Fat Girl Slim: Chubby Chicks Have Sex Too, Sorry Not Sorry
Fat Girl Slim is a conversation dedicated to body positivity and reclaiming the aspects of our bodies which some parts of society deem unacceptable. Talking about the issues that effect everyone whether you’re tall or short, fat or thin. Here, #everybodyisbeautiful
I was at a high school house party when a guy I knew came out of the bedroom where he had just finished having sex with a friend of mine. He shared with us how embarrassed he was that he had just “fucked a fat chick” – he knew her name, but that’s what he called her.
He made a conscious, consensual choice to have sex with my friend – who was still getting dressed while he was in the other room fat and slut-shaming her to our friends – and yet he felt the need to justify such a choice as if it had been anything but pleasurable for him. He wanted to sleep with her, yet all he could see was the fat on her body.
This is true of so many people. Too many have this deep-seated block where they can’t see fat girls as individuals, with individual stories, because no one expects them to. Nothing in our culture, after all, indicates that fat girls might have sexual experiences as rich and varied as anyone else - as if they were normal people. It's a dialogue that we seldom have when talking about fat issues.
The big on-screen taboo
Our media landscape barely recognises the humanity of fat women, let alone their sex lives. It often likes to portray the sexuality of overweight female characters as a joke or sideshow: outside of porn’s BBW (Big Beautiful Women) category and fat fetishism, the horny fat girl is essentially nothing more than a visual punchline, a grotesque figure whose libido is comical. It reinforces the idea that fat women’s sexuality and desirability exist only as comedy, visible only to be ridiculed. So fat sex is either demonised or fetishised – either way, it has been turned into a taboo.
Only recently a new type of female figure has emerged, a larger woman who can own her sexuality without it being used as a punchline or having her sexual satisfaction come at a price.
Popular fat female characters like Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, The Heat and Gilmore Girls, Rebel Wilson in Pitch Perfect and How To Be Single, Mindy Kaling in The Mindy Project and Retta in Parks and Recreation are probably the ultimate examples of larger women whose weight is not a source of commentary or derision in regards to their sexuality.
But most people are still uncomfortable with viewing larger women as sex symbols, and the reaction to Gabourey Sidibe's sex scene on Empire last November is a stark indication. After the scene aired, a fat-shaming meme made the rounds on social media – it was a photo of Sidibe's love scene with actor Mo McRoe, with the caption "Damn some of you people can't even get a text back". Not to mention every time Lena Dunham would appear naked in a sex scene on Girls, critics would drown her in "nobody wants to see that" hate.
In Precious, Sidibe’s character doesn't even have any control over her own sexuality – she’s raped by her father, who ultimately gives her HIV. For some reason, however, the idea of her (a fat woman) having pleasurable sex is more shocking than her being sexually assaulted and violated. Do you see the problem, here?
Even in Shallow Hal, where the fat girl is, admittedly, a more sympathetic and likeable character, her physique is still played up for laughs. She gets the guy in the end, but only because he saw her as thin, hot Gwyneth Paltrow from the start.
Last year, during her acceptance speech for Glamour UK's 2015 Trailblazer of the Year Award, Amy Schumer - known for speaking the unapologetic, crass truth - said:
"I'm probably like 160 pounds right now and I can catch a dick whenever I want.”
Schumer’s highly NSFW speech may come across as just another one of her comic sets, but it's saying something much deeper. When it comes to sex, women – fat women in particular – have the power too. Her frankness is not only hilarious, but it’s empowering: she’s taking control of her sexual agency, noting that her weight doesn't make her less desirable.
The statement soon went viral, resonating with women who identify as bigger than society deems “attractive” but refuse to compromise our sexuality. Because, why should we?
It’s both unfortunate and untrue that thin equals sexually attractive, and vice versa, because attraction is totally subjective. You don’t find fat people attractive? Fabulous, don’t date them. But to assume that your lack of sexual interest in fat women must be universal – or that the mere existence of confident, sexually active fat women threatens your own desirability – is the height of narcissism.
Your lack of attraction toward fat women is totally valid, after all, who am I to tell you who you should or should not love/want to sleep with? But, when talking about a fat girl getting laid, or dating, your shock is inherently insulting, because the amount of fat that is or is not on my body in no way affects my sensuality - neither of which are any of your damn business.
Slim pickings (pun intended)
When talking about this with a (straight, slim, attractive male) friend, he couldn’t quite come to terms with the fact that my experience with sex was different than his. You mean you don’t have a slew of suitors waiting to get in bed with you? But how can that be? He then kept reassuring me that I’m actually not fat and my feelings and experiences shouldn’t at all be valid because I’m totes bangable.
I couldn’t blame him. How could he possibly know that I constantly worry that if a guy picks me up during sex all I can think about is that I’m probably too heavy and he will drop me/get a cramp? Or that I always include a full-body shot in my online dating profiles so my date isn’t blind-sighted by my body IRL (as if I’m somehow cheating them out of a valid date)?
It’s hard not have these thoughts when we have to scroll through countless profiles seeking “active” and “fit” girls (ie. “no fat chicks”) and live through a “fat girls work harder during sex” and “they should be grateful” rhetoric.
It’s a tired, overused trope that big girls are an awesome lay because they do all the work, and it’s the type of narrative that ultimately leads guys to think that having sex with a fat girl is charity, because we’re so desperate to get it that it doesn’t matter who we get it from, at least we’re getting it. And if a guy happens to like bigger girls, he's labelled a "chubby chaser". It would be totally unthinkable for a fat girl to get the guy, without there being an ulterior motive, right? It’s dehumanising, exhausting, and just straight up BS.
Screw the haters, figuratively
But all this doesn’t stop us from enjoying sex, nor does it mean we shouldn’t to begin with. We’ve simply been conditioned to think that we should experience it differently based on our body shape and size. And it's about time we flip the script.
Mindy Kaling put it perfectly in an interview with The Guardian:
"If I call myself a cute, chubby girl, the natural kind woman's response is, 'You're not chubby! You're beautiful! And thin!'
And I always want to hug the person and say, 'It's OK, I identify as someone who is cute and chubby – that doesn't mean I'm not worthy of love and attention and intimacy.'"
Even if we are totally rad and feminist and rise above the self-hate that trolls are spewing at us, sometimes we don’t like what we see in the mirror – and that’s totally normal.
Sharing your body with another human being is an incredibly vulnerable act that can bring out your insecurities, but know this: the one place you should never, ever be ashamed of your body is during sex. It’s the time to celebrate its ability for giving and receiving pleasure, which is pretty awesome if you think of it. In sex, size really doesn't matter.
Women – big, small and everything in between – are rapidly gaining control over their own bodies and their own narratives, which means they have more control over their sexuality as well. But beauty is just one of the battles in the war on fat-phobia. Aside from accepting and embracing their appearance, our culture has to learn to love fat women in all senses of the word, including recognising their sexual desires and agency.
I have finally come to terms with accepting that my body is so much more than what it looks like – having a fucked up spine due to scoliosis will do that to a person – which means I’ve learned to appreciate it despite the cellulite and stretch marks.
That means appreciating its sensuality, as well. I’m healthy and like to have sex, and why should that be funny or offensive just because my thighs rub together? I can assure you, once they’re open it’ll make no difference what size they are.
By Olivia Cassano, publish on 24/03/2016