Men who love “fat chicks”, masculinity, and women as trophies

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This Village Voice article about “guys who like fat chicks” left me pleasantly surprised. The obnoxious title notwithstanding, it offers a detailed, honest, and non-shaming look at the phenomenon of men who like fat women. I especially appreciated prescient, self-aware analysis like this:

Fat Admirers (FA) have historically adopted queer nomenclature for their self-discovery stages and preferences. Men who openly pursue, prefer, and date fat women are “out.” Men who like fat women but more or less hide them from friends and family are “closeted.” Men who say they like both skinny and supersize women ones are “bisizuals,” a controversial term that’s regarded as disingenuous in various online circles.”

It’s also worth checking out the part where they deconstruct common misconceptions, including “Loving fat women is a fetish”, “Fat Admirers pursue fat women because they are vulnerable prey”, “Guys who are sexually attracted to fat chicks are sexually attracted to all fat chicks”, “Sex with a 110-pound woman is preferable to celibacy”, and “It’s easy to pick up a fat chick.”

Also highly recommended: Hugo Schwyzer, a Feministing favorite and a very smart masculinity blogger, sees the profile as “a useful conversation starter”, despite the fact that “the article still centers men’s attraction to heavier women rather than women themselves”. He goes on to make really excellent points about weight, desire, and ego, including this gem:

“So much of men’s focus on thin women, I pointed out, is wrapped up in the desire to gain status in the eyes of other men. One of the most basic tasks for heterosexual men is a simple one: learning to separate what it is that they personally find desirable from their desire to impress others. Our ruthlessly fat-phobic culture doesn’t give fat people “trophy” status, even if (as the article suggests) many men are sexually drawn to heavier women.”

Worth a read!

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11 Comments

  1. Posted May 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    A good friend of mine who is a sociologist in the field would love this. I’ll pass it along to her.

    I have been known to be romantically and sexually involved with women who could never be confused as thin. And it never seemed to be a fetish to me. It always depended more upon the personality. I was also in a relationship with a woman who had struggled with cancer during her teenage years and who looked unhealthily thin as a result of the chemotherapy.

  2. Posted May 5, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    “Sex with a 110-pound woman is preferable to celibacy”

    Shouldn’t that be a 210-pound woman? The statements are about what is perceived in Fat Admirers.

    • Posted May 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the comment Robin, but I think the statement is correct as is. The rest of the paragraph is devoted to battling the misconception that even a Fat Admirer would choose to sleep with a “skinny” woman over none at all. The debunking paragraph reads: “Nope. “It’s like, ‘What, are you just going to go out and have sex with skinny women until you find a bigger one you like?’ No, you’re not. You’re just going to stay home.”

  3. Posted May 5, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    That definitely was worth a read. I understand what an article like that is trying to do, but I personally don’t like the idea that instead of judging beauty based on thinness, some guys are basing it on being ‘fat’. Beauty is based on so much more than body size/type. And physical beauty really isn’t particularly important (well, at least for me….clearly this is not the case for everyone!). Relationships should be about connections with people. If they happen to fit within your type of physical attraction, thats awesome, but I find it sad when people don’t enter relationships because of someone’s looks or body size. Sadly, when I was younger I was one of those sad people, but fortunately I have grown out of that.

    • Posted May 5, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      The men interviewed did say that they didn’t consider fat alone to be attractive, but rather something that’s a major factor in the ‘type’ of women they’re attracted to. None of them are hostile towards thin women, and they don’t insist thin women can’t be beautiful. They have just clearly come to the conclusion that certain body types arouse them a lot more than others.

      The problem isn’t that people chose to pursue romantic relationships with people they’re attracted to, it’s that as a society we’ve set up a homogenous beauty ideal and expect everyone to follow it. For non-asexual people, sexual attraction is an important factor in romantic relationships. I’d be hurt if someone rejected me because of my body, but I’d be more hurt if we pursued a relationship, and eventually found out my partner didn’t enjoy having sex with me.

      • Posted May 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        There was at least one person interviewed in the article who said that he wouldn’t be able to be with a person under 180lbs. I don’t see that as qualitatively any different than someone saying that wouldn’t date anyone bigger than a size 4 (or whatever arbitrary size they choose).

        I also don’t think I expressed myself very well about the attraction part. The point I wanted to make is that beauty isn’t static and isn’t only physical. I am sure everyone has experienced where someone they aren’t attracted to becomes much more attractive because they have such a wonderful personality, or someone who initially is beautiful in your eyes becomes much less beautiful because they are an asshole.

        I also think enjoying sex and finding someone’s body beautiful aren’t the exact same thing. Although I certainly agree they are related, but its easy to enjoy sex with someone without a beautiful body and easy to not enjoy sex with someone with a beautiful body.

  4. Posted May 5, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    While I do admire that a different perspective is being presented, I have a problem with the phrase “bisizuals”. Like gender, bodies can’t be placed on a binary of skinny vs. fat. We should acknowledge all shapes and sizes :) .

    • Posted May 6, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      “Pansizuals”? Sorry, that’s my Wesleyan education rearing its ugly head . . .

  5. Posted May 6, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    A healthy body image is what should be encouraged. From an ethical point of view I dont see a difference between expecting a girl to be obese or to be bulemic for sexual gratification. Both sexual expectations call for the girl to lead an extremly unhealthy lifestyle and neither should be presented as the ideal in the media.

    • Posted May 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      They’re not expecting girls to be fat for their gratification. Pointing out that some people appreciate a body type is not the same as bombarding use daily with pictures of that body type, and ONLY that type, as the epitome of beauty.

      Some women are fat. Some men are attracted to that. Taken together, that’s a really good thing.

  6. Posted May 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Bruno I think it’s important to clear up that bulimic is not the opposite of obese, and that the men who are attracted to fat women don’t expect them to be that way. The women they’re attracted to most just happen to already be fat. Like it or not, some people are going to be fat because a) they like themselves that way and scoff at the idea that they should be otherwise, b) it’s not a big enough priority for them to alter it, or c) they are literally unable to change it. Should all those people be condemned to loneliness and celibacy if that’s not what they want just because finding people who are attracted to them might send them the message that being fat is a legitimate way of being (which, btw, it is)?

    Besides that, not all fat people are unhealthy, just as not all thin people are actually in good shape. In fact, people with more body fat tend to survive traumas like heart attacks and chronic illnesses at much higher rates than thin folks. Anyway not everyone is obligated to make health their top priority. I don’t consider this a moral issue because another person’s health decisions are not really anyone else’s business.

    And after hearing for an adult lifetime from guys who “just aren’t attracted to bigger girls” or knowing plenty who are, but can’t bring themselves to admit to it publicly, it’s refreshing to see guys who are and aren’t willing to cave to shaming from our thin-centric society.

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