Fat girls are not meant to find love. Romance is for skinny, pretty (usually white) girls. Look
at any ‘chick flick’ or romcom since the beginning of time and it is always the conventionally
beautiful, popular girl who manages to secure ‘the one’. Fat girls are either the best friend
or the loser (often times both). If we are the centre of a love story, it’s in a comical, ironic
kind of way. A fat girl finding love is the plot twist because it deviates from the norm.
Representations like these are important for shaping our view of how marginalised groups,
including fat women, experience love. And this is not just romantic love. This manifests in fat
women’s experience of love in all forms, from familial to platonic to romantic. Because
being fat means we have to spend the majority of our time proving that we are worthy of
love and affection. Whether it’s trying to become the refined, well-kept daughter mum
always wanted, to settling for the man who would love you more if you just lost a few
pounds.

All women are sexualised. Thin women are hypersexualised and idolised. Fat women are
hypersexualised and fetishized. We are sexual but not sexy. Often men want to sleep with
us just to say that they’ve tried ‘it’. That ‘it’ being fat. Try us once but never continue the
experience. “Well at least you can say you slept with a fat girl!”. As if we are a category that
can be ticked off a list. It’s either the guy that wants to try us once or the guy that is too
scared to love us in public. You’re happy to take over our bodies in the confinement of a
bedroom, but when it comes to displaying the same admiration in public? Invisible. Loving
fat women is a conquest. But it is also a secret conquest.

It never fails to amuse me that people are shocked when they find out fat women have
sexual desires. Female sexuality is taboo in itself, but there’s even more shame associated
with fat female sexuality. In a society that is constantly telling us to suppress ourselves, and
one that portrays our actions as disgusting, the idea of fat women not only having, but
enjoying sex, is unthinkable. Especially when you consider all the baggage sex alone holds.
Fatness holds the same baggage, so it’s like a double whammy. A double whammy of
baggage + shame = bad idea. But sex is not a bad idea. Sex is a great and important part of
life and fat women deserve the freedom to express themselves as free, sexual beings.

The societal obsession with women’s bodies has trickled down into the dating sphere, so the
body can easily become the centre of a relationship. I’ve met many men that have made it
very clear that they’re more interested in my body than they are in me as a person. I then
find myself having to ‘perform’ my body in order to live up to men’s expectations of how
they think fat bodies should operate sexually and romantically. My bigness is automatically
more sexual than someone else’s thinness. You cannot miss my huge things, or my big bum,
or my double F boobs, therefore I am never just me. I am always me in the context of my
‘curves’. This is extremely tiring, and often makes it harder to be content in my body as
rarely is my mental space allowed to be occupied by things other than my body.

We have been fed the narrative that women must accept all kinds of men. I always used to
wonder why it was ok for a woman to say she prefers ‘chubbier guys’ but men could never
extend the same preference to women. Women must always be accepting. We are taught that we must take what is given to us without asking questions. Nowhere has this manifested more than it has in heterosexual dating. Somehow, we can skip past a man’s
exterior so not to judge them based on looks alone. We should be judging people for who
they are and no what they look like. You should love someone not despite what they look
like, but regardless of it. But why is it not the same for women? If I had a pound for every
time someone said “she’s quite pretty for a big girl” or “I actually don’t mind if a woman has
a bit of meat on her” I’d be on a yacht somewhere in the Caribbean right now. There is so
much pressure on women to be perfect for men, yet the bar for men is so low that simple
preferences brand women ‘picky’ and ‘high maintenance’. And if we happen to find a man
who is accepting of our imperfections, then they expect us to hand them a gold medal. No
wonder dating as a heterosexual fat woman is such a chore.

We teach girls that their worth is based on how they look, so if they don’t fit the very
defined societal expectation, then they are not worthy of love. This has a huge impact on
how we tackle relationships. If you don’t feel like you belong somewhere, chances are
you’re not going to stay. As well as shame, there’s always been a cloud of embarrassment
hanging over me because I don’t feel like I ‘fit’ into romantic relationships. With this, I often
find myself over performing my body, almost like using it as a blanket to hide deeper
insecurities. If men cannot see past my fatness, then why should I?
You may think my body is too much to handle, but that’s just the beginning. My body is one
thing, my mind is another. Only the most powerful can support both. You may try to
separate the two, but I am whole. Fat women are whole. If you cannot see my soul and all it
has to offer, then you do not deserve my body.
I am not too fat for love.

 

Written by Maria Christodoulou  – @MaaazC28xo

Illustrations by Kat Muir  – @km_illustrations