Hey lovelies. I’ve been quiet for a bit haven’t I? Well something has brought me out of the woodwork today and steaming from the ears. The lovely Em aka Boombands from Oh The Places You’ll Go drew my attention via her Twitter to a project this morning called Stop Dating Like a Fat Chick. Em quite rightfully pointed out just how problematic the project was, and the author of it directed her to this page Who You Callin’ A Fat Chick? When I read it, I can tell you, I felt kind of sick.
Firstly, most of you already know, I’m a fat chick. I’m also a single fat chick. Apparently, being a fat chick is a BAD THING. The author of the blog/book, Adrienne Santos-Longhurst says that she is offering “the no BS guide to dating with confidence for the plus size girl” – so let me just get this right. Being a plus size girl is ok, but being a fat chick is not. Indeed, that is what she says at the top of the page… “If you let your size dictate how and who you date then YOU, my dear, are a Fat Chick.”
Sounds like Ms Santos-Longhurst is buying into the old “No Fat Chicks” bullshit that plenty of douchecanoes have been labelling women that they think they’re superior to for a long, long time. We’re getting into some good fatty/bad fatty territory with this stuff.
Now that we’ve established that being a fat chick is a VERY BAD THING, and that to become a fat chick you only have to identify as fat and choose people to date and how you date them with relevence to your fatness. So, that means that because I identify as a fat chick, and because I only date people who accept (and appreciate) my fatness and understand my self-identifying as fat, I “date like a fat chick”. And that is a VERY BAD THING.
To be fair, I do everything like a fat chick. I breathe like a fat chick. I sleep like a fat chick. I dress like a fat chick. Because… I AM a fat chick!
According to Ms Santos-Longhurst, dating like a fat chick is a bad thing. On her page, she outlines why this is a bad thing, because apparently fat chicks do the following:
– always the best friend who chums around with a guy and even gives him advice about other women all while pining after him.
-the easy lay who has sex with any and everyone because they feel it’s the only way to get the affection and attention they crave.
– the needy and desperate woman who gets walked all over and jumps through hoops to keep a man in fear that no one else will want her.
–women who limit their dating to fat-friendly sites or even limit themselves to specific races who are said to prefer fat women because they fear they’ll be rejected by dating the “regular” way.
That’s a whole lot of assumptions to make about how fat chicks behave when dating. Not to mention a whole lot of very negative assumptions. Now, speaking for myself, that’s not really my method in the dating world, so it’s a pretty rich assumption to make about how we fat chicks date. But hey, some fat chicks do date like that (so do a lot of thin chicks) and it’s a pretty hostile attitude to hold towards the way some women choose to date. I’ll come back to that a bit later.
I understand that some of the underlying message Ms Santos-Longhurst is trying to get at is that many fat women suffer from confidence and self-esteem issues. That no doubt comes from a genuine, good place of wanting to help. But… this doesn’t help. Shaming women, particularly fat women who are already shamed at every turn, for having low self-esteem and lacking confidence, is not going to help them. Saying “Men treat you badly because you act like a doormat.” lays the blame at the feet of the victim, not the perpetrator. It’s not anyone’s fault that someone treats them badly – ever. If someone is treating you like a doormat, then they are the one who are behaving badly and should be shamed, not you. This is a very victim-blaming methodology that Ms Santos-Longhurst has adopted.
I also have a problem with the whole desperate/needy cliché. Have you ever noticed how often the concept of desperate/needy are applied mostly to women? That somehow, women when they have feelings for someone and want them reciprocated are desperate and needy, but when men do the same it’s coded as romantic, devoted, determined. With a caveat – thin, pretty women are sometimes allowed to be romantic/devoted/determined. But fat chicks – if we have feelings and want them reciprocated, ew gross, don’t be so needy! Don’t be so desperate!
Unrequited feelings are messy. We’ve all been there. But the answer is not deciding that you’re pathetic for having unrequited feelings. The answer is realising that we’ve all been there, and that it is possible to get past those feelings and move on with your life. The answer is going “Well, if you don’t like me, that’s your loss.” and not letting it smash your self-esteem even further. It’s not hating yourself for those feelings.
