A Brief Introduction, with a Side of Debunking
Fat people have sex. Sweet, tender, luscious sex. Sweaty, feral, sheet-ripping sex. Shivery, jiggly, gasping sex. Sentimental, slow, face-cradling sex. Even as you read these words, there are fat people out there somewhere joyously getting their freak on. Not only that, but fat people are falling in love, having hookups, being crushed-out, putting on sexy lingerie, being the objects of other people’s lust, flirting, primping before hot dates, melting a little as they read romantic notes from their sweeties, seducing and being seduced, and having shuddering, toe-curling orgasms that are as big as they are.
It’s only natural. Sexuality is part of the birthright that comes with having a body, just like sleeping and eating and breathing and stretching and wriggling with pleasure when someone scratches your back just right. After all, body size has nothing to do with whether or not it feels good to have that spot right between your shoulder blades scratched, and a good night’s sleep leaves you feeling restored no matter what number comes up when you step on the scale. Sex is not so different. We are physical animals, and sexuality is part of that. We’re only human.
Not only are we human, but we are legion. Technically speaking, about one-third of adult Americans are obese by the BMI-happy standards of the Centers for Disease Control. At a rough estimate, that’s about a hundred million people. Sure, this represents a wide range of people, from folks with a couple handfuls of extra junk in the trunk to the fattest among us, and it represents a wide range of experience. But the simple fact is that, wherever you have a hundred million people, there’s probably going to be a whole lot of sex happening, too.
Those are the facts. It doesn’t matter how much people love to tell us that fat people aren’t sexy or sexual. It doesn’t matter that the media—including most mainstream pornography sources—do their best to write fat people’s sexuality completely out of the picture, as if it’ll go away if we just don’t show pictures of it. A hundred million people don’t automatically become celibate just because their BMIs drift higher than thirty. That’s the bottom line. Fat people having a sexy time isn’t just a good idea: it’s flesh and blood everyday reality.
At the same time, sex can be complicated and difficult, a source of worry and shame, vulnerability and pressure. So can fatness. Sex and fatness have a lot in common, actually. Aside from the fact that you’re not supposed to have too much of either one—and if you do, you’re not supposed to admit it or, God forbid, enjoy it—they also both have a lot to do with appetites and desires, the body and our relationships to it, and our deep-seated emotional desires for acceptance and love. Put sex and fatness together, and it can open up what seems like a bottomless pit of issues.
That’s why this book exists. Like other people who don’t fit into the mainstream model of what is sexy or sexually desirable, fat people have their own particular set of issues surrounding sex. So do the people who tend to desire fat partners or who have, as so many people do, simply fallen in love with someone who happens to be fat. Some of the issues are the practical nuts-and-bolts of sexual activity: Is it safe for a fat woman to get on top? (Yes!) How can you do it doggy style and still keep weight off your bad knees? (Read and learn, Grasshopper.) What if you need a good comeback to some jerkola comment? (We’ve got those, too.) Of course, emotions come into play, too. Confidence, self-esteem, general self-acceptance, and accepting yourself as a sexual being are complicated for everyone, but they are all the more so when you live in a culture that tells you that none of those things should be possible for you because you’re fat.
This is not so much the kind of sex book that will offer you “Twenty-Five Top Tips to Make Her Orgasm Every Time” or “The Six Sex Moves No Man Can Resist.” Other sex books can fill you in on practical details, like X-marks-the-spot maps to the clitoris, step-by-step instructions to giving the world’s best hand job, and how to outfit an entire dungeon at IKEA. The Resource Guide at the end of the book has a hand-picked list of these kinds of things, all chosen with fat loving care.
What this sex book offers is something the others cannot: it understands from the inside the sexual issues that come up that are specific to being fat. The author of this book is fat, and the many different voices you will hear commenting throughout these pages—taken from interviews and a survey specifically conducted for this book—are all from fat people and from people who prefer fat partners. We’ve been there. We get it. We know. And when we say that it’s possible for a fat person’s love and sex life to be completely freaking fantastic, we ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie.
