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Hey, Faggot: I'm a big girl sending you a warm, smoochy thanks for your excellent response to "Fat Lover" [Dec. 4], the guy who wondered why he couldn't get the large-size women he desired to date him. Bravo to you, first, for your statement that some fat women like their bodies, and for the well-phrased, "Fat people suffer for being fat, are ridiculed, made to feel grotesque and unlovable." Well-phrased because nowhere did you say, as so many small-minded assholes do, that we deserve that hatred or bring it upon ourselves (due to our lack of self-control, inability to lose weight, slovenly habits, poor self-image, etc.). Thank you for noting the crime without blaming the victim.

"Fat Lover" is what we in the large-size community call a "fat admirer" (FA), and many of us have very mixed feelings about these guys. You summed it up when you stated that nobody wants to be pursued solely for their physical appearance. No woman wants to be reduced to a chunk of meat. Because large-size women who seek relationships often meet with disappointment, rejection, and even disgust from those who cannot find it in themselves to accept and embrace a body that happens to look like a real, individual human female instead of a Cosmo fashion layout, many of us end up feeling like FAs are our only option. "Nobody out there loves me. Everyone's turned off by my body. Well, except Mr. Fat Lover. Hmmmm."

The answer? I'd like to encourage FAs to move beyond their fetish and toward loving women as people rather than bodies. I'd like to encourage big girls to never settle for a partner solely because he (or she) is willing to accept one's size. And I'd like to encourage everyone to start broadening their fuckin' twisted definitions of what is beautiful, what is desirable, and what is lovable. The real world has a lot more to offer than the pages of Cosmo do.

Fat in Seattle

Hey, FIS: If my response to "Fat Lover" didn't offend you, it was an oversight, I guess, because I do hold some of the beliefs you credit to "small-minded assholes."

While I certainly don't believe fat people "deserve" abuse, and I recognize that some obese people have medical problems, the vast majority of fat people are indeed responsible for their weight problems. Most fat people do "bring it (fat, not ridicule) on themselves." If a person is comfortable being fat, it's nobody's fucking business but their own. But that doesn't mean the rest of us have to pretend fat people aren't responsible for being fat in order to make fat people feel better about being fat people.

And while I think the bodies marketed in Cosmo and YM, and, incidentally, International Male, are unrealistic, I don't think ordering people to "broaden" their tastes is going to get you anywhere. Having been all over the world, I can tell you that there aren't nearly as many 300-pounders over there as there are over here, so the "genes" arguments don't hold up. The fact of the matter is that we North Americans simply eat too much and move too little, resulting in -- surprise -- lots of us being fat. Fat is something we do to ourselves, and we need to take responsibility for it. And if that's blaming the victim, well so be it.

Hey, Faggot: I am a large woman, and I thought it would be good for "Fat Lover" to hear a little from my perspective.

Fat women, as Dan pointed out, have been dealing with negative feedback for long periods of time. We know what it's like to walk into Victoria's Secret and get laughed at, so we tend to be really defensive. Many large women have given up on the hope of finding love altogether. Considering this, it's understandable that we would be skeptical when someone approaches us romantically. By accepting your love, FL, we are opening ourselves up to being hurt. It might take a little longer for a large woman to do that.

The only thing I can say is, "Be patient." Keep up with the compliments. Keep up with the support. Make her feel loved. Don't emphasize the "I love you even though you are a fat girl" thing, or "I love you just the way you are" stuff. I want to hear that you love me because you love my hair or my wonderful fashion sense or my stunning personality. Not because you are really understanding about my "condition."

Gwynn

Hey, G: I'm with you, but only to a point. When a fat person dates someone who "understands her condition," she's dating someone willing to overlook her weight, someone who loves her in spite of the fat. Wouldn't it be better to be with a guy attracted to you for who you are, inside and outside, rather than a guy who likes you enough to put up with a body that doesn't turn him on?

Often, it's a physical attraction that brings two (or more) people together. If the minds are compatible, they have the bodies to thank for the introduction. That's how it works for skinny people, kinky people, short people, tall people, etc. Why should it be any different for fat people? No one wants to be reduced to a "fetish," and if someone can't get over or past or around what is -- whether you're heavy or dominant or horse-hung -- one small part of everything you have to offer, dump him.

But if you really are comfortable being large, you should be OK with meeting men the same way skinny women meet men: shared physical attraction. Why should you settle for a guy who's always changing the subject, a guy who goes, "I love your, um, hair, your, uh, fashion sense, um, your spaghetti carbonara"? Wouldn't you feel more secure with a guy who said, "I love your big ass, baby!" and meant it?

Hey, Faggot: As an attractive, mature, confident fat woman, I may be just what the doctor ordered for "Fat Lover." If he included a name and address when he wrote you, I would really appreciate you passing my e-mail address on to this guy. I really have a problem with the fatphobia so rampant in the breeder community these days. The lesbian and gay communities, as usual, seem to be much more accepting of body shape and size.

KH

Hey, KH: I don't know where you got the impression that the gay male community is more accepting of different body shapes and sizes than the hetero community. While lesbian culture is generally more accepting, as lesbians spent the better part of the '70s examining the role body-image fascism plays in gender oppression, gay men spent the '70s screwing (and the '80s dying). We haven't quite got 'round to identifying the connection between Jeff Stryker and our own personal misery.

The "gay male body ideal" -- impossibly broad shoulders, vanishing waist, zero percent body fat, huge titties, washboard stomach -- is about as difficult to achieve as the straight female body ideal, and, it seems, it causes similar damage. Of bulimics and anorexics who are male, upward of 90 percent are gay men.

But that's not why you wrote: FL did not include a return address, but if he sees this, and would like to get in touch with you, he need only send me an SASE, and I will forward your e-mail address to him.

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