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More on That Louie Scene

Published May 25, 2014 by Fat Heffalump

I had intended to run this post a few days ago, but the working week got the better of me (the crescendo of the financial year is always so intense), and I’m a little bit later than planned.  But it’s still important and I know some of you want to expand the discussion more from the previous post – thank you for your patience and keeping in topic!

So last post I was talking about the scene from Louie with the rather amazing Sarah Barker giving a stellar performance as a fat girl on a date.  My last post was a response to the criticisms of her statement that it sucks to be a fat woman were not a win for fat activism.  If you still haven’t seen the scene, or need a refresher, you can check it out here.

It’s important to note that I do have issues with Louis CK and his TV show.  But I’m not talking about those here.

Today I want to respond to some of the fatosphere criticisms of the scene with regards to dating and relationships.

The major criticisms that I have seen that bother me are:

  • She is begging for attention/to have her hand held.
  • That plenty of hot men want to date fat women, why did she go out with one that was reluctant to date her/be seen with her.
  • Men don’t want to date her because she is whiny and annoying, not because she’s fat.
  • It portrays single fat women as “pathetic” or desperate.
  • She’s “settling” when she says she doesn’t want a boyfriend or a husband.
  • Why doesn’t she just join a BBW dating site?

I find these criticisms extremely problematic.

The first thing that I have a problem with is the way that many perceive her as begging/whining/annoying.  I think that reaction actually reflects the point she makes to Louis about the double standard between when men and women talk about how hard it is to date while being fat – how he can get up on stage and joke about being single and a fat guy and people think it’s adorable, but if she tries to talk about how hard it is for her, people call the suicide hotline.  To me, suggesting she is begging/whining is deeply misogynistic.  She’s being very clear about what bothers her about the way she is treated, and she’s also calling Louis out for behaving in a way that she finds really disappointing.  She expected better of him.  But because she is a woman, it is instantly read as whining/begging.  However if a man were to outline when someone’s behaviour bothered him, he’d be considered assertive and honest.

The next point that bothers me is the suggestion that there are “plenty of hot men who want to date fat women” and “why doesn’t she just join a BBW dating site?”  I think that this reaction to the scene also demonstrates exactly what she is talking about.  She asks Louis if he has ever dated a fat girl, and quickly pulls him up when he starts to say yes and says “I didn’t ask if you’ve fucked a fat girl, every guy has done that.”  She’s calling out the constant fetishisation and objectification of fat women.  Those “plenty of hot men who want to date fat women” on BBW sites are in the majority not looking to date a fat woman – they’re fetishizing/objectifying us.  Hands up if you’ve ever been involved with a man who is all too happy to sleep with you in private, but won’t take you out for dinner, or hold your hand in public, or introduce you to his friends?  She quite rightly says that if she had offered Louis sex, he’d have taken it up straight away… what if that’s not what you want from a partner?  There is nothing, NOTHING wrong with wanting to have a romantic relationship with someone, and to want them to put some effort into that relationship.  She’s right, any woman who is willing can get laid.  But it is exceptionally difficult to find men who are willing to date fat women in the same way that they would a thin woman.

Another criticism I find difficult to accept are those asking why she is bothering with Louis if he doesn’t get it (settling).  That’s the judgement we all have to make on all of our interpersonal relationships with people who don’t quite get fat activism.  We don’t live in a bubble of fat positivity, we live in the real world and it means making decisions about whether people are worth having in your life.  Do you take up the challenge of educating them, getting them to see how their behaviour is problematic, or do you just move on.  Sure, pick your battles, some people really aren’t worth your time.  But some people are.  Some people, while initially not getting it, are more than willing to listen and work through it.  That’s what you have to decide.  I’ve not that long ago dated a guy who kept putting his foot in it, not quite understanding what bothered me, but he was willing to listen, and asked me how to get it right.  Sure, it gets frustrating at times, but I never felt that it was “settling” for me to continue to see him.  One of the greatest moments with someone who “doesn’t get it” is that moment that the penny drops and they DO get it.  I love that moment!  Some of the most important people in my life today were really defensive at first, but I thought they were worth keeping around, and now they’re my staunchest allies.

But the one that really sticks in my craw is the suggestion that this portrays a fat woman as “pathetic”.  Why?  Why is it pathetic for a fat woman to call a man out for a crappy attitude/behaviour and state clearly what she wants?  Why is it pathetic for a fat woman to say that she wants a man who will be proud to be with her and put some effort into dating her?  It’s interesting that whenever a man shows vulnerability or wants a romantic relationship, it’s sweet and romantic, but if a fat woman does the same, it’s