BStu on Being a Fat Admirer

So, you all know BStu, right? He comments here frequently, and he has his own fat blog, Red No. 3, which you should check out.

In addition to being a fat acceptance advocate, BStu is also a Fat Admirer — i.e., someone who’s attracted to fat people. (Which is a way different thing from being a fat fetishist, btw.) In this society, that’s a pretty radical thing. I mean, duh.

So the other day, a troll who’s plagued him for ages showed up over here to “out” him as an FA — by way of explaining to us all why he’s a passionate supporter of fat acceptance. It’s because he’s a chubby chaser! He just wants every woman to be fat, so he can fuck them all! Or something like that. The fact that he’s completely open about being an FA didn’t stop her (or “her”) from trying to use that information like a bullet: Ha ha! Brian digs fat chicks! Loser!

That inspired me to ask BStu to write something about being a Fat Admirer that I could post on my blog, because frankly, I don’t know much about that sexual orientation — which is exactly what it seems to be. (Both BStu and this guy describe recognizing their attraction to fat girls at a very early age, and knowing it made them different — but it just was what it was.) I knew FAs existed, but he’s the first one I’ve ever interacted with (to my knowledge). The guys I’ve dated have generally been of the “I prefer a woman with a little meat on her bones” school, but that, too, is a whole different thing.

BStu obliged with a fantastic post that you can read on my blog or his, but I want to highlight a couple of his excellent points here.

One of the toughest things about being an FA is the some of the harshest receptions you’ll get come from fat women. Fat hatred is so extraordinarily internalized by fat women in our culture, the idea of a guy thinking they were beautiful just couldn’t be reconciled.

This kills me, though it doesn’t surprise me one bit. Internalized fatphobia is a powerful force, and I know a lot of fat women who suffer from this “I wouldn’t want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member” syndrome. I’d also say it’s responsible for why I, as someone who’s pretty well versed in fat studies, know diddly shit about fat admirers. What I do know are a lot of fat women who are, as a rule, suspicious of anyone who finds them attractive — and not without reason. They fear being reduced to fetish objects, being treated like crap by guys who think they can get away with it because fat women are taught to believe they have no other options, or finding out it was all actually a big joke. As BStu ably demonstrates, this culture simply does not allow for a perfectly normal, healthy, attraction to fat people — and no one’s more aware of that than fat people themselves.

Not to mention, some FAs are just dicks:

I mostly weathered this without falling into “Nice Guy” traps, thankfully. Still, a lot of FAs don’t. A lot of FAs keep hating themselves. They think its wrong to be attracted to fat women. They buy into the cultural hate as much as anyone. Others waste energy trying to be a “white knight” pretending they can undo years of social conditioning just by telling a woman that she’s beautiful. Or worse, they grow to think fat women owe them something for their affection.

I would argue that the last two examples issue more from a perverse sense of male entitlement that’s familiar to women of all sizes, but then, a sense of entitlement itself often issues from a desire to take your own insecurity out on other people. And FAs are given plenty of reasons to be insecure about their attractions. Meanwhile, fat women have plenty of reasons to be wary of the white knights and the guys who think they’re doing Fatty a favor. Even with my little, fairly low-traffic blog, I get e-mails and comments all the time from guys saying, “But you’re pretty! I like women with a little meat on their bones! There’s nothing wrong with you!” Yeah, thanks, dude — my boyfriend agrees completely, and also, way to miss the fucking point. (Better still are the ones that say, “But you’re not fat! You’re pretty!” I’m both!) There are a lot of men out there who have an obsession with “boosting fat women’s self-esteem” — and getting hero points for it — but they don’t take the trouble to actually select fat women who have low self-esteem. They just assume that all fat women will be pissing themselves with gratitude for any attention. And nobody wants to date that guy. (Parenthetically, you’d better believe I’m gonna rant my ass off about the trailer for the new Dane Cook movie, just as soon as I can stop sputtering incoherently.)

