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.

You Do Not Have to Be “Fuckable” to Be Valuable

(Quick note: this post deals with body image, weight, food, exercise, and insecurity. If those topics are triggering or troublesome for you, I encourage you to skip this post. Take care of yourself!)

I’ve been struggling with body stuff a lot lately, and it’s not fun. Counting my calories alternately seems to keep me sane or make me want to tear all my hair out. Looking at my naked body in the mirror feels unbearable some days and totally neutral on other days. My feelings toward food oscillate from toxic resentment to pure sensual love. It’s… confusing.

When I have feelings that trouble me, on any subject, I always do my best to get to the root of them – to figure out where they’re coming from and what can be done about them. Like most people (especially most women), my relationship to food and exercise is about so much more than just food and exercise: it’s about gender, and self-worth, and past emotional traumas, and bone-deep insecurities. So there’s a lot of excavating to do if I want to work it all out. But I think I came up with an important insight recently, and I’d like to share it with you.

Women are socialized to understand our beauty as our most important feature. More important than our intelligence, humor, interests, professional pursuits, or even our sexual talents, our beauty is supposed to be our ongoing project and most crucial prize. Our total value as human beings is ascribed to our appearance, and that does a lot of damage.

I have internalized the idea that not only am I required to be beautiful (meaning: conventionally pretty and thin), but I am required to be beautiful all the time. Just look at the beginning of practically any fictional hetero romance: whether it takes place in a cheesy rom-com, a staid period drama, or a twisted YA novel, the “meet-cute” typically hinges on the woman looking pretty and the man noticing.

I’m an avid consumer of romantic storylines, so it’s no surprise that this trope got so deep into my head, I guess. But it sucks, because now I go through life with the sinking feeling that any moment spent looking less than beautiful is a moment wasted, an opportunity squandered. As much as my higher intellectual self tries to squash this irrational feeling, some part of me is still constantly wondering if the lover of my dreams is somewhere in my vicinity, and if, were they to see me right now, they’d be interested or just walk right by me.

It instills a scary desperation, a constant uncertainty. The last thing I ate becomes a statement on my entire morality. The time elapsed since my last workout defines what kind of love I deserve. My ability to attract the attention of some handsome suitor becomes the single most important measurement of my value as a human being.

Of course, I know this isn’t really true. I know there is more to me than my face and my body. I even know that I’m capable of love no matter what size I am, because I’ve dated at my fattest and at my thinnest and no one has ever run screaming out of the room at the sight of my naked body. Far from it: I’ve had my curves praised, lusted after, worshiped.

But I’m single now, and shy, and anxious, so the worries creep in. And the result has become all too clear in recent months: food has lost its joy for me, because it mostly makes me feel guilty; I exercise out of obligation instead of genuine desire; and my guard is always up when I’m out. What do these people think of me? Do I look good enough to be in public right now? Am I performing “beautiful femininity” well enough?

Well, fuck that shit. I am valuable whether or not I’m “fuckable” and so are you. No matter how much your silly brain might try to trip you up, the fact is that different people are attracted to different things and so if your hygiene is acceptable and you’re a basically pleasant person to be around, someone out there will be into you. Promise.

But, beyond that, it also has to be said that being loved romantically is not the most important thing in the universe. Sometimes I get so caught up in desperate romantic wishes that I forget about the love I already have in my life: family, friends, passions, excitements, even my love for myself (which does exist, somewhere under all the layers of self-criticism).

Sometimes I watch the way men interact, and the kinds of things they talk about, and I realize that men are valued – and value themselves – for who they are and what they do, not what kind of mate they can or cannot attract. I need to reject the patriarchal paradigm which says I am only as valuable as the number of dudes who want to get in my pants. I do so much cool shit and I am so smart, funny, kind, clever and delightful. That should be enough. That is enough.

It’s still a daily struggle to figure out how to live comfortably in my body without upsetting my mind (or vice versa), but these revelations have been helpful to me. I breathe a little easier knowing my fears are unfounded and silly.

Have you battled similar thoughts and concerns around body image or romantic/sexual desirability? How did/do you deal?