For fat girls/women, in my fat woman experience, being sexually active was/is somewhat dubious. As a life-long femme fattie, the only time I heard about fat girls having sex was as the butt of a joke or as the description of a fetish. Never being shown a normalized image of fat sex and fat women being desired, without a dehumanizing stigma attached to it and us.
For many years, this perpetuated anxious thoughts, like wondering if a potential partner knew I was fat, like really fat, actually fat. And if they don’t, when they find out, are they going to run out of the room screaming? Will I have set myself up for embarrassment and shame just by being fat and horny? According to the conversations, we have as a society, pretty much.
For years, I felt psychologically trapped by the anxiety created by the cultural re-enforcements of fatphobia, to the point where I could not imagine feeling comfortable enough with my body to have sex at all.
But, over time, I was able to build a relationship with myself that needed self-love more than I needed validation from people who were able to “look past” my weight. I learned to stop trying to outsource approval and how to seek it within.
By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor
1. Set the standard by worshiping yourself
Choosing radical self-love opened me up to a place that encouraged me to enjoy the power and beauty my body possesses and to share that in satisfying, unashamed, and healthy ways.
I won’t pretend that that’s not tough as shit, especially for those of us who live with mental illnesses. The key is to try. That’s all you have to do, a little at a time. Establish a self-care routine that includes treating your body and mind right. For me, this means long baths with bath bombs and elaborate body scrubs, lotions, and butters, daily nail painting, beating my face and trying new looks just to sit around the crib looking pretty, lingerie selfies for no one in particular, and admiring my reflection. But, you know, do whatever makes you feel good! The point is to pick rituals and routines that give you the chance to be your biggest fan.
2. Sexualize yourself
Change the narrative yourself by doing things that might help you connect your sexual nature with your body. Develop a non-judgemental understanding of your kinks and fetishes, indulge in the (legal?) things that get you off and witness and celebrate the ways in which your body can give and receive pleasure—just as it is. Harness that power for yourself and bask in it.
3. Setting uncompromisable boundaries
Setting boundaries, for me, is a way to express and stay rooted in self-respect and self-love when intense or complicated feelings for others might enable more easily looking past red flags and signs of potential abuse or mistreatment. Boundaries are the explicit prioritization of one’s relationship with themselves over any outside force.
When I enter a sexual or romantical relationship with someone new, I’ve learned to be upfront that negative comments and behavior about my weight or appearance will not be tolerated in any fashion. There are zero exception to this rule. Creating a safe space for yourself in this way will only empower you to enjoy your sexuality. People won’t always honor those boundaries, but when they don’t, you’ll know it’s time to go.
4. Stop having performative sex
If you’re not getting paid, there’s no need to put an in-your-head, business-like performance of sexuality. This isn’t a Lil’ Wayne song, you don’t need to do a jump split onto your partner’s face or ride the d vigorously enough to pull a muscle. For some, sex while fat can come with physical limitations, and that’s perfectly fine! Don’t succumb to pressure to overcompensate for your weight or anything else by putting on a tiring, uncomfortable, and unsatisfying show for anyone. Same with faking orgasms. This is true for everyone regardless of weight, but the point is to learn how to prioritize your own sexual gratification because you deserve it and are worthy of pleasure and adoration.
Artwork by Zahira Kelly
*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK's editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at email@example.com.