So, since finding fat aesthetically pleasing is regarded as sick and freakish, fat admirers end up hating themselves and fat people end up too suspicious off fat admirers to date them — how fucked up is that? People could be falling in love and screwing like bunnies left and right, but they don’t get to, because they’re trained to hate their own bodies and attractions. And man, even if I weren’t already a fat acceptance advocate, I would be staunchly opposed to anything that gets in the way of romance and hot sex.

BStu points out that the internet is changing things, helping people both connect and better understand the difference between fat admiration and fat fetishism. That’s hopeful. But I’m not going to hold my breath for things to get easy for fat admirers any time soon.

Thanks for the insights, BStu.

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36 Comments

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36 responses to “BStu on Being a Fat Admirer

  1. Kate217

    I know that this was already in motion before my comment, but I’m going to take credit for it anyway. 😉

    Thanks to you both for a thought-provoking post.

  2. Kate Harding

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that Kate217 is ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE for this post. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Guest Blogger BStu: “Differently Straight” « Shapely Prose

  4. Melissa McEwan

    A lot of FAs keep hating themselves. They think its wrong to be attracted to fat women.

    Because women are a currency, whose beauty conveys value onto the men to whom they belong, there are undoubtedly a lot of men who feel it lowers their status to be seen with a fat woman, too.

    From personal experience, I can say that closet FAs who suppress their attractions for purposes of status are easy as shit to spot. They’re the corporate guys with the impossibly thin wives who cannot. stop. staring. at. my. body. Their eyes are on my tits when they talk to me, and they’re on my ass as soon as I turn away.

    (And I can’t even begin to explain how obvious someone has to be while doing this before I notice it. Mr. Shakes is constantly amused by how I never notice guys looking at my tits or hitting on me. I’m one of those clueless “He was so nice and helpful!” doofs.)

    I used to work with a guy who would literally gawk at my boobs while he talked to me. I constantly had to snap my fingers next to my head and say, “Eyes up here, Jim!” You’d think that would embarrass him, but no. I hated talking to him. He would also constantly play with his balls while he talked to me, too–ugh.

    Anyway, he had a bony thin wife (who was quite genuinely a stunning woman, but so thin and completely flat-chested), about whom he constantly bragged. But even as he introduced me to her the first time, he was staring at my boobs! It was pathetic, truly.

    He was a fat guy himself. It was always completely evident that he considered his wife–and, specifically, her appearance–a statement on him. I felt desperately sorry for her, and I hated him more than I can really express.

  5. This is wonderful stuff, including BStu’s original post. I didn’t know there was a label for it, but yeah, count me in as an FA. At least for women. Men I like more muscular, but I’m shallow that way.

    Sort of along these lines, I’m a lesbian, a transsexual, and I haven’t had any genital surgery. The wife loves me and thinks I’m sexy as hell, and the equipment doesn’t even enter into it for her. She likes me, all of me, and not in the creepy fetish way some men have for chicks with dicks.

    But I’ve had some experiences that weren’t so positive. Some years ago I’d just left my girlfriend and figured I’d give the bar scene a try. So I went to Sue Ellen’s, hung out, danced, drank, and got grabbed by someone and dragged around to meet people. One woman liked me a lot, bought me a beer, kissed me. Before that went any farther, I told her about my checkered past. She was a little weird about it, but not massively so.

    Our next date? She’s a lot more weird about it. What it came down to in the end was that she was too worried about what her friends would think if they knew she was dating a tranny. Apparently they’d think she was really desperate. We parted ways amiably enough, but I was mad about it later. I am not a desperation fuck. I am not someone you settle for.

    I’m sure you know the feeling.

  6. I think that’s one side of it, Melissa. Probably most for the guys who stick in the closet. I figure there are two kinds of closeted FA’s. Guys who’ll come out eventually, and those in it for the long haul. The long haul ones are the guys who the very thin wives who go online and whine about how awful it is to be them. They are the guys who might date a fat woman, but make sure no one in their own life ever finds about it. They insist that they are right to pull this BS because other people won’t “understand” or won’t accept them. It is just a status thing for them, but often they are selfish enough to put their shame on someone else by “dating” in the closet.

