Writer: Alysse Dalessandro | Recently, I came across a click-bait piece of written garbage titled, “15 Thoughts Every Guy Has When Dating a Bigger Woman” that made me very angry. I wasn’t going to link to it here anyways because every click raises the profile and profitability of a piece that should have never been written in the first place but I am happy to report that thanks to the efforts of a group of dedicated individuals writing emails to the site where it was published, the piece was taken completely down. But I’ll sum it up for you because this fatphobic messaging is everywhere and combating it is important.
In the first three paragraphs plus size women are called “special snowflakes” and “pleasingly plump.” The author says things like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and “who are we to judge?” ironically before he writes a long-winded generalized heteronormative judgement about plus size women.
The author gives props to men who care about “happiness over appearances.” This assumes all of our partners are men and implies that a fat person could never also be attractive. I recognize that desirability is political and rooted in bullshit beauty standards, but it’s still so tiring to see fat and ugly used interchangeably when they don’t mean the same thing. This whole idea of “happiness over appearances” is insulting both to us as plus size women and also to the people who love us. And while it upsets me that our partners’ attraction and individual choice is questioned, it bothers me more that our humanity is never even considered.
The list itself is as bad as you would imagine. Fat women are great cuddlers. They make men feel more confident about themselves because obviously if they are fat then he is the more attractive one (even if he is also fat). They are funny. They are eager to please. They don’t get jealous and they never have a hard time picking where to eat. They are fat so obviously; they don’t have any likes or dislikes or thoughts of their own apparently about how a relationship works. They are just so-gosh-darn-grateful to have a date at all.
This list reads exactly the way society wants it to. It’s every fat funny single best friend trope rolled into one. And as an attractive, sometimes jealous, non-funny fat girl who always has a hard time deciding where to eat, I’m pretty over being lumped into these generalizations like I’m not an individual person. The author paints a picture of a sad fat girl just eagerly awaiting some dumpy dude to come along and bring her to a restaurant she didn’t even get to pick out. It all reminds me of the time I was told on a first (and last) date to “dress up” only to end up at Bennigan’s and where my date told me not to order the steak even though I had told him I was a vegetarian. I cringe now thinking back on it but bad dates happen to people of all sizes. That treatment was never a reflection of my worth and it doesn’t mean that’s all I deserve as a fat person.
On the same day I read this list, I posted an image from the artist Rachele Cateyes that read, “Fat Girls Can Do Whatever They Want” and someone posted a comment in response that read, “Unless it’s finding a decent guy to accept her as she is. That this fat girl can’t do.” I read it and my heart broke a little. Because this wasn’t some click-bait list-maker who believes every fat woman is a Rebel Wilson character, this is a fellow fat woman struggling to find acceptance where she should find respect, love, and mutuality. And my heart broke because I’ve been there. I believed that settling was my only option and that the attention of men would mean that I wasn’t the sad fat girl I was always assumed to be. I believed that having a man would prove people wrong. But it wasn’t a man who saved me or saw my worth. It was me.
I realized that the attention of a man does not and will not ever validate my fat existence. The most loving and caring partner does not validate my fat existence. I am valid with or without anyone else’s affections or approval. And you are too. Your partner should not tolerate or accept your body. They should love it because it’s yours and you’re pretty great and also, there is nothing wrong with your body.
As I read through the garbage listicle of one man’s misguided generalizations one last time before I try and erase it from my memory forever, I see a lot about a man’s happiness and nothing about yours. The author is definitely not going to say so I will: you, as a fat woman, deserve to be happy. Whether on your own or in a relationship, your needs as a fat woman are valid and asking someone to meet them doesn’t make you needy. It makes you human.