Let me give you some numbers that I’m supposed to guard with my life.
I’m 5-foot-3-inches and somewhere north of 300 pounds, though I couldn’t tell you exactly where. I’m a U.S. size 28/30, but getting dresses that fit off the rack is a pain in the ass because my hips are seventy inches around but my bra size is a 46B.
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.
This, despite the fact that I have been told that because I am fat I can’t expect to be loved, desired, to have my body worshipped as a temple.
This, despite the fact that I have been told to accept any scraps of attention thrown my way because fat women are not allowed the luxury of standards. Our relationships are punch lines, not love stories.
And yet I have been loved, by men a foot taller than me and just as wide, by men at my height and skinny as a rail. I have been loved by men both plain and handsome. I have been loved by teenage boys and by men twice my age.
I have been loved poorly by men who couldn’t get past their own misunderstandings of what love should look like, and in moments of greatness, those same men have loved me beautifully. I have been loved by boys that I didn’t love back. They have wooed me and I have said no. I have been the sea witch in a low cut strapless dress that clung to the rolls of fat on my back, with thick arms bare and jiggling, and I have made deals for hearts that I then broke.
It’s not that these are noble or desperate men willing to see past my fat. I am not someone to be chosen as a last resort, but someone to be lusted after and pursued.
I am not, never have been, and never will be a pity fuck.
My bed is also not the domain of fat fetishists. They are rarely welcome at all, because they are too prone to not seeing the woman within the fat. They don’t care about the woman who’s too shy to offer the first kiss, who gets a little pushy when the foreplay moves too slow, whose orgasms drive her to giggles. Although I am a sexual being, I am not an object. I can do so much better than men who see only my fat body and what they can do to it.
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.
My fat does not get in the way of my ability to have sex. Fat people are perfectly capable of putting their parts together in as many combinations as skinny people. We can fuck like animals at dusk or make love on satin sheets. Our fat jiggles in tune to thrusts and when we are done we make the softest pillows for a lover’s head.
I can be the cowgirl in bed and I do not crush the men beneath me, not in any way they don’t enjoy. I ride them and they hold my hips, my stomach, fingers digging into mounds of flesh and never feeling bone because it is too well hidden.
Men have begged me to let them pay for a taxi to their houses so they could have me in their beds for one night and I have refused. I have never had to beg for sex – except when I wanted to.
My fatness has never been an obstacle to finding someone to love or to fuck because any man worth my time will revel in all seventy inches of my hips and see passion in my stretch marks. He will not say, “You’re not fat! You’re pretty!” because he’ll know that I am both. He will not speak of my inner beauty without mentioning the beauty all over my outsides.
It’s somehow more comfortable for society to label fat people disgusting than to acknowledge our desirability. The propaganda is so pervasive that fat people must fight not to believe it of ourselves. We look at our bodies in bits and pieces because we are taught that the whole is too much. We feel a lover’s hands on our fat thighs and we have to trust that the hand wouldn’t be there if its owner didn’t want us.
We eat the messages that call us repulsive and we let stomach acid destroy the words and we march forward. We flirt with another fat girl at the coffee shop. We welcome a skinny boy to lose himself between our legs. We learn to stand naked in front of full length mirrors and see our many inches as a whole.
We learn to fall in love with ourselves.
Sarah Hollowell studies creative writing at Ball State University. She reviews books and talks about everything YA at sarahhollowell.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarahhollowell if you like cats.