On that note, an aside about the f-word. Throughout this book, the word fat
is used in preference to the usual collection of euphemisms. It may be a little jarring at first—in our fat-hating culture it can be more shocking to hear someone use the word fat
than it is to hear them drop the other f-bomb. But both words are perfectly useful Anglo-Saxon monosyllables. Fat
is just a word, and a simple, accurate word at that. Unlike overweight
, it doesn’t imply that there is only one weight that is right. Unlike obesity
, it isn’t a medical term with particular implications about illness and disease. Fat
is just fat, like bald
is bald, short
is short, and green eyed
is green eyed. It just is what it is. And that’s okay.
That being said, not all fatness is alike. The degree to which different people are fat varies, and so do body shapes. The way fatness is perceived also varies from person to person and context to context. What would count as alarmingly fat in one subculture might be considered merely thick and luscious in another. Fat women are often not viewed in the same light as fat men. People end up with different baggage about fatness because of their ethnicity, their skin color, their sexual orientation, and their socioeconomic class. No one book could possibly reflect the full diversity of fat people’s lives, not even in a single arena. In acknowledging this, I apologize in advance if your specific experience with fat and sex is not mirrored in these pages. Unfortunately, there is no way everyone’s can be. Nevertheless, a lot of us do share experiences, and there are lots of things we can learn from other people’s perceptions, insights, and lives. Above and beyond that, there is the desire that so many of us share—the desire for more fulfilling, more pleasurable, and more joy-filled sex lives, no matter what size, shape, or weight we are.
To which I say: make it so! And to help you do it, we can start by debunking some of the old wives’ tales, urban legends, tall tales, and just plain old lies that our fat-hating culture loves to toss around about sex and fatness. Arm yourself against the misinformation and the lies with this roundup of common fat sexuality myths.
Myth: No one is attracted to fat people.
Busted! Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. It’s actually pretty common to be attracted to fat people. Or to be attracted to people, who come in many different appealing shapes and sizes. It is in fact pretty much universal to be attracted to people whose bodies may change, because change is one of the things bodies just do
. Fat is one of the things bodies can be. If you are capable of becoming attracted to a person, it is possible that you might become attracted to a fat person.
Some people are attracted to fatness itself and would be categorically turned off by anyone who wasn’t fat. Other people are capable of being attracted to a wide range of physical shapes and sizes and may, from time to time, find themselves being attracted to fat partners. It’s not uncommon for thinner people to get into relationships, gain weight as time goes by, and still find each other sexy. Many people get interested in someone for reasons having little to do with looks, size, or shape, only to discover—possibly to their consternation, but also perhaps to their delight—that they are attracted by physical qualities they had simply never considered before. There are many different ways in which someone can become attracted to a fat partner.
Size itself can be a turn-on. Just as some people are turned on by very petite bodies—they like the look and feel of smallness—there are people who are turned on by bigness. Some people find it sexy and fulfilling to feel like their partner is bigger than they are. It might have overtones of being overpowered or of being encompassed and engulfed. Or maybe they just like the idea of having all that flesh to caress and explore and revel in.
Some love the look of big bodies. The slopes and curves of fat bodies are luxurious. They can give a sense of durability, of permanence, of power, of comfort and abundance. Fatness can also magnify gender. For some people, fat makes secondary sexual characteristics more pronounced. Many fat men look solid and heavy through the torso, thick and burly. Many fat women have sumptuous curves and cleavage for days. Depending on how they are shaped, and where their bodies tend to carry fat, fat people’s bodies can evoke idealized and intense masculinity or femininity. Or, again depending on how one is shaped, the gender magnification can go the other way, creating an enticing sense of androgyny or genderfuck. (I’ve noticed many sexy fat butches and transmasculine people using this to their advantage.)
Not everyone who is attracted to fat bodies is attracted to all fat bodies. Of course, not everyone who is attracted to thin bodies is attracted to all thin bodies, either. But because being attracted to fat bodies is so taboo in our culture—not unusual, mind you, just taboo—many people jump to the conclusion that if you’re attracted to one fat body you’re attracted to them all or that bigger is necessarily better in your eyes. This simply isn’t so. Just as there are people who are attracted to thinner bodies but still find some thin bodies too thin for their tastes, there are people who are attracted to fatter ones but only those within a certain range of fatness. Some like very fat partners, others like medium fat partners, still others prefer partners who are just over the border of plumpness, and, yes, there are some for whom bigger is categorically better. And still tastes vary. There are “leg men” and aficionados of broad shoulders and bubble butts, there are people who really love thunder thighs and big bellies and soft, pillowy expanses of breasts. There is as much variation in tastes among people who are attracted to fatter bodies as there is among people who are attracted to thinner ones.
