I was listening to the latest episode of the Two Whole Cakes Fatcast and Marianne and Lesley were discussing fat admirers and fat fetishists. Its a discussion that comes up a lot when discussing fat sexuality and specifically fat admirers. It struck me, though, that this common distinction is one I'm not convinced there is a justification for.
I know I didn't always think so. Indeed, fat admirers commonly talk about fat fetishists. Thing is, that's always something someone else is. The distinction is usually drawn as one group being good and the other bad. Now, to be fair, the Fatcast rejected that understanding, but I still think that's how most people view it. Fat admirers are fine, but fat fetishists are a problem. I know I've endorsed that idea in the past, though I've never been totally comfortable with it.
The problem is, I don't know what would usefully differentiate these two groups. Having been exposed to a lot of communities focused around attraction to fat partners, I just don't see any real camps of "admirers" and "fetishists". As to how both might respond to fatness, I don't think there is a meaningful distinction. I may not always feel comfortable with what they do with their feelings, but I can't say that what I feel seems any different from what other men like me feel. I think it'd be easy for me to say that I'm different or better, but I can't do that in all honesty. What I feel for fat is what they feel for fat, so I'm not comfortable singling some people out as fetishists. Not because fetishes are wrong, but because I just don't think its the right word for what this is and I'm not convinced there is something else it would describe. A point made on the Fatcast is that we never talk about having a fetish for penises. This is my sexuality.
Which is not to say that different men (and women) don't do different things with this. I have a post I've been wanting to write for a while called "The problem with Fat Admirers" because while I know I've been a bit of an apologist for Fat Admirers lately, I am actually acutely aware of how earned a lot of the perception issues are for my sexuality. I don't tend to last long in Fat Admirer communities because I invariably spend my time telling them to be better and being told to shut up for my troubles. But I can't divorce my sexual identity with their sexual identity. On a very basic level, the physical attraction we feel strikes me as essentially identical.
I also think this division is born out of trying to accommodate fat stigmatization rather than confront it. Outside fat communities, we're ALL fat fetishists. And this is not for any nuance of behavior but for the essential desire for a fat partner that we share. I feel like the dichotomy was born (quite some time ago) from an effort to flatter this conventional ignorance. Oh, sure, there is fat fetishism but that's not me. Well, I'm not prepared to make such allowances. I think many of the distinctions raised about the differences often have less to do with this sexuality as it does with male heterosexual identity in general.
I'm going to keep writing about this because its way to large to get into one post and I really do want to get into the problems in fat admirer behavior and how that links to male sexuality in general but also how the problems relate to the stigmatization of fat attraction. But I'm not going to try to draw very hard lines to credit myself over other men. On a very essential level, I think sexual attraction is a wonderful thing. Sexual desire is a wonderful thing. There shouldn't be shame about that. It is okay to sexually desire a fat body and in our culture that really needs to be said straight on and without reservation. My reservations absolutely will come, but I want to push that as far away from the essential act of sexual desire for a fat partner as possible. That should not be stigmatized in the least and I feel on that level there is no dividing line between so-called "fat fetishists" and so-called "fat admirers". On a fundamental level, we are the same thing.