If I do not scale down my needs, prioritize theirs in place of mine, I become too much.
When someone says that another person is not deserving of what they have or want, it implies that they have not done enough or proven their worth in relation to the subject of the gripe. As a fat woman, I see many people out-rightly state that fat people are not deserving of love. Most times, this is in reference to romantic love, although the distinction often is not made. People who fit conventionally attractive standards believe that good things of life are reserved for them. They believe that everybody else who maintains standards outside of the constraints of those boxes should be paid dust. To a large extent, it hurts them terribly when they see that fat people might have what they themselves do not have. It feels like the unconventionally attractive person has stolen from them.
What the majority of society sees when they view a person who is fat being loved on, especially by someone who is conventionally attractive, is a fat person that has made themselves useful to some extent. In order to accept the reality, they conclude that the fat person has become deserving of the love being received, because they have done offered something tangible. A fat person cannot just be loved for who they are. It would be ridiculous. On the other hand, conventionally attractive people do not have to do anything in order to receive romantic (or otherwise) love. They just have to be. Fat men are expected to amass a lot of wealth in order to be deserving of their romantic partners, especially if they desire a partner who is conventionally attractive. Fat women are expected to be caregivers of some sort, ‘mammies’ to their partners. They are expected to spend money on, coddle and spoon-feed their partners. This way, said partner could possibly forget that they are this despicable creature and try to love them despite their very obvious flaw.
Simply being with a conventionally attractive woman makes fat men look good, other women may begin to desire them as a result. Fat women, on the other hand, face a lot of vitriol for being with conventionally attractive men. This is because of the way desirability intersects between both genders, as being seen with a fat woman reduces the conventionally attractive man’s desirability. People wonder what he would see in said partner, rather than dating someone on his ‘level’. They rationalize it by concluding the man is either broke or has a terribly low self esteem. No matter the gender of a fat person, romantic attachment is not something easily rationalized by others. There has to be more that meets the eye.
In queer spaces, there is even a higher level of fatphobia especially for fat, gay men. “No fats, no femmes” is a common denominator on gay dating sites. These intersections worsen when said person is black, or visibly dark skinned. There is also a lack of visibility for fat, lesbian women and often fat queer women are expected to be masculine presenting rather than femme to off-set their chances at being completely rejected in the community. In general, society propagates the idea that fat people do not like to date themselves. Meanwhile, fat people in relationships with each other are routinely degraded. Fat men are generally conditioned to denigrate fat women or other marginalized groups as a way to feel better about themselves. Women in general are told that fat men have smaller genitals. For fat women who like men, we are told that our rolls and extra body parts would make it impossible for penetrative sex with bigger men to ever happen. It is no wonder that you often do not find representation for fat couples. I say representation because I can hardly believe the stereotype that fat people refuse to date each other.
And while the entire topic has been largely focused on romantic love, it still remains that fat people are expected to perform the bulk of labor in their friendships.
Popular culture paints us as desperate for acceptance so in order to have that, we must be the funny, easy-going friend. If we are not the funny friend, we are the friend who everybody else comes to for comfort and companionship. As straight size people form meaningful bonds with others, we watch on in longing. Our lives are never as centered in theirs as their own needs to be in ours. We are sideline characters in the written stories of conventionally attractive people. If we decide to subject ourselves to the majority’s idea of what beauty should look like, then we are welcomed into the fold, encouraged even. We are handed meaningful things and finally made to feel worth it.
For fat people, losing weight means that the dream job, dream friends, the dream partner and eventually the dream life will come along. We will be worthy of fullness, worthy of joy. Personally, years of therapy has not been unable to undo this conditioning. This is why it doesn’t come as a surprise that it might take a lifetime for some fat people to ever truly embrace their bodies. Even while I have started to break free from this thinking, I am haunted by the realization that other people still expect such labor from me. If I do not scale down my needs, prioritize theirs in place of mine, I become too much.
While seeking out companionship is a fundamental human need, it is not worth our self-respect or peace. Encouraging fat people to love themselves s not enough, we need to be informed on holding boundaries and sticking to them in their entirety. We need to be on the look-out for identifiable signs of people who merely want to use you.. Advising us to date fat, only be friends with other fat people is wishful thinking for many reasons. Even when we do that, we still face ridiculing and in some cases, bodily harm. To the straight size people who befriend or romantically approach us, treat us with the same kindness and love you do the other straight size people in your lives. If you feel that such is too difficult to do, simply leave us alone.