I'm a fat woman. But that doesn't stop me from attracting men who claim they aren't attracted to fat girls. Somehow, their gripes with fat women don't interfere with their desire to get down with my bad self.
And after all of these years, I still don't get it.
I've always been big, but after I stopped exercising and started stress-eating as I wrote, I piled on pounds. Two weeks ago, I was the opposite of shocked when my new doctor told me I weighed 256 pounds. Just a year ago, I would've sobbed at the thought of weighing this much, especially for the reasons why I do; but when I regained my weight, my self-esteem was and still is in good enough of a condition to make peace with it.
I had also made the sad assumption I would be less bang-worthy for being fat. I knew there were the "hoggers" out there who make a sad sport out of screwing fat women. The mere knowledge that hogging was a thing made me afraid to sleep around without being degraded, even if not to my face. After sleeping with so many people, I still couldn't fully shake the fear that I was being "hogged" in some way.
I made the mistake of taking people at their word. I thought being fat would be a turn-off and repel the right people. After all, don't fat-shamers go for thin people?
There are guys out there who are attracted to my appearance and my heart and just happen to have internalized negative beliefs about fat people. And by "fat people," I mean other fat people who totally aren't me, right? Wrong. Like every other prejudice, people are willing to let go of their reservations for someone they like. After all, we've all had friends who dated raging sexists or had relationships with them ourselves. I'm not saying it's right or cool; I'm just saying that they make exceptions without realizing it.
It's happened to me dozens times. But if there's one thing I've never wanted, it's to date someone who loved me for my personality while being disgusted by my body. The lowest I've ever weighed while old enough to date was 160, but for most of my life, my weight stayed between 200 and 230; I don't know what it's like to be small. At first, I thought I was doing something wrong and accidentally hooking up with people who thought I was ugly. And here's the kicker: the interest seems genuine. There they are, texting me hearts, asking me what I'm doing next weekend, and just generally treating me like a person they find attractive. Some have even gone as far as to thirst up my Facebook with messages.
As you can see by my picture, I am not considered conventionally attractive, a fact that has loomed over my love life ever since I started developing attractions towards others. So I don't get it, guys. Is this some kind of surreal joke? Am I being trolled? Where does their fat-loathing end and my big body begin? Are you desperate and I'm oblivious for ever being confused about this? Why are you asking me out and then getting shocked when I tell you I assumed you didn't like me? I don't get it.
Dating sites are where I've found the biggest batch of these kinds of guys. What I've learned is that there are many different ways one can have "no fat chicks" written all over a profile. That's because one can say "no fat chicks" in so many ways — anything that makes a fat girl look at a profile and think, Hmmm, maybe I should reconsider getting naked in front of this person... I'm talking about "Scumbag Fat Girl" memes, or worse, they'll put down fat acceptance and reduce everyone's attractions down to "just the way it is." Anything that gives me the impression that the person might be squicking out about my cellulite is the stuff that reeks of the "no fat chicks" vibe.
Sometimes, online daters would be oh-so-kind by sparing my time and explicitly stating they're not into my body type. They'll mention how they want a "slim" woman and maybe throw "no offense" in there to be polite. Often, they'll be more exact and say they prefer a "fit" woman who "takes care of herself." They'll do this in real life, too, by using the word "fat" as an insult. I've always enjoyed walking for exercise, but as a then-chubby girl, I understood what they were trying to say: they didn't want to date someone with more cushion for the pushin'.
Or at least that's what I assumed until they messaged me.
I can't tell you how many times I'll meet a guy who flirts with me, asks for my number, sends me text messages, and seems to be enthusiastically attracted to me. And then I end up being the fat woman next to someone saying something like, "Ew! She's so disgusting!" No, the "pig" they're talking about might not be me, but I'm not that much smaller than she is. And that's the thing: they never fat-shame me personally.
Men who admire me often use terms like "curvy" to describe my bottom-heavy shape. I wear my weight in a way that many people deem acceptably proportioned. For some reason, women with big bellies remain taboo in our society. Society took most offense to me being fat was when my belly protruded most. (To the fat-shamers who are "just trying to help" me: If you bashing my body for being fat were all about my health, don't you think it's pretty mean to make someone feel ashamed for having a health problem?)
Naturally, since I began running into guys like this, I simply had to ask what was going on. Their answers shocked me. When I asked guys online why they messaged me, they said they were attracted to me. When I'd bring up my clearly marked size and bring up something fat-shaming in their profile, they'd say, "Well, I understand that you're big, but you're also gorgeous." Out of curiosity, I made a point to meet a couple of these guy to discuss metal music over coffee on separate occasions. Both were students my age who attended different colleges; they seemed far from inept or desperate, so that stereotype goes out of the window. They said nothing insulting in relation to my size or anyone else's appearance and wanted to see me again.
As for the guys who do this to me in real life, all of them act like I've come to some erroneous conclusion when all I did was take their word for it. I've asked guys why they're into me when they go on about how girls who do yoga have the "best" bodies. They talked negatively about muffin tops, stretch marks, and fat women in general. This includes close guy friends who claimed to like me and even expressed interest in dating me.
The encounters followed a formula. When I told them I didn't want to be with someone who saw my appearance as simply "OK," they always insisted I got it all wrong and claimed to have no idea where I got my impressions from.
"That's not it at all!" they'd say to me as we stood outside of a bar or some other location we'd normally be hanging out as "just friends." Sometimes, it would be after deep conversations, a rib-ache-inducing laugh session, or possibly even a sloppy makeout session, when they'd say, "I think you're beautiful." The word "sexy" also came up after they listed my libertine attitudes, open mind, kindness, and other non-physical traits they liked about me. They'd go on to assure me that they always found me attractive on the inside and on the outside. They always seemed genuinely upset about the opinions I formed about them.
One of my guy friends even started tearing up when I gave him serious side-eye in response to his denial. I knew he was fond of me, so I hugged him and told him that by always talking trash about how ugly he thinks fat women are, he'd led me to believe he didn't want me. He eventually understood what I meant, but based on his actions, I assumed being fat was a turn-off.
So what gives? How did he have a problem with all fat women except me?
At first, I thought these men just weren't being honest with themselves and, as a result, me. But I was wrong — I guess they were being honest to some extent. To them, their jokes were just jokes. They didn't see how their comments about fat women being unattractive have anything to do with me. In their eyes, it was all a matter of fact that all bodies should conform to BMI standards to be considered healthy.
Though I relate to the indignation of other fat women I've spoken to, I don't get angry when I find myself listed in someone's list of exemptions. After all, they sort of did me a favor by letting me know how much they suck in advance. Sure, I might be nearly 260 pounds because I stopped exercising and started eating unhealthy foods, but the last thing I'll ever settle for is a person who "settles" for a woman my size.