Writer: Alysse Dalessandro | On July 30, Robbie Tripp published a now-viral photo in tribute to his wife, Sarah. The media was quick to proclaim Robbie a hero. Why? Because Robbie’s wife is “curvy”. Yes, those quotes are intentional and yes, Robbie actually went viral because he said he was attracted to his own wife — something I really would hope would be a given.
Sarah is not society’s beauty standard but she’s still a pear-shaped white straight woman with a flat stomach. She’s acceptably curvy in the way that she can likely still find clothes at the mall, she’s not likely to be told to kill herself on a daily basis, and she’s probably offended when people call her fat. But those are just my assumptions. And this really isn’t about her.
Speaking of assumptions, Robbie’s caption makes a lot of them. He assumes that all of us are straight (I’m not). He assumes that porn stars and models aren’t real women (they are). He assumes we are all just waiting for our Robbie (I’d rather die).
I really didn’t even want to give this man any further attention than he’s already getting but after reading opinions from thin folks telling me I should just get over this, I am here to say that I am not over this. Columnist Heidi Stevens wrote, “No infraction is small enough or utterly-inconsequential-to-our-lives enough to escape the rage” in her questioning fat folks justified concern over Robbie’s post. My issue here is that what Robbie said, how he was rewarded for it and how the corresponding discussion has direct consequences to my life and fellow plus size women.
When men like Robbie are rewarded for fetishization, this harms fat folks who are fighting to be treated with respect and it only serves to further the objectification of fat bodies. If you want to know how fat bodies like mine are objectified, I will gladly show you the messages I receive from complete strangers on a daily basis even though I dedicate time every single day to blocking the men who send me them. I get marriage proposals on my social media. Men that know nothing about me other than what I look like want me to be their “fat wife.” Men leave comments and send messages telling me the things they want to do to me sexually. They don’t ask. They tell. That’s not flattering. That’s terrifying.
When men consume fat bodies in this way, they do it from a sense of entitlement. Men learn they are entitled to women’s bodies and this is amplified with bodies that society does not deem beautiful. There’s a level of arrogance that says, “my validation of your body makes you beautiful.” And in our society where beauty is seen as currency, I can see why men think this validation holds weight.
I also understand that my assertion of confidence or self-love as a fat person is still something that surprises people. I understand that my declaration of worth doesn’t mean as much to some people. Some people may feel like I can’t just say it, I need a man’s validation to prove it. But do you know what is more empowering than a man validating your beauty? Proclaiming that you are a person who is worthy of love and respect all on your own. PERIOD. Without apologies. Because you are. You don’t need your Robbie because you’ve got yourself.
My humanity is in no way reliant on my desirability to men. I am not your curvy wife. I am not your baby. I am not your BBW. I am mine. My body is mine. I belong to myself. You being attracted to my body doesn’t make you special. I require the people in my life treat me like the whole person that I am. And just so we are clear, you respecting and honoring my experience as a fat person, but not treating me any differently, is a basic requirement for being in my life.