    There is another way some men feel its wrong to like fat women, though. These men feel guilty about it rather than ashamed. I think this is a smaller group, but it definitely exists. They believe everything negative about being fat and think its wrong of them to feel this way. They are more likely to think of the preference as a fetish and this becomes self-fufilling a lot of the time. They don’t just see their desires as unfashionable, but they really think it would be harmful for them to act on it. Its obviously a pretty screwed up mind-set, but obviously this kind of response to sexual desire is not unheard of.

  7. I forgot to mention, but this fits nicely into the way white Protestant Christian straight men are the definition of what is normal. There’s black and brown and tan and then there’s normal. There’s fat, and then there’s normal. Gay. Bisexual. Transwev. There’s normal, and then there’s Other.

    What I want to do is make the definition of “normal” include a whole lot more people. Fat people. Fat admirers. Brown people. Black people. Lesbians. Bears. Queens. Drag kings. Und so weiter.

    Knowing that you’re normal, that you’re not Other, is a big important thing.

  8. Meowser

    I’ve been asked whether I can realistically expect every man to be attracted to fat women. To which I answer, “I don’t really care if every man does or not. I just want the ones who do, not to be treated like circus freaks or perverts.”

    I want my guy to be able to take me to dinner with his boss and not have my guy denied a promotion because of it. The boss doesn’t have to want to fuck me. (In fact, I’d really prefer he didn’t, truth be known.) I’m lucky I’m with a guy who thumbs his nose at that kind of yuppie bullshit, but still.

    I want a world where Leonard Nimoy can take pictures of us and it doesn’t have to be cleared up for the New York Frigging Times that he’s not one of those deviants who gets a giant woodie over fat chicks. If the pictures had been of thin women, of course he wouldn’t have been asked that question, because it would be assumed that a Real Man would want to fuck them. Gah. Either way the pictures exist and the people who do find them a turn-on get to enjoy them that way, so really, why should it even be an issue?

  9. Arkades

    Word to the nth degree, Moira.

  10. DBK

    Off on a tangent, I know, but Melissa’s comment reminded me of my girlfriend in college. I’ve never been especially attracted to big boobs, but she had a relatively large pair of breasts and she would often complain to me about how men would stare at them when she was talking to them. That might have been one of the reasons she liked me: I thought she had beautiful eyes. Anyway, the point is, I never quite got it back then. You know, you’re young, you don’t deal with the problem except as someone describes it to you, so you don’t get it. Also, no life experience to speak of to make you sympathetic. Anyway, it was years before I got it. I get it now. Now my thing is, I don’t get guys who stare at women’s breasts when talking to them. I find that weird. I have to wonder: are they memorizing the details so they can whack off to the memory later?

    My wife’s a bit overweight. Always has been. Never cared about that one way or the other. Love, ya know? You love someone and you love what they look like, too. It’s all one package. You go loving someone and marrying them but hating the way they look and you wind up with problems.

  11. Lya Kahlo

    “I’m one of those clueless “He was so nice and helpful!” doofs”

    Melissa – i am so there with you. Back in the day, I ALWAYS miss took guys hitting on me for their just “being nice” because it was unthinkable to me that any guy would want me.

    Looking back, and having spoken to some of them since, it’s become abundantly clear that I missed out on a lot of action* believing that tripe.

    *- not exclusively sex

  12. Bears.?
    Now that’s weird man. Unless you come from Siwash country like I do. Then you worship them but don’t want to do them. That shit could get you casterated from the neck down real quick like.

  13. Being not only fat but a cripple (I exaggerate – I walk with a cane sometimes and when I don’t I have a very noticeable limp), I can count on two fingers the number of people of either gender who I’ve felt were legitimately attracted to me – people who didn’t excuse the fat or the limp, but embraced them. There was one guy who loved my boobs but didn’t give a shit about me, but I was 16 and stupid and had low self-esteem, and I was desperate to have my first kiss, so I settled.

    I’m really loving these posts, and I’m so glad you’ve come on board here at Shakesville, Kate Harding!

  14. Mr. Grumpy, I meant these bears. Not these. 😀

  15. I’m reminded of the “hogging” story from last year, with the young jerks who would hit on fat girls in hopes of getting an easy score. One of the guys actually sounded kind of tragic in the interview. He admitted he was turned on by fat women in general — but he knew he wasn’t “supposed” to be. And so he turned his hate outward, and ended up hurting the women he was attracted to.