The next thing that brings me to is the idea of women who limit their dating to fat-friendly sites or people who prefer fat women. Let’s just note the inherent racism in the way Ms Santos-Longhurst has framed it too – she hasn’t named any particular race but most of us already know that very racist stereotype. Some fat women do indeed stick to fat-friendly dating environments. And that is perfectly acceptable. There is nothing wrong with choosing to involve yourself in community and environments that accept you and understand you and are tailored for you. I’m not saying that those environments aren’t fraught with issues, but let’s face it, who hasn’t been objectified or fetishised while walking down the street, or on some non-fat-focused website? I also find it deeply problematic that she seems to exclude these environments from what she calls “dating the regular way”. What is dating the regular way? He comes over and is interrogated by your father first? Writes in your dance card? Takes you to for coffee the first date, dinner the second date, movies the third? The assumption that there actually is some “regular” way to date in 2014 is pretty crappy. People meet one another and date all kinds of different ways. Sometimes they meet at work, or through friends, or on a dating site, through a kink club, or sometimes they fuck outside a nightclub and then realise that they’re meant for each other. All of them are valid ways to date. There is no “regular” way that is more acceptable than any other.
Which brings me to the thing that REALLY made me go “Oh hell no!” Yes, that big old stinking pile of slut shaming there on point two. That silly fat girl who is an “easy lay” – the dirty slut! Here’s the thing folks. Fuck any consenting adult you want to fuck, as many times as you want to fuck them. Whether you think they’re the love of your life, or you just want to come and a cuddle. Fuck a bunch of consenting adults if you want to. So long as everyone involved is a consenting adult, fuck away to your heart’s content. That doesn’t make you an “easy lay” and there’s nothing at all wrong with having a whole bunch of sex if that’s what you want to do. There’s nothing wrong with having NO sex if that’s what you want. There’s nothing wrong with having a bit of sex if that works for you too. Darlings, you get to decide that. Anyone who shames you for your sexuality when it is between consenting adults is a jerk.
Again, I get the underlying thing Ms Santos-Longhurst is getting at is about confidence and self-esteem, but unfortunately the way she is going about it is damaging to a whole lot of people’s confidence and self-esteem. Instead of telling “fat chicks” that “you’re doing it wrong and it’s all your fault”, I believe the way to build women’s confidence is to point out just how valid their feelings are, to establish that we are the ones who have final say over our own lives and our own bodies, and the biggie – show them that other people’s shitty behaviour is not their fault.
If you’re a fat chick, and are finding the whole dating thing awkward and painful and embarrassing… guess what? That’s normal! Dating and relationships are weird and awkward and sometimes painful for everybody. They’re also wonderful and rewarding and delicious sometimes too. But they’re not perfect. They’re work. The fairytale is just that… a fairytale.
But here’s to all the fat chicks who live their lives like fat chicks. Don’t let anyone shame you for being a fat chick.
Dating and relationships are weird and awkward
AMEN TO THAT …
I take more offense at being called a chick (that I am not) than at her dating advice. I do not live for a cock (ornithology, not what you think) while waiting patiently in a group of other hens till it is my turn. A chick, really? Ms Santos-Longhurst has a pretty dismal view of female life. Last time I checked I was a mammal. *Looks down* Yes, confirmed, mammal.
Yes, I’m not fond of the term “chick” either, but that’s a topic for another post and in the sense of the dating world, and the whole “No Fat Chicks” attitude many men have, it is relevant to the subject.
I think it’s good advice. It means: don’t allow fatness to define your identity, your self-esteem, your levels of self-confidence and your perceptions of how attractive a woman you are. As a fat woman, I treat my fatness as a footnote, something to be acknowledged (i.e. I’m not in a state of denial about it) but not something that’s absolutely central to my identity!!
But Jane V, that’s how YOU treat your fatness. That doesn’t mean it’s the ONLY way to see fatness or that any other way is wrong. If you see your fatness that way, that’s fine. My problem is when people disparage those who choose a different path, which is the dichotomy that page presents.
My fatness IS central to my identity. It is for a lot of fat women That doesn’t make us broken, unable to have a fulfilling love life or somehow bad. That doesn’t make us something that people like Ms Santos-Longhurst need to “cure”.
