Big, Sexy, & Unhealthy

By Tracy Renee Jones

After reading a post that appeared at titled “Why Do Big Girls Get a Bad Wrap (Big is Beautiful)” I felt the need to address a few issues. The piece sought to analyze societies feelings towards larger people; why do some people prefer large lovers and why others choose to overlook them as potential love interests. The piece was written in a neutral tone so as not to offend any reader. At some point in the comments section commenters began to debate over the difference between what is considered ‘thick’ and what is straight out ‘fat’.

I am a thick girl and often find myself caught in the middle of a description debacle. I have thick legs and wide hips. I’ve been a terrible disappointment to a few blind dates who broke the news to me that I “wasn’t big enough for them”, apparently my size 12 was anorexic. I consider myself always a few pounds (!?) off from the weight I would like to be.

Strangely enough, there are men who I’ve met that think they are scoring points with me by telling me that they “love to watch their woman” eat. Or that they would “like to fatten me up by cooking for me or taking me out to dine often”. Surely the screw face expression I gave them let them know that I wasn’t the slightest bit turned on by the concept of encouraged gluttony. Who does that!?

There is a campaign in place that promotes body acceptance of people whose body type is not considered ‘the standard’. I’m all for body acceptance for any group of people who fall outside of the currently acceptable norms EXCEPT for fat people. I know I”m gonna catch hell for this one but I could give a dam.

There is nothing sexy about being fat in my opinion; in addition being fat is just as much of a social burden as is being a smoker or a drug addict. Being fat is a contributing factor to so many personal health issues. If people justifiably don’t feel they should be responsible for providing health care for smokers and drug addicts once their lifestyle becomes a health risk then why is it okay for those same people to bear the burden of accommodating people that are only that way because they won’t back their asses up from the table. I support what ever mental health assistance is needed to over come ANY of these ill habits but I won’t contribute to the mass dissolution that these practices are merely ‘lifestyle choices’.

Large people cause a social burden by forcing the rest of society to accommodate their bulge. They require different housing arrangements, they require additional medical providers and specialists. People can get so big they are unable to move around and must then collect disability and with that comes special consideration for housing and other social programs. How much does it cost for those reinforced beds, for those required knee braces and electronic wheelchairs they use to zip up and down the aisle at Walmart? These things should be freed up to be more available for the vulnerable members of society that are not this way due to the poor choices they made.

To be clear, I am not talking about those that are heavy due to health (mental) issues. I’m talking about people who would be a healthier weight but for the fact that they stuff themselves with fatty processed foods and sit on their huge asses. But that’s mean of me to say, right? Fat people are fat because of some special reason and it’s not nice to point out that they hold some responsibility for the condition they are in.

I also understand the health risks involved in being overweight. I am a small woman and my height is not meant to accommodate being overweight. I’ve gained plenty of weight over the years due to either pregnancy or injury. There is nothing nice about my otherwise healthy knees giving out while I ascend stairs; I realized how serious weight can affect one’s health when I started wheezing and gasping for breath in my sleep. No sleep from tossing and turning due to back pain, cracking and popping joints when I moved the slightest bit and the realization that I was becoming a prisoner in my own body helped me become determined to drop the weight as soon as I was able.

The ‘fat liberation’ movement’s stance is that overweight people are targets of hatred and discrimination. Society also subjects obese women to more social pressure than obese men. Disregard and disrespect towards obese people can often be seen in media outlets as fat people are ridiculed or pitied. Fat people may feel discriminated against by the lack of equal access to transportation and employment.

Some people that champion the issues of fat people are also against those that ‘celebrate’ fat as a sexual characteristic. The movement argues that fat fetishism undermines social movements towards fat acceptance, through counter-productive objectification and dehumanization of fat people. They argue that often, many fat fetishists derive sexual pleasure from the immobility, disability, and/or helplessness of the fat person. Some people take issue with the fact that these fat people are further encouraged to gain weight for the pleasure of those who ‘love’ them.

Fat fetishism include those that find fondling an overweight person’s adipose tissue arousing. They may be aroused by the presence of a pannus or other hanging flaps of skin such as those on the thighs, arms, and back. Those who are attracted to overweight men may be aroused by a fat man’s larger breasts (a condition called pseudogynecomastia). A male fat fetishist may enjoy inserting his penis between the deep folds of skin on an overweight person’s body, and thrusting to orgasm in a practice similar to mammary intercourse. There are others that become aroused by the smell of mold within skin flaps or the scent of lover so large that she/he is unable to achieve proper hygiene.

There are several terms that refer to the roles adopted within the fat fetish culture. A feeder is an individual who feeds another person. A feedee may be characterized as an individual choosing to gain weight with the aid of a feeder. A gainer is similar to a feedee, but gainers generally seek to gain by their own hand, although they may welcome encouragement by an encourager. An appreciator is a fat admirer in the gaining community who is not interested in either gaining or encouraging, but is content to sit and watch those who do participate in gaining weight for the sexual gratification of themselves and others.

Immobility refers to the state in which someone has either given up walking and exercise in order to gain more weight quicker, usually by sitting in the same place without moving for days, weeks or months and eating nonstop. The person may become so weighted down by their body that movement is either impossible or impractical (such as extreme slowness or getting stuck in door frames).

Although this may not meet the requirements of a sexual neurosis, one thing became clear to me while researching this subject. Some men maybe aroused by fat women for one of two negative reasons A) it makes them feel in control of another human being and B) these men get off on the humiliating aspect of obesity (they are sadists).

I do want to point out to the women who think they are being ‘admired’ that they may be dealing with a set of anxieties and psychological pathologies within themselves and others, rather than aesthetic trend in beauty. This denial may be a fantasy that is being used to escape low-self esteem and their own masochist impulses. Fat acceptance doesn’t seem as much of a celebration once you dissect some of the motivations behind the ‘BIG IS BEAUTIFUL’ spiel.

Am I writing this to be a mean old bitch? Nope, although I’ll be accused of such regardless. I write this to highlight the ways in which being overweight may not be in anyone’s best interest and to highlight the ways in which we can sometimes trick ourselves into believing that unhealthy actions are perfectly normal.

I realize that healthy food is not always readily available; like others I’ve lived in neighborhoods that had no easily accessible supermarkets. My solution was to take public transportation to the nearest one. The money spent on car fare was easily justified by the better options those supermarkets offered. I would walk to that same supermarket during the warmer months. And even if you can get no further than the neighborhood bodega, choosing to purchase and eat oatmeal or a non-sugary cereal with skim milk is a healthier and more affordable solution than that box of chicken you can cop at the Halal joint around the way.

My point is that people are much more responsible for the condition they find themselves in then they allow themselves to believe. No amount of clothes from Ashley Stewart can beautify a heart condition, nor the potential underlying self esteem problems big people may be experiencing. Rather than ask why does a man or woman choose or decline to choose to deal with a fat person as a love interest; I ask why does that fat person choose to not love themselves enough to take an interest in their health and their quality of life? If there is a missing love connection it would be between the person and themselves and not with those who do or do not choose to have them as a romantic partner.