As luck would have it, the latest fatosphere topic of discussion dovetails nicely with the next thing I wanted to talk about relating to fat sexuality. A Marie Claire blogger (really, there is such a thing) wrote a post complaining about the overrepresentation of fat people in our entertainment mediums. No, really. Its all about how she feels uncomfortable with seeing fat people on TV because she's so disgusted by them. But she's only grossed out at us for our health, you see. Like everyone else who stigmatizes and bullies fat people.
Of course, that's not true. She clearly isn't concerned for our health when what she's talking about is a show about self-loathing fat people who regard weight loss as the ultimate goal. She's "aesthetically displeased" and she wants to rationalize that. So, to this writer and anyone else who is wondering, let me say this: Its okay to not be sexually attracted to fat people.
The purpose of fat acceptance is not making people be attracted to fat people. Actually, I think people in fat acceptance get this pretty readily, but ocassionally you'll see a post bemoaning the superficialism of people who only date thin partners. More likely, it'll come from people who aren't really fat accepting at all, but who think they are helping by regarding attraction to thin people as necessarily suspect. Its not. Its totally okay to not be aesthetically pleased by fat people.
I say that as someone who very much IS aesthetically pleased by fat people. Indeed, that's why I say it. My sexual attraction to fat people is not charity work. Its not because I'm enlightened in any way and am willing to date fat people in spite of their physical appearance. Its not because being fat myself, I feel it is the proper thing to do. Its not because I can't do any better. Well, actually it is. I just mean it in the other way. This is what I want. This is what my sexuality is.
I've really started seeing this through the prism of sexuality and its been making a lot of sense to me. As I started to have sexual feelings, an attraction to fat was one of the things I was immediately aware of. It reminds me a lot of stories I've heard of gays and lesbians coming to recognize their sexual orientation. This was something I felt very strongly, very innately. I simply wasn't sexually interested in thin partners. Fat is at the core of my sexual aesthetic and even calling it a preference doesn't feel like it does it justice to me. This is part of who I am and I'm prepared to demand respect for it.
And offer that respect to others. I would no sooner want anyone telling me I couldn't be attracted to fat people than I want anyone telling people oriented to attraction to thin people that they shouldn't feel that way. Both "orientations" deserve respect. And we should all recognize that this isn't something that acts as a binary. People don't all come in only fat admiring and thin admiring flavors.
I think if we had some sort of fat acceptance utopia, we'd find that a certain part of the population was specifically attracted to fat partners, a certain part of the population was specifically attracted to thin partners, and there would be a lot of people in the middle without a strong leaning towards one or the other. I don't think we see that much now because those people in the middle are strongly conditioned to believe that attraction to thin partners is appropriate and they decide to try to "pass" for thin admiring. Because its not very hard to pass. There are definitely still people who don't get caught up in this. I think a lot of fat people do have partners that come from this middle group which is awesome. But there are probably a lot more people who could potentially be in this group who instead do what they are told is expected of them.
Problem is, of course, that we can't really tell the difference. There is no way to know who is thin admiring because they are genuinely oriented that way, and who is just going along with what they think they are supposed to. So we have to just respect it all. Which also means not lionizing those who buck the system too much. Its great, and all, but no one is noble for dating fat people. Either because they want to or because they are willing to do. I think that kind of construction actually just endorses fat stigmatization by making too much out of resisting it. I mean, yeah, it means something but lets not act like it makes any of us better people. It doesn't matter in that way.
Which brings me back to the Marie Claire writer who decided to write an article consisting exclusively of things Google suggested be searched about fat people. Her problem is not that she's not attracted to fat people. Its that she thinks that matters. Its that she regards lack of meeting her sexual aesthetic is a moral failure worthy of condemnation. I'm not attracted to thin people, but I'm not disgusted by them. For pretty much the same reason I'm not disgusted by gay people. Because I'm not an asshole. Because I'm not offended by anything which doesn't turn me on. The privilege of thin attraction, though, allows this and it clearly fuels a great deal of fat stigmatization. They are allowed to elevate their sexual attraction to something that matters beyond their choice of sexual partners. There is a world of difference between not being aesthetically pleased by something and taking the time to be aesthetically displeased. But its a difference thin admiring people rarely feel the need to see.
It creates a false notion of a backlash against fat acceptance for the perception of trying to make them be attracted to fat people. While a few people do seem to advance this, I want to be clear that I utterly reject it and I think most fat accepting people would agree. We no more have a fat agenda to force ourselves on people sexually than gays are trying to turn straight people homosexual. No one is trying to take away their sexual attractions. We're just trying to get THEM to stop forcing theirs on us by elevating their sexual aesthetic to something objectively "right". You don't need to be disgusted by fat people to not be sexually interested in us. You don't need to be disgusted by fat people at all. Its just privileging your sexual interests as something more important than they are. Its okay to not be attracted to fat people. Its not okay to think that means anything more than that.