    All because “everyone knows” that fat people aren’t attractive. Including fat people. We know it better than anyone.

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  17. Kate217

    I’m one of those clueless “He was so nice and helpful!” doofs

    I honestly feel sexually invisible. I had to laugh at my friend Shannon one day when she said “if you think that men don’t notice you, you’re delusional!” I love Shannon. 🙂

  18. I am always afraid to allow myself to notice if someone is flirting because I fear they might be one of those nasty assholes who are trying to bait the fat chick or think it is easy to score with the fat chick. The last time I let me guard down, I did get lucky to find someone who was a FA. Unfortunately, he also felt it his duty to spread the love around to multiple fat chicks at the same time without clearing it with his primary fat chick (aka me).

  19. I never really noticed I was fat so much (although I got heavier gradually) but once I turned forty, all of a sudden, “fat and old” started to feel like I wasn’t ever going to be sexy again.

    I have a profound distrust of fat fetishists; I think a lot of fat chicks do. It feels dehumanizing. But I know, logically, that I’m likely to be with a guy who digs bigger women, just as I’m likely to be with a guy who digs tits, just as I’m likely to be with a guy who likes big brown eyes. Because I iz those things. Still, I deal with a profound ambivalence about soliciting that attention, i.e. by signing up for something like bigcupid.com.

  20. nightshift66

    In an ideal world, we would like/love the intrinsic characteristics of people: their character, humor, intelligence, and so forth. I suppose carried to its logical conclusion, that would make us all ‘omnisexual,’ since the physical traits would be irrelevant whether they were body type, gender, or body history.

    Of course, that happy day ain’t coming. And since the topic here is FA, I’ll stay on that rather than diverge to other forms of grouping. I’ve never had a long-term relationship with a woman who wasn’t at least a size 18. Not sure what that says about me, other than weight certainly isn’t a ‘deal-breaker.’

  21. Melissa McEwan

    All because “everyone knows” that fat people aren’t attractive. Including fat people. We know it better than anyone.

    Totally. Because Mr. Shakes and I met online at a site that wasn’t specifically a dating site, we didn’t know what the other looked like when we started speaking. At first we were just friends, and I sent him a couple of pictures, without particularly caring what he thought, because he didn’t need to care what I looked like to carry on a conversation about literature or philosophy or which Star Wars film is the best one. And then one day he told me he was falling for me (as I’d been for him), and I suddenly had this urge to make sure he knew I was fat, really fat, disgustingly fat. Unlovably fat. The idea that he could care about me only to reject me when we met was so unbearable that I made myself into a monstrosity, half in the hopes he’d bugger off, I guess. Instead he said, “I wouldn’t give a shit if your mind were stuffed inside a Dalek, woman! But as it happens, I find you extremely attractive.”

    Something about that was perfect. I think it was the part where he didn’t say, “I wouldn’t give a shit if you were a ________________” and filled in the blank with the most hideous example of humanity his mind could conjure. (You know, like “fat hunchback with a pegleg” or one of those things people do.) He didn’t deny others’ beauty or put it on a sliding scale to make me feel beautiful; he went for a robot joke. And that was so uncontrivedly charming.

  22. Rose

    My husband is 6′ tall and 330 lbs. I didn’t “know” I was attracted to fat men until I fell in love with him. There hasn’t been one day in the over 12 years we’ve been together where I found him anything less than a beautiful man.

    I think I find him more attractive than he finds himself. I’m 5’1 and 135 lbs, when my weight creeps over 150(since my teens my weight has fluxuated between 98 – 170!!), he’s less attracted to me!

  23. Fetishizing fat is dehumanizing. What I think is important to see, though, is that there is a LOT of room to admire and appreciate something before it is fetishized. Physical appreciation is something thin people get to take for granted, but I don’t think that because it is evident with fat people that this should make it off limits. A man preferring fat women, even exclusively, is a great thing. I can’t tell you how many fat women I’ve seen talk about what a difference being with an FA makes as far as the physical side of the relationship. That you can tell when a man is really into you. They talk of an eager and joyful expression of physical lust and more than a few have said that they exclusively date open FA’s. Fat admiration and appreciation shouldn’t be seen as even hinting at a fetish. I get why it often is, but we’ve got to change that. Its just a way of privileging the “normal”. I admit that a lot of the problem of perception is something FA’s and fat activists have both done little to change and a lot to encourage, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms I’m not opening up today.