I’ve followed you for ages & while I don’t agree with everything you say, you really are a force of nature and an overwhelmingly positive one. Keep on truckin’ Fatheffalump.
I have always prided myself on my ability to let things roll off my back and to be able to not let the opinions of strangers get to me. While I fully expected that some people might misinterpret my message when I opted to use the term “fat chick” front and center in my book’s title, I didn’t expect to be accused of slut shaming. SLUT SHAMING! This is something that I take VERY personally and cannot just let slide without a response.
Firstly, my book is intended as a big “F-you” to the term fat chick and to show women that they don’t need to apologize for their size when it comes to dating or anything else. It’s also intended to show women that being fat is NOT a bad thing and it doesn’t need to make you feel like you have to tweak the way you date or look for love, or even sex. The term “fat chick” in my book is NOT about being a fat woman–something that is explained in detail in the book.
I understand that I can’t please everyone and there will always be someone out there who won’t like/agree with what I say or write and for that reason I will resist the urge to post multiple pages of my manuscript to try to make them understand. But in regard to the slut shaming, I will post an excerpt from the book that might help to dispel this insulting accusation. Why bother? Because I have lived my life encouraging others to go after what they want—in and out of the bedroom—and not let anyone or anything else stand in their way. I am a published author of erotica and sex writer who has spent years encouraging women to enjoy a full and exciting sex life with whomever they please with no apologies, even sharing my own sexcapades on occasion. To be accused of “slut shaming” hit a nerve because it was completely inaccurate.
My reference was to women who feel that the only way to get affection or attention is to have sex and settle for it when what they really want is love or a commitment. I am all about having all the sex that you want with as many people as you want so long as it is what you do indeed want. In my book I make it very clear that a woman shouldn’t feel that she has to apologize for embracing her sexuality and I even devote an entire chapter to it! As a matter of fact, I have a paragraph/chapter that addresses all the points that you have brought up and what you have written is actually quite similar. Unfortunately, I would need to post much more of my book to get that across.
Perhaps the blurb on my website could use some tweaking. Maybe I should have taken more time to explain the point I am trying to make with the book and what I am trying to accomplish with it. Thankfully, most people get it. Perhaps those who had their concerns should have taken the time to try to understand my point of view before making accusations. I’ll do my part. That’s the best I can do.
I appreciate that you’ve responded here. Before I continue, I have redacted the excerpt from your book as I see it as promotional and removing it does not alter the general message of your comment. I need to make it clear, I am not responding to your book, as I have never read it. I am responding to that page that is promoting your message/philosophy.
There is one important thing to know about intentions… they don’t matter*. Yes, maybe you do have the intention of being helpful and supportive towards fat women – but unfortunately the way you choose to frame that is more hindrance than help. By denigrating the term “fat chicks” you’re in fact denigrating the very women that you’re supposed to be helping. You’re saying “Don’t be one of THOSE women.” You’re punishing the victim, not the perpetrator by making “fat chick” a target of scorn. The language of your promotional page repeatedly draws a line that implies that there is a right/normal/regular way to be a woman and engage in dating and then there are the ways the “fat chicks” do it. That DOES NOT help.
I stand by my call of slut shaming. It all rests in that awful term “easy lay”? Again, it’s setting up the dichotomy of there are those women who have sex for the right reasons, then there are those who are an “easy lay” – yet again blaming the victim and suggesting that they are somehow broken, faulty, damaged goods. With one hand you’re telling women to take charge of their sexuality, and with the other you’re using a misogynistic term like “easy lay”. That’s not helping women.
If you intend (again, those intentions… not magical beans that cure everything) to show women that being fat is not a negative thing, why make your whole premise about not being one of “THOSE fat chicks”? Instead of targeting fat women (chicks) at all, how about showing women how to steer clear of THOSE doucebags who treat fat women like doormats?
The problem doesn’t lie with those of us who object to the message you’re giving. It’s not a matter of us not understanding what you are saying or that we haven’t tried to understand your point of view – the problem lies with how you are communicating that message which clearly shows your point of view. It’s a passive-aggressive way of saying “you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re not intelligent enough to understand”. Gaslighting at it’s most insipid.
