work, so it’s natural to want to kick back and do something relaxing while you eat, like catch up on your Netflix queue or scroll through your Twitter feed.

But experts say eating mindfully is a way better approach. You digest your food better and get more nutrition from it. You’re less likely to overeat due to distraction. And amazingly, you actually enjoy your food more. Tastes and textures seem fabulously vivid and pleasurable when you give all your attention to what you’re eating.

2. What am I really hungry for?

I have learned that often my desire to eat is rooted in some other kind of desire, some non-stomach-based hunger of one kind or another.

If you feel yourself wanting to eat something that may not be so good for your body, it can be helpful to ask yourself: what am I really hungry for right now?

If I’m just bored and want something to do, I can put on a TV show, work on a creative project, go for a walk, read a book, do some yoga, or pretty much any other activity that will capture my attention.

If I’m craving the pleasure I’d get from eating a piece of chocolate or a big-ass burrito, I can seek out pleasure in other ways – for example, by masturbating, listening to some favorite tunes, starting a conversation with someone who makes me laugh, or cuddling my cat. (Of course, it’s important not to replace unhealthy pleasures with other unhealthy pleasures, like excessive boozin’, drugs, or a shopping addiction!)

If I want the energy boost I can expect from certain foods, I can get the same kind of kick from tea or coffee, a brisk walk around the block, or a groovy yoga flow sequence.

If it’s just a “mouth-boredom” thing, I can make a pot of tea, chew some sugar-free gum, or even engage in some hardcore flossing.

And of course, there are times when hunger is actually hunger. Practicing mindfulness has sharpened my ability to identify when I’m actually, physically hungry. And when I am, I eat!

3. Mindful exercise – or not.

I used to hate exercising. (Well, honestly, sometimes I still do. But mostly I don’t.) While running on the treadmill or contorting myself into yoga poses, my mind would go a mile a minute. “I hate this!” “This is so hard!” “This is taking too long!” “Is this almost over?”

Eventually I learned that I experience less psychological turmoil about exercising if I choose to really center myself in the present moment. If I’m intimately focused on every footfall, on the stretch and pull of every muscle, on the dependable in-and-out of my breath, not only do I have fewer resistant thoughts, but the exercise actually starts to feel better. It can be downright pleasurable sometimes!

Learning about mindfulness has also shown me, though, that sometimes focusing too much on my present moment can emphasize any discomfort I’m experiencing. Mindfulness experts would tell me to “breathe through it” but sometimes that just doesn’t work for me, and the only way I can get through my workout is by watching a riveting TV show or listening to a fascinating podcast to take my mind off the exertion at hand. And I think that’s okay, because at least I get the workout done, even if I don’t do it the way I “should.”

4. Stop procrastinating.

Procrastination comes from being out of sync with the present moment. It comes from distraction, fear, and laziness. When I tap into the now, I don’t want to procrastinate.

“I could work out, but I don’t wanna,” I think. And then I ask myself, “What will I do now, if I don’t work out?” and the answer is usually some variation of “sit around doing nothing,” an activity that I know will just make me feel bad and gross.

Procrastination is avoidance – not only avoidance of the thing you’re putting off, but also avoidance of your feelings and experiences in this moment. When I’m really in the now, I often find that I want to work out. My body is crying out for it.

5. The moment will pass.

Studying mindfulness has taught me that no one moment is unendurable. Moments go by. They give birth to new moments. And the new ones feel different from the old ones. It sounds obvious but it can be a revelation.

Sudden snack attack? I can breathe into it. I can choose to think about something else. I can remind myself, “I will not actually die if I don’t eat a bowl of chips right now.” And the moment will pass.

Tired muscles during a workout? I can breathe into it. I can choose to think about something else. I can remind myself, “This is difficult, but it will not kill me.” I can remind myself, “I did this last time. I can do it again.” I can remind myself, “I will feel so awesome when this is done.” And the moment will pass.

Look at my body in the mirror and hate what I see? I can breathe into it. I can choose to think about something else. I can remind myself, “Lots of people have called you beautiful.” I can remind myself, “It’s okay to have ups and downs.” I can remind myself, “My body is strong and can do lots of great things.” And the moment will pass.

All moments pass. All moments can be endured, if you just take them one at a time.

Extra resources: Leo Babauta has taught me more about mindfulness than anyone else. He’s got great articles on mindfulness rituals, beating a food addiction, forming habits, overcoming instant gratification, getting in shape, and lots more.