Sex on Friday

I'm a Fat Woman. Here's What You Should Know About Dating Me.

date fat girl illustration
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Dating as a polyamorous woman brings with it a lifetime's worth of misconceptions and jealousies. Add a few extra layers of fat to that experience, and things can get depressing real fast. As a non-single, fat, polyamorous woman, I can't tell you how often I've been questioned about my confidence, self-worth, who I am, and why I'm into what I'm into.

And I'm not the only one who feels this way. For anyone who's going to date a fat woman at some point in their life, here are some tips for not ruining your chances to get with all this.

Don't fetishize me

If literally the only reason you are interested in me is because I'm fat, you might want to take a step back and get to know a bit about me first. I don't mind if you tend to date fat girls, or really even if you get some specific pleasure from being with a fat woman -- but I don't need that to be the first thing you tell me about yourself.

Guys tend to do this in a reassuring way, I think. "I'm really into BBWs!" It's announced as if it's supposed to reassure me that they aren't going to take one look at me naked and run, I think? I don't need to be reassured. Or maybe it's meant to suggest some kink; like to let me know that he wants to feed me cakes and watch me weigh myself? Hey: I don't own a scale. If you care more about my weight than I do, we're going to have a problem.

Don't tell me I'm not fat!

This comes from guys who don't necessarily have a problem with my weight -- they just have a problem with fat people.

When you say, "But you're not fat!" Or worse, "Oh you're so (beautiful, smart, sexy, whatever) for a fat girl…" all I hear is how much you hate fatness.

I am fat. There is no denying that fact. When you tell me I'm not, what you are really saying is that despite my body size, I'm not all those horrible things you tend to associate with fatness. "You're not the kind of lazy, stupid, disgusting, [insert sizeist insult here] slob who I expect fat people to be," is not a compliment.

Don't make assumptions about my ex- (or current!) partners

Dudes tend to assume that I haven't dated a lot in my life -- or the opposite, that I'm always up for casual sex because I'm desperate for attention. They often come into a relationship believing that my past partners have been abusive or unfaithful, or that my current partner isn't interested in sex and that's why we're poly. Basically, that he's arrived to save me from my terrible, sad, fat life.

I have experienced sexual assault and trauma in my life. A lot of fat women have -- the ACE scores study suggest that at least some cases of obesity are biologically related to childhood trauma -- but I don't need you to psychoanalyze me, to explain to me why I'm fat, or to try and "fix" me somehow. I have a therapist, thanks.

Take me out

I got over guys who wanted to sleep with me but weren't willing to be seen in public with me a long time ago. I love Netflix and whatever as much as the next girl, sure -- but I also love art galleries and movie theaters and poetry readings! And yes, I even enjoy going out for a good meal if you can manage not to make a big deal out of it.

Can you? Let's have some fun already!

Be aware of my (dis)comfort

And don't invalidate my experiences as a fat woman. There are some places, some days, when I just don't want to interact with certain people or try to make my body fit into the world. Transit -- from buses and taxis all the way to airplanes -- can lead to downright hostile environments. I'm not likely to fit on most of the rides at the amusement park and the thought of eating a meal sitting in a rickety plastic chair puts me on high alert.

If I try to talk to you about fatphobia, about discrimination, about the challenges I face as a fat woman in the world, please don't try to comfort me by telling me people don't mean it, that maybe I'm misreading the situation, the the world isn't out to get me. Whether or not fat hatred is malicious, it's still harmful. Check your own issues with fatness before telling me to check mine.

Please don't try to lift me (but seriously, don't)

I don't know what the motivation is for guys who try to get me on their shoulders at concerts or attempt to lift me gently into bed. Are you trying to prove to me that I'm "not that heavy"? Or are you trying to prove to yourself how much of a manly man you are? Either way, it's annoying and uncomfortable.

This doesn't mean we can't try new and interesting positions during sex. But it does mean I expect you to avoid throwing my body around in the bedroom without my explicit permission. These sorts of acrobatics are best attempted without the element of surprise.

Speaking of consent…

I've had people tell me quite plainly that they just know I'm more willing to acquiesce to the sexual demands of a man because I'm fat; and obviously fat girls will do anything, because it's so hard for us to garner male attention.

Um, no.

Look, I'm comfortable with my body. I enjoy sex, I love meeting new people, and I think there is an incredible power in making intimate connections. I also enjoy boundaries and people who know what affirmative consent looks like. If there's an attraction between us, you'll know it, and whatever desires that sparks, let's talk about them. Don't just assume I'm all in because I'm sex-positive, fat, and sometimes femme.

Fat women aren't a monolith -- they're women. Human. We lead complex, often rich lives. The best way to treat a fat woman? Like the individual she is.

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Bex vanKoot is a fat queer feminist fatale who somehow always ends up reading the comments. Follow for feminist rants @BexvanKoot.