I mentioned this to a guy recently, after he called me "curvy" in bed. "I don't mind—it's what I am." His response to this took me surprise. Even those who are not ashamed of their desires sometimes feel the need to be secretive about it.
The way I see it, if you can't handle my stretch marks, then you don't deserve my cellulite. I used to be the girl who insisted on sex with the lights off. I never wanted to be on top during sex, fearing how my stomach might look from that angle. My confidence boosted the day I came to the simple realization that my fatness is not something I can hide, so why try?
I never went into sex under the impression that my partners knew what they were in for, as if our entire time together before getting undressed was spent solely looking at each other's faces.
Plus, most of the men I sleep with tell me they like my body.
They'll say something like "I love curvy women," or "I like thicker girls." I always took these comments as them trying to do me a favor—like, But I don't see fat as a bad word, and I don't see the point in avoiding it. This guy, and probably a lot of the others, didn't want to come to terms with his attraction to a fat woman. It's not just women who are raised to believe that there is only one type of body considered "hot." Openly liking a body type that strays from the socially-constructed norm brings about shame.
"The truth is that human desire—and yes, male desire—varies widely, and if we lived in a less proscriptive world we would all see how diverse our appetites are.
Unfortunately, we don't live in that kind of world.
In the West, it is thinness." Perhaps this would be different if fat women were represented differently in mainstream media.
There are communities of men known as "fat admirers." In 2011, the profiled Dan Weiss, an outspoken fat admirer and creator of "Ask A Guy Who Likes Fat Chicks." In that profile, Weiss debunks the myths about why a man might prefer fat women: It's not because fat women are easier to get into bed, and it's not true that men who date fat women must have low self-confidence.
The fact that these are common beliefs in the first place says something about how fat women are viewed in a sexual context.
A Fernando Botero painting in the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City.
Photo via Flickr user Enrique Vázquez Author and fat activist Virgie Tovar brings up another misconception: "Men who desire fat women are considered sexual deviants or perverts because fat women do not conform to mainstream Western ideals of beauty," she told me.