I get what you’re saying… I just don’t like the way you’re saying it.
*For anyone who wishes to read more about harm despite intent, Melissa McEwen at Shakesville has a good post here: http://www.shakesville.com/2011/12/harmful-communication-part-one-intent.html
I wish there was a way to have you sitting on my shoulder when I hear and see things that are so offensive and I want to respond. You have an incredibly articulate way of describing your point, making accurate and relevant references and getting your thoughts across respectfully. I am, in other areas, fairly articulate myself. But my fatness, and my femaleness and all that encompasses are the one place where my brain fails me and I either get very angry or very sad.
I’m about to sound fangirl-like, but in the year and a half I’ve read your blog you’ve taught me a great deal about my own biases, my own blindness and privilege. In turn, it has given me a voice to speak out when I see or hear people “with good intent” saying hurtful, shaming or just down right jerky things.
Keep on doing what your doing. I know you can’t post all the time, but your posts are always worth the wait.
LizzyR thank you, such kind things to say! I must admit, all of it is a learned skill standing up to fatphobia and misogyny, that I still get wrong as much as I get right! The advantage of a blog is that I get to take the time and read over what I am saying again and again and hone it to be clear. Trust me, I get very angry and sad too. I find writing about it is a good way for me to channel that anger and sadness into something constructive, otherwise it just wears away at me like erosion.
I would love to post more but with a busy life I would rather post quality than quantity, you know? Bless being on holidays at the moment so that I can take the time to write a bit!
You are entitled to your opinion as we all are. Posting an excerpt from my book in my comment was not a way to “promote” it as I have other venues for that. It was to give you and those who read this post a clearer understanding of my point as well as the tone that I feel you are misinterpreting. I feel that removing it was unfair, but it’s your blog, your choice.Besides, if promotion was what I was after, well, you’re doing your part by writing about this in the first place.
You have the right to your opinion and having done this for a long time I know that there will always be someone who is not happy with what I write or what I think, but please do not go out of your way to put a negative spin on things and twist what I believe and promote into something sinister. “Dirty slut”, those are your words, not mine. Had you taken the time to learn anything about me or my other work you might think twice before accusing me of “slut shaming”.
Getting your back up about my use of the word fat or anyone else’s contributes to the problem. How can anyone ever embrace being fat when so many people treat it like it’s an insult or a bad thing?
The use of the term “fat chick” is in context with everything in my book. While I don’t appreciate having someone pass judgement after poo-pooing on me for supposedly passing judgement (when all I was actually doing was sharing some of the ridiculous stereotypes out there) I can’t just sit by an let them tell others what I do and don’t believe without at least trying to defend myself.
That’s all I am going to say about this. At the end of the day, my readers get it and appreciate it and those that matter also know who I am and what I believe and am trying to promote. I find it far more insulting to be called “jerk” or “douchecanoe” than fat or fat chick.
Adrienne I don’t think you’re very good at listening. Your latest comment is chock full of incorrect negative assumptions yet again. Let me count the ways:
1. Again, let me repeat myself, as I have not read your book, I am not referring to it, so there is no need for me to allow excerpts to be published in the comments. I’m referring to the material offered on your website. And if you consider this “promotion” of your work, let’s just say I don’t think it’s racking up any sales for you. But whatever floats your boat.
2. You don’t seem to be able to take responsibility for using the term “easy lay” at all, and keep trying to deflect it on me. It’s not my obligation or responsibility to research everything you ever said in the history of your work when I am focusing on one point that is right there and is unacceptable. Suggesting “if you took the time to learn anything about me or my other work” does not magically dissolve the blatant example of slut shaming right there for all to see on your page.
3. You’re the one who claims that “plus-size girls” should “stop dating like a fat chick” – how is that in any way a positive representation of the word fat? How are you destigmatising or embracing the word fat and fatness, when you are in fact telling people to “stop being like a fat chick”? Your logic is very flawed there. I’m the one who is called… wait for it… Fat Heffalump, and has been saying all along that I am the fat chick you are telling people to stop being. I am speaking for all of the fat chicks you keep saying are so bad.
