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.