    I will say, though, that at least for me I have a reverse response to the “I’d never date an FA” attitude. I’d never want to be involved with something who felt that way, so it works out. Its almost insane, but I’ve actually been attacked for having the gall to not want to date anyone who doesn’t want to date me. Indeed, attacked by the people who just said that they’d never date someone like me. The feeling isn’t allowed to be mutual, which seems just absurd to me and I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it happen on more than one occasion. My reasoning is that I don’t just want to be with a fat woman. I want to be with someone who accepts her body and in turn accepts a man who would appreciate her body. If that isn’t what she wants, then I don’t really care what she looks like. I wouldn’t be interested. I’ve been there. I’ve been with women who didn’t accept their bodies. With women who didn’t like that I wanted to embrace them and admire them. Growing up, I honestly don’t think it even occurred to me that there was an alternative. But then I found out that there was. And like the fat women who exclusively date FA’s, I would exclusively date women who are accepting and want to date FA’s.

    Man, I talk to long on this subject, don’t I? I could probably right a book about the FA experience, though I apologize for my seeming attempts to do just that.

  24. I’m not a Fat Admirer. I like women.

    Just so happens that some of the women I like most are athletic, and some are fat. One of the most sexy I know happens to be fat, and a few of the most intelligent, funny and fascinating I’ve worked with are plump. I mean they’re overweight, Norm. Wouldn’t *dream* of being seen with them in public.

    Except for the, you know, funny, sensual, intelligent bit. And they’re married. Dammit.

    Now my thing is, I don’t get guys who stare at women’s breasts when talking to them.

    Heh. Sometimes I haven’t even realised what I was looking at at the time. I’ve found myself staring anywhere but at a person’s eyes while trying to compose a reply and then realising “Dude, you’re ogling her chest”. And then there was the time I starting looking back again and again to try and figure out what was wrong with a t-shirt message (It read “Die, OK?” in the Diet Coke font) only to be accused of staring at tits again (Hi, Bwenda!)

  25. Melissa McEwan

    My reasoning is that I don’t just want to be with a fat woman. I want to be with someone who accepts her body and in turn accepts a man who would appreciate her body.

    Right on. I know a woman who can’t believe it doesn’t make me feel bad that Mr. Shakes calls me Chunkles, Chubbs, Chubbles, Tubbs, Tubbles, Jubblies, Jigglies, and all sorts of silly names that reference my weight. But of course it doesn’t make me feel bad! It’s affectionate. Why would I feel bad if I like the way I look and so does he?

    Meanwhile, she sleeps with make-up on because the one time her husband saw her without it, he made a nasty comment about how bad her skin is.

    I can’t even tell you how out of there I’d be.

  26. Meanwhile, she sleeps with make-up on because the one time her husband saw her without it, he made a nasty comment about how bad her skin is.

    Ew. Ew ew ew ew ew. That’s revolting. I don’t understand how people even think that it’s okay to talk to their spouse like that.

    Liss, I totally understand. My wife is a fat black woman. I see that; I love her for who she is, not in spite of it. That “Oh, but I don’t see you as _____” thing just means that they’re not seeing you but the you they want you to be in their heads. Mr. Shakes loves you. Which is as it should be.

    I was still blown away by the arc in The Vicar of Dibbley where Dawn French hooks up with the accountant. There was no hinting around, no qualifiers, he just thought she was sexy, full stop. It’s not something I expected to see, and I doubt I would see it on American television.

  27. Meowser

    I think a lot of women say they wouldn’t date a fat admirer when they really mean they wouldn’t date a fat fetishist. “Admirer,” to me, is a happy. It means that in addition to digging my brilliant mind you love my bodacious curves too. “Fetishist” means all I am to you is a body and if I happened to “incidentally” lose weight you’d be outie like your bellybutton.