Some, but not all, people who are attracted to fat bodies consider their attraction to be along the lines of a sexual orientation, a defining characteristic of what they like and who they are sexually. Some of these folks refer to themselves as fat admirers
, or FAs for short. FA
often refers primarily to straight men who like fat women, who are often referred to as BBW
, for big beautiful women
. Variations on the theme include FFA
, or female fat admirer
, for straight women who like fat men, or BHM
s (big handsome men
). Chubby chaser
or just chaser
is used in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) community to refer to a gay man who likes fat guys. Some fans of gay male bears
—hairier, more traditionally masculine and beefy guys—also like their bears fat. BBW/FA folks, chubs/chasers, and bears have all developed their own subcultures, too, complete with dedicated social clubs and events, websites, porn, weekend getaway “bashes” at hotels and resorts, and more. So much for “no one is attracted to fat people”!
Myth: Fat men have tiny penises.
Busted! Whether the man is fat or thin, tall or short, pale skinned or dark skinned, the average penis is between 5 and 7 inches long when erect. Penis size is largely the result of genetics. Fatness can’t influence genetics (although genetics do influence fatness), so it’s not as if someone’s penis-size genes change when they gain weight. So some fat men certainly do have small penises. But some fat men have big ones. It’s pretty much the luck of the draw.
What lies behind the oft-repeated myth of the fat guy with the little dick is actually a simple problem of perspective. Put a carrot on a great big serving tray, and it’s going to look mighty puny. Put the same carrot on a dinner plate, and it’ll look normal. Move it to a saucer, and it’ll look gigantic. Fat guys are bigger, in proportion to their penises, than thin guys. A 6-inch penis is still 6 inches no matter what, but it doesn’t look as big against a bigger body.
What also may be at issue, depending on the man, how fat he is, and where and how his body stores fat, is fat padding around the pubic area. The region around the pubic bone is one of the places where bodies can store fat. The upper thighs, likewise, are common fat repositories. In men who store a lot of fat in these places, fat padding can make the penis seem shorter than it is. In some cases, a change of position—for instance, lying on the back—can allow the flesh in the area a little more room to spread out, lessening the degree to which the functional length of the penis is affected by fat.
Some people find that these fat deposits aren’t a problem at all. Some people are actually big fans of these particular fleshy bits and find them distinctly useful!
Myth: All fat women are easy; they’re desperate.
Busted! I won’t lie, it can sometimes be hard for a fat person to find a date in this fat-phobic culture, and both loneliness and the fear of being undesirable or unlovable can be hard to live with. When these things are in play, and a sexual opportunity comes along, it can seem like a really good idea to go for it, especially if it seems to be accompanied by a little bit of tenderness and kindness. Sometimes it turns out that it is a good idea to go for it. Other times you leap at a chance that ends up being a bad idea in the long run. Either way, this is hardly limited to fat people, and for better or worse, it’s a very human thing to do. A long dry spell, or merely the threat of one, can bring out feelings of desperation in just about anyone.
That being said, assuming that anyone, fat or otherwise, is desperate for your attention is beyond rude and puts a person well into the realm of being an arrogant jackass. Just because you think
someone else is the kind of person who might be desperate doesn’t mean they actually are.
As for the despicable, abusive, and immature practice known as hogging
, where men seek to take advantage (usually for one another’s entertainment) of what they believe to be fat women’s sexual desperation by picking up and fucking the fattest woman they can find on a given night, the less said the better. It’s hateful, cruel, exploitive, and misogynist in the extreme, and it should be soundly condemned by anyone with a shred of respect for their fellow human beings.
Excerpted from Big Big Love, Revised by Hanne Blank. Copyright © 2011 by Hanne Blank. Excerpted by permission of Celestial Arts, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.