Valuable

Published September 5, 2010 by sleepydumpling

It has happened again, I’ve been inspired to blog by another fabulous Fat Acceptance writer.  There are some amazing writers out there, and they just get me thinking and writing so effectively.

In particular, this post by the lovely Jessica of Tangled Up In Lace, who as well as providing a great blog, has one of the most fabulous Tumblr’s in existence.  I reblog more of her stuff on Tumblr than anyone else.

Anyway, back to the post of Jessica’s that has inspired this post.  Jessica shares an experience in her post of being duped into attending an event by being given sketchy and misleading information.  She and her friend turned up to what they were led to believe was a fat positive pinup modelling shoot, but turned out to be an event to promote a porn website and BBW (big, beautiful woman) nightclub.  She goes on to give her thoughts about fat admiration and the BBW concept, which then segues into thoughts on feederism.

I get quite angry when I find people using Fat Acceptance and Fat Admiration/BBW as interchangeable concepts.  Please understand, I don’t have any issues with fat admiration, or the BBW culture per se, but I don’t believe it is right to equate the two as being Fat Acceptance.

To me, Fat Acceptance is a social justice movement.  It’s about ending prejudice and bigotry, about pride, respect, dignity and inclusion.  To have that broken down to a mere vehicle for sexual attraction diminishes the importance of what FA activists and advocates are doing to a mere “Hey I’m hot too.”  Yes, fat admiration and the BBW culture is often a very effective way to raise ones self esteem, and strong self esteem is at the very core of FA, but to break it down to merely promoting fat being sexy undermines the power of being included and respected in society as the fat people we are.

It’s great to feel beautiful and sexy.  But to have that as the primary identifier of who you are, and to be considered attractive and sexy just for your fatness and not because of anything else about you removes any depth or complexity to you as a person.

In my mind, to reduce a person to mere fatness for sexual pleasure is no different to reducing a person to mere fatness with the aim of curing or eradicating obesity.  It makes fat people “other” than the human beings that they are.

And yet, I would say a significant portion of the visitors to Fat Acceptance blogs are fat admirers/BBW fans.  How do I know this?  Let’s start with the most prominent search terms used to navigate into this blog alone.  They’re all about fat body parts, and most of them are about “hot/sexy” fat body parts.  Again, it’s lovely to be admired, but it’s incredibly frustrating to be seen as just a bunch of fat body parts sought out for sexual gratification.

I also see it in a less sexual form, where fat women are celebrated for being gorgeous and glamorous by other women, and attention being paid merely to how they look, without any consequence to the rest of them.  Their intellect, their humour, their kindness, their outspokenness, their passion, their eloquence and so on.  The very focus is on how the fat women look, rather than who they actually are.

It isn’t helped that when we finally get a voice in mainstream media, that very mainstream media focuses on how we look as opposed to what we think, what we need and want, and who we really are.

Not only does this diminish those beautiful, glamorous, gorgeous women to their external appearance, but it sends the message that women are only valuable for their looks, and that those who are not considered beautiful, or glamorous, or gorgeous have less worth, that they don’t have a place in Fat Acceptance and society in general.

All of us are worth far more than that.  Fat Acceptance is worth far more than that.

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24 comments on “Valuable

  • I’m deathfat and have a disability.
    This reminds me of how the PWD community has had to deal with devotees.
    I have mixed feelings about both devotees and fat admirers. Personally, if it gets someone to take a first look at me and they stay for my personality I think I’ve come to accept it. However, on a more broad level I don’t know what to think.
    I’m not naive enough anymore to think that things like my size, disability, color, or gender will ever ‘disappear’ to a stranger or that they wont’ have some immediate reaction to those factors and more.

    • Lisa I think it’s perfectly normal to see or notice someone for external factors, but it goes beyond that. It’s not that these things disappear, it’s that to a healthy adult, they’re a part of the whole. It’s when a person becomes about only one factor, that I’m talking about. Human beings are far more than just one dimensional creatures. To focus on the fat being the only thing they have to offer, which is what I think many fat admiration and BBW sites and services do, absolutely diminishes a person.

      I will have to ask what PWD stands for though, I’m not familiar with that acronym.

  • EEE!!! I’m so honoured!!! I’m incredibly thankful for my online community and the support they give me. I’m even more thrilled you decided to write this post because it says in a much more eloquent way something I was trying so desperately to express :) I definitely now see how the BBW culture eventually brings *some* towards Fat Acceptance through the awareness that someone will find your body beautiful, but it does bother me how it creates such a divide between fat and thin bodies. Its so often a matter of building fat bodies up by tearing thin ones down and that ugliness just breeds more ugliness.

    At any rate, I’m so grateful to have your support and feedback!! xoxoxoxo

    • I agree Jessica. BBW culture is fine as a step off point for a much needed self esteem boost, but I really have a problem with BBW/fat admirers ONLY admiring someone for their fat, you know? Attraction is one thing, everyone has a set of factors that they find attractive initially, but I just feel like so often, just like other porn, it reduces women to parts, rather than their whole self. In this case, it reduces a woman to her fat. Just like other sites might reduce a woman to breasts, or vagina, or butt, or feet, or whatever floats the boat of the admirer, you know?

      And it’s my pleasure! I told you I’d catch up reading fatosphere posts eventually (secret is that I’m STILL way behind… not enough hours in the day!)

  • I feel like I am fighting a losingbattle either way. I have found a new sense of confidence I never before felt since discovering the fatosphere but that sunk to a whole new level on Friday. I experienced an entirely new way of being chatted up and not one I would recommend to any men unless they want me to punch them in the mouth… A colleague thought the best way to let me know how accepting he is was to tell me that everyone at work talks about me and how ugly I am but he he’s so much more enlightened than them because he would rather get to know someone first before judging them… Now I’m a public servant its mostly an old boys club and I couldnt give a shit what any of those sad old men think of me what really upset me was that someone could be so socially inept as to think this was ok to tell me all of this. I dont know whether he has confused fat and ugly in his head because hey we all know you cant be one without the other god forbid??!! And yes I am proper deathfatz so almost expect to be talked about because of that but even with low self esteem i have never really thought of myself as ugly but hey what do i know I’m fat

    • Oh Kelly. I’ve been there. It’s a whole “thing” that certain types of guy do, where they put a woman down and make her feel shitty, then purport to be wonderfully open minded by “slumming it” with this woman they’ve just been putting down. Someone told me that it’s even used in those awful pick up artist sites/books etc, and that it even has a name… negging. Google the term and you’ll see a whole lot of crap about how to use negging to get dates.

      The first time I recognised it, though in hindsight not the first time it has happened to me, a guy asked me out and then said “I have no problem dating fat men.” I thank the stars that the most beautiful response just popped into my head so quickly, because without missing a beat I answered “Really? Well I do have a problem dating patronising men!”

      You are worth more than that. And any guy who can’t see that doesn’t get to get near the wonderfulness that is you. To hell with anyone who labels you “ugly”.

  • I’ve struggled with this, because I have absolutely found my fatness to be an important piece of my loneliness on the dating front. I know that there are men who find fat women attractive, and I’m grateful for it. And I know that it is a negative stereotype of fat women that we are all lonely and (to quote Bridget Jones) gagging for sex.

    But I am in my mid-thirties and have never been kissed. While some men have expressed interest in me, they have been strangers leering pretty freakily, or men I’m just not at all interested in, or men who have girlfriends. Or a couple of gay friends who asked me out shortly before they came out, but I was pretty sure both of them were gay, and so I didn’t pursue or encourage their pursuits. I’ve had tons of first and second dates, found online.

    Anyway, plenty of this is not just about being fat, but plenty of it is… that no straight guy I went to high school, college, or grad school with ever expressed interest in me? I’m quite popular, socially gifted even (I’m told over and over), smart, sweet. And fat.

    I don’t need dating advice. I’ll work this out. I just wanted to say… that I’m grateful for the knowledge that FA’s are out there, and I really, really benefit from the message that fat can be sexy, since so much of the rest of the world has taught me to undervalue this part of my life? A loud and clear message about fat being sexy… yeah, I really , really need that.

    I don’t need to be reduced to it… I agree with your message… but fat women are so often depicted as decidedly unattractive, as turn-offs… so I need the countermessage.

    Thanks for your blog.

    • I don’t believe at all that there is a problem with wanting to feel attractive and enjoying the attention from BBW/fat admirers. Feeling attractive and wanted is really good for the self esteem and as human beings, we all seek it.

      It’s when BBW/fat admiration is equated with Fat Acceptance that I feel decidedly uncomfortable and like it negates a lot of the social justice we work so hard for.

  • PWD = people with disabilities.
    I’m also fat and disabled and used to be a part of the BBW scene. I got turned off of it rather quickly after posting personal ads and having 95% of the replies wanting to know how big my boobs were or how big my ass was or did I have thunder thighs. The men who wanted to know those things about me were told that if that was all they wanted to know about me, then I wasn’t interested in them, that I was more than my body parts, and if all they were interested in was body parts, then go find a fat blow-up doll (yeah, I’m a smart-ass).
    As much as I wanted to be accepted as a woman, I didn’t want to be objectified (I’m more than a sex object, dammit), and that’s the main problem I see with the BBW concept – it objectifies fat women. While that can be a boost to one’s self-esteem at first, after a while, it’s not a boost anymore because you see yourself as just a body and you question whether your intellect, your sense of humor, your compassion, or any other part of you that isn’t your body is worth anything when all men seem to be able to admire is your body. But I think this is a problem that all women have, no matter what their size – women are seen in a sexualized way, as if that’s the only use they have (other than having/raising children and taking care of a man). Equality – we needz it in more spherez than can be counted.
    I ended up deciding that I would rather be alone the rest of my life than settle for a man who was interested only in my body. If he wasn’t interested in my mind as well, then I didn’t need him in my life. Funnily enough, a few years later I met the man who is now my husband. We have a lot in common, and can talk about all kinds of things and he actually likes my mind (he loves my body too, but that’s ok because he likes other things about me too).

    • Thanks for the acronym decipher. As a librarian I have a head swimming with acronyms, and in hindsight I had heard that one before. As Homer Simpson says, every time I learn something new it pushes something old out of my brain!

      That’s totally where I’m coming from, it’s the objectification that bothers me about that culture. That’s why I personally don’t feel right about it. But that’s personal choice, if a woman is into taking part in BBW/fat admiration culture, then fair play to her.

      Personal distaste aside, objectification can only be damaging to a social justice movement. It removes the humanity from the message.

  • Yep, I’m always confused when fat acceptance and fat admiration is linked together. That’s what I said on Jessica’s post – one is a social movement that informs my whole life, the other is a fantasy that informs how I fuck. Not even slightly the same thing.

  • Couple of things: I’ve had very little personal experience with the BBW scene myself. I don’t like being objectified. I get a lot of search terms having to do with sex, beauty and fat on my blog.

    I think that maybe some people in the BBW scene really aren’t interested in being admired for their mind. I’m serious. I’m thinking there are people that are just really freaky, want to get off, and have sex, and that’s about it – these things, by the way, I have no problem with at all.

    I agree here that the BBW scene and FA are two different concepts and aren’t interchangeable. Speaking for myself, reading BBW sites back in the day, was my “gateway drug” to the hardcore, good stuff: fat acceptance as social justice movement.

    However, I think BBW scenes have their place, and like I said, not everyone is interested in being loved for their mind.