4. Again with the gaslighting. I suggest you look that word up. You’re big on the terms like “poo-pooing” and “getting your back up” which are very common ways of derailing the conversation by suggesting that the other person is overly sensitive, or is silly. Instead of listening and thinking about what I am saying, you’re dismissing me and everyone else here instantly. That is not a good look for someone who purports to want to help people professionally.
5. Again you’re assuming that I find being called fat/fat chick a bad thing instead of actually listening to what I am saying. YOU are the one telling people to “stop dating like a fat chick” and listing the ways that “fat chicks” are bad. I have published that very list right here on this page to demonstrate exactly how you are denigrating fat chicks. You haven’t even bothered to read/understand that I am saying that the problem with your project is that you are telling fat women that they are the bad ones in the dating scene, and are not focusing on the bad behaviour of men towards fat women. It also seems that you are invested in defending bad-behaving men in this, instead of the women you are professing to want to help. Not ok.
You are correct, it is all you are going to say about this here on my blog unless you actually listen and stop gaslighting me and others. Because it’s a waste of my time to repeat myself over and over, and frankly, I’m kind of saving you from yourself – you’re really not making your work seem like something a lot of fat women should go near, let alone spend their money on.
I’m not single. I haven’t been single in a damn long time. But when I was single, I didn’t date like a ‘fat chick’ or a ‘thin chick’ or a ‘plus size girl’; I dated like me. I made some good choices and some dismal ones. Had some great dates and some epically lousy ones. Didn’t get a date with guys I longed for and wound up out with some guys that made me wonder what I’d been smoking when I agreed to go out in the first place. I had some wonderful surprises with guys who didn’t seem that great on the surface and was disappointed when some very shiny surfaces turned out to be the top layer of… just more shiny surface.
That’s what darting is like for most people, male or female, gay or straight, fat or thin, and all points in between the extremes in all dichotomies.
To further divide us up by fat chick and plus size girl is truly insulting to me, especially when one of these is the stereotype of the sad, lonely fat girl who pitifully attempts to assuage her feelings of alienation in unwanted casual sex and gallons of ice cream. It places the blame for low self-esteem on the person suffering from it and punishes her further rather than on a society that carefully cultivates and reaffirms low-self-esteem over body size every time we turn on the television or surf the web.
And I have to agree with Kath on the slut shaming point. It’s not presented as a question of whether a woman is having sex because she feels obligated, but as an assumption that if a woman sleeps with more than one partner she must be trying desperately to fill an emotional void caused by her feeling unattractive. I do consider that slut shaming. The woman reading the promotional materials isn’t invited to decide how she feels about her sexual behavior. Rather, she is informed of what it ‘really means’ when she makes the choices she does. So yes, slut shaming and infantalizing.
Which brings me to the question of why we are not women. We are given the choice of being a chick or being a girl. We are not offered the option of being adult. And isn’t that the heart of the matter? If we are adults, we get to decide how we wish to behave and what that behavior means to us.
Should I ever find myself single again (which I sincerely hope I don’t because I’m all kinds of in love with my husband), then any dating I do will be as a woman and as an individual. It will not be as a ‘chick’ a ‘girl’ or a body size. I am fat. I am happy. Anyone who dates me will have to accept that my fat body is not changing… but at the end of the day, I am one individual kickass woman and I will approach my life from that perspective.
Wow. That was a whole lotta wrong in those assumptions. No, you shouldn’t waste time on people who treat you like shit. If you find yourself doing that, I hope you will look someplace other than this article for answers. Yeesh.
The easy lay thing always pisses me off. Women’s self worth is always tied to how little we have sex. If you have sex too much, too “easily” then you don’t respect yourself.
No, actually I do respect myself. I respect myself enough to place my value as a human being on how low the number of people I’ve had sex with is. I respect myself enough that if I want to have casual sex with someone who is only after sex with me, because I’m only after sex with them, I’m going to do it. I respect myself enough to know that I like sex, sex is fun, and I like casual sex. I respect myself enough to do thing I like regardless of sexism. I respect myself enough to not let sexist notions about women’s worth dictate my life and happiness.
