I don’t actually think Sarah Hollowell at The Butter (“This Is an Essay About a Fat Woman Being Loved and Getting Laid”) and Philippe Leonard Fradet at The Body Is Not an Apology (“Sex at Every Size!” were conspiring to get me to write about this topic. They probably don’t even know each other.
But both essays are excellent, and both make a particularly important point about not “settling” for less than you want.
Here’s Hollowell’s self-description:
I am not a little chubby. I am not a few pounds over some arbitrary acceptable weight. I am very, very fat. I have a huge stomach and arm fat that flaps for days. I do not have the large breasts and tiny waist that would make me into an hourglass. My thighs are so far from having a gap that any day now they could meld together and transform me into a glorious mermaid.
My curves are not in all the right places but they still bring men to their knees.
Hollowell is exactly the kind of person who doesn’t need Fradet, but so many of us do need him. A fat man himself, he has set out to modify the Health at Every Size model to be specifically about sex. He has come up with eight points, and you should read them all, so I’ll tantalize you with two:
You have every right to express your desires. If you have decided to have sex, you have the right to discuss all of your desires with your partner. One of the keys to any relationship, whether it’s a fling, a long-term deal, or a purely sexual encounter, is communicating what you like and don’t like and what makes your comfortable and uncomfortable.
Here’s the point where he converges with Hollowell:
There is no need to “settle.” The concept of “settling” can indeed be unsettling, but you shouldn’t feel that you need to forgo your own desires just to have sex. If you feel that you’re not going to be happy, or that you’re not going to enjoy your sexual encounter, don’t force yourself to move forward. Never enter a relationship that is mentally, emotionally, or physically abusive.
Hollowell’s version of “not settling”:
I am not, never have been, and never will be a pity fuck.
… I have been the chosen one among a group of women more traditionally pretty than me and I have been on the other side, doing the selecting. I have gone man to man to man and kissed them hard to feel if our lips lined up and if they knew the right way to pull my hair and bite the point where my neck meets my shoulder. I am picky and I will dismiss a man who is not to my liking, and there will be someone else in line waiting to be tested.
Men look on my naked fat body in the full light – because I don’t have sex in the dark – and grow hard at the sight of me. I have had my stomach cradled in gentle hands and been told in reverent whispers that I look like an ancient fertility goddess. I have had those hands turn rough and squeeze my stomach fat as passionately as one might squeeze a thigh or a breast.
Neither Fradet nor Hollowell invented fat sex, and they’re not the first people to talk about it openly, or to recommend against “settling.” What they are is clear, contemporary, committed, and convincing. I’ll just steal Fradet’s closing:
The best way to promote fat sexuality is to talk about it with other fat folks, especially fat folks of color, queer fat folks, trans* fat folks, and fat folks with disabilities.