    It’s not that hard to tell them apart, really. If five minutes after I meet someone all he can talk about is how much he loves my ass = fetishist. If he waits until we’ve had a bunch of scintillating conversations and we’ve moved on to doffing articles of clothing in private before he tells me he loves my ass = admirer.

    But then too, a lot of women are suspicious when they see personal ads or whatever stating that a guy is looking specifically for a fat chick, because too many of us have run into guys who think “fat chick = easy lay,” or “fat chick = slumpbuster.” Feh on slumpbusters, though. I think those guys enjoy their rolls in the hay with fat chicks way more than their peer group will allow them to admit.

  28. That’s definitely the problem, Meowser. That fat admiration is seen as synonymous with fat fetish. Doesn’t help that what fat fetishists exist rarely respect the difference in nomonclature, themselves. But yeah, they are generally easy to spot. Especially online. They inevitably start playing the numbers game right away.

  29. withoutscene

    Kate thanks so much for posting this and asking BStu to write about fat admirers. My master’s thesis (which I’m slowly turning into a manuscript) was on fat admirers and my dissertation will be a sort of offshoot about how fat women experience and negotiate romantic and sexual advance. And I sometimes, strangely, feel like fat-acceptance people think my focus on fat and sexuality is a weird choice or one that’s not really as helpful for fat-acceptance. I think that is this same mistrust manifested. Of course we don’t have to be adored by men to be worth something, but romantic and sexual experience and how our perceptions and feelings guide those things is really important in my opinion.

    Anyway, enough tangent. I just wanted to say thanks because reading about this makes me feel like my work might mean something to the fat-acceptance world AND the academic world.

  30. Kate Harding

    Withoutscene I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I cannot wait to read your work, as soon as you’re ready to make it available!

  31. You’re totally right Withoutscene and I’m also intrigued to see your work. Fat sexuality is not about suggesting women need men (or other women; there are lesbian FA’s after all). Really, its about the ways our culture disenfranchises fat people from enjoying sex or romance. Not everyone has to want it, but the problem is that fat people are being denied it because our culture has placed it off limits by telling fat people they don’t deserve it and telling their potential admirers to be ashamed of themselves. I see a lot of valuable study in that denial, as well as the means with which fat women and FA’s have sought to reclaim romance and sexuality. I think there are a lot of interesting parallels with the gay and lesbian community on this, as well, as fat sexuality is very segmented off with exclusive events where fat people and FA’s can be safe to express themselves.

    I think the resistance you might see in “Fat Acceptance” has a lot to do with the conflicted relationship that has festered between FA’s and fat activists. Its a complicated history that I imagine you know something about it, but there is a lot of silence about it, too, so the resentment just festers. Within the movement, FA’s generally are seen as fetishists largely because powerful fetishists have been given free reign to define what it is to be an FA inside the movement. Basically, its all fucked up and I’m really unhappy with how FA’s aren’t engaged politically and have had their identity subverted in a manner harmful to FAs and probably more harmful to fat people. But as I mentioned before, whole ‘nother can of worms there.

  32. giscindy

    I was told one time that “Fat women are like mopeds. They’re fun to ride but you don’t want your friends to see you with one! This was from a guy who had two girls he was seeing. The skinny girl he went to dinner with and the fat girl who he saw after he dumped the skinny on off at home.

  33. Meowser

    Giscindy, that’s why we totally need fat chicks to get on their own damn side. It may not stop every case of abuse, but it’ll go a long way to prevent anyone from thinking she deserves abuse.

  34. Word on that, Meowser.

    I’ve never gotten to use my favorite FA defense. Guess its a shame that I’ve never gotten much flack about being an FA. It occured to me after reading another FA who got the common response of “You just date fat women because you can’t do any better.” I decided that my responses to that, if ever needed, would be:

    “No. I can’t do any better. I just mean that differently than you do.”

    Which sadly would probably just confuse the offending party who’d never catch on to my meaning, so I guess its just as well that I’ve never had ocassion to use it.

  35. BStu, Kate – this post and thread is absolutely fantastic. Thanks to both of you.

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