  • I am SO with you on this. I dabbled in the BBW arena for a while. Yeah it was nice to get attention and “affection” from people who found me attractive and actually preferred my type of body. But I felt fetishized (is that even a word?). Like if I lost weight I would no longer be attractive to them. And isn’t that just as bad as being told one is unattractive for gaining weight? It’s still my body being either lauded or rejected based on what turns someone on or off physically. I also had men feeling entitled to my attention because they felt that their bbw preference was something I should treasure for its rarity whether I was attracted to them or not. It was still kind of a gross, sexist world. Oh, and there were plenty of married men with thin wives who liked to dabble in bbw world. yeah, gross.

  • The phrase “BBW” has always made me cringe. Seriously. And most fat admirers I’ve met have seriously creeped me out. The whole BBW/fat admirer thing is really just fetishizing fat bodies while fat acceptance and body politics movements are about social justice and who we are as PEOPLE, not a fetish.

    With that said though, I think that so long as all parties are consenting, there’s nothing wrong with fetishes and if someone has sexual activity with that person just to fulfill a certain fantasy or curiosity. Fat admirers just always creeped me out though!

      • True, true– but if someone has no problem fulfilling one person’s fantasy or curiosity about having sex with a fat person, more power to them. If they don’t want to be fetishized/objectified, then it’s a problem. Consent is key!

        I might have a slightly different perspective on this because I am someone who does not believe in monogamy and I prefer flings, casual sex, and anonymous sex to a functional relationship; but I can see the other side of the fence and understand how someone with a more conventional viewpoint about the opposite sex feels– coupled with the demonizing fat people face in Western culture, yes, the whole fat blow-up doll analogy.

        But it’s all about consent and comfort. I’m comfortable with anonymous sex, most women aren’t. Heh I’m not going to lie, I’ve definitely slept with men just to fulfill certain fantasies while I’ve probably fulfilled many of their curiosities to see what it was like to have sex with a fat woman; therefore it doesn’t bother me…I’ve just never had any out-and-out “BBW seekers” get anywhere with me because most I’ve met are just plain creepy!

  • Boyoboy, the term BBW has sure changed a lot over the years! It used to be the name of a pretty good women’s magazine, and was supposed to be analogous to “Black is Beautiful”.
    Objectification is a problem that most every woman faces, and is not at all particular to fat women. The difference is that, in our culture, fat women cannot as easily leverage this objectification into better treatment overall.
    The irony of this post, for me, is that I was briefly a member of NAAFA many years ago and left because it was almost entirely what you’d call a BBW culture with relatively little in the way of activism. I’m not sure why – did most members want it that way? Perhaps the organization has greatly changed by now.
    Oh, and I have been admired for my mind. Being admired for my body (without being patronized) has always been a much harder deal.

  • I found Tangled Up In Lace’s post through yours, and I wrote a response here: http://molly-ren.tumblr.com/post/1087136323/feederism-freaks-out-fat-acceptance-activists

    You might also want to look at http://www.gitbigger.com/. It’s a blog written by a gay gainer in a LTR. He’s pretty eloquent about the pleasures of shaping his body for his own pleasure instead of for someone else.

    One of my internet hangouts is FantasyFeeder.com, a feederism dating site. Recently, there was a post on the foum linking to some fat acceptance blogs (sadly I can’t link, my wifi is blocking it as porn! XD). One of the mods, who reads the dating ads for abusive content, also made a post on the forum stating how surprised and pleased she was that there were so many respectful ads looking for more than *just* fat.

    I think feederism has some of the same problems as mainstream porn: that there aren’t enough males portrayed as objects of desire, even though there are females into the stuffing aspect; the claims that the people who participate are being abused without exceptions; that there are sexists and creepers. But just as there’s been a surge of women-only porn in recent years, I don’t think that’s all Feederism is or could be.

    • As I said in my post – I don’t have a problem with people’s personal choices and their sexuality, as distasteful as I personally find feederism, other people’s lives are other people’s lives. But I do feel strongly, and stand by original post, even after reading all of the follow up stuff, that sexualising fat is not the same as advocating for it, nor is it anything that really contributes to social justice for it.

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