Oh, and I’m also a fat chick. And being fat does not mean that me liking casual sex is because I don’t have confidence (actually I find that casual sex requires a far deal of confidence), that I don’t respect myself, or that I think I’m undeserving of real love and real relationships. Of course I’m deserving of real love and commitment. Casual sex is not how I go about finding love. It’s how I go about having sex because sex is fun when I meet someone and we mutually want to have sex with each other but also mutually are not interested in anything else with each other.
Agreed with commenters above, there’s multiple problems happening here. Without having read the book either, and without ever having heard of this author or her blog, but just reading the summary above, I would say that that sort of advice is problematic. I dislike it when people over-embrace euphemism and refuse to just say fat. I also would really be nervous about taking dating advice from someone who differentiates between an “easy lay” and everyone else. I also dislike the assumptions made about fat women being desperate – that’s not a fat issue, that’s a self-esteem issue. That transcends weight. I’ve known both men and women who are both fat and thin who have stayed in relationships because of fear or low self-esteem. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not a weight-related issue.
Having briefly looked at the author’s page describing her book, I think she sounds like she’s trying to undermine stereotypes, but the wording isn’t that great. I do agree, it does make it sound like she’s framing “fat chicks” as a class of fat that you don’t want to be in. She’s set up the title to sound like it’s fat chicks vs plus size girl…and that makes me a bit squeamish as well. Maybe the book does dismantle stereotypes…that remains to be seen. I’m willing to keep an open mind.
I think the blurb on her website probably could use some tweaking.
Wow, I couldn’t have read this at a better time! I’m suddenly back out in the dating world after 18 years of marriage, and I am dating like a fat woman because I AM a fat woman. This is who I am, and I don’t need some list telling me how not to date. Fat or not, I know better than to behave like the needy, manipulative, insecure lump.
Newsflash: I know lots of skinny women who are “easy lays” or who become besties with a man while secretly pining for him. That’s not exclusive to fat chicks.
A.J. I wish you luck in the dating world. Remember, expect respect, settle for someone who makes you feel like you’re filled with light, not drags you into the dark. And never let anyone tell you fat ain’t all that!
I will do that! Thank you!
So, just for backstory for anyone else reading my comment – I had a discussion about the graphic used to promote this book, as well as the webpage described in the post above, with the author on Twitter. After I made my woe/distress/anger clear we discussed it for a small duration of tweets, before she reached out to me privately on Facebook. I declined to discuss the matter further due to having such a strong reaction to what I was reading and knowing I wouldn’t be convinced that anything I had read was a “good” thing.
This whole concept – particularly the “explanatory” website hurt my heart and angered my mind SO MUCH, that I physically reacted to it, wanting to be sick. It surprised me how much of a reaction it created within me, and I had to move away from discussion on it. I am an incredibly strong person and this type of hurtful material doesn’t usually effect me at all. I think I was SO blindsided by the content though, that I couldn’t stop myself having the reaction I did.
I am strong and very happy in myself, but all the content (I read) that Adrienne is using to promote her book, makes me desperately pained, angry and sad for women. Particularly for (Fat) Women without self esteem and who don’t know they shouldn’t pay attention to this type of marketing.
To me, and as I wrote on Twitter, the material IS shaming (100%), it is nasty – and it hurts women.
I can’t stay on this topic as my feelings about it are so palpable, but I really appreciate you reaching out to me on Twitter, Kath. I am also grateful you wrote this post and have started a discussion I can sit and follow. Em.
Thanks Em for clarifying. I can totally understand your feelings about this. It just sat so poorly with me too, I had to talk about it. Too many women are taught to blame themselves when they are treated poorly by men while dating, and fat women cop far more than they deserve, simply because they are fat.
I agree. I admit my first thought was that maybe she was referring to some sort of “stereotype” and wasn’t sure of the fullness of the situation (that happens a lot with me, I admit), but hearing you guys talking about it, I agree with you and Em that to someone who is struggling to accept themselves for who they are to read that would probably be a major setback in their self-esteem. NOT a good way to plug a book you’re selling, by any means!
Ugh! It burns up my last nerve when people want to tell me who I am and what I think and how I act entirely based on how I look. Stop being so lazy people and start getting to know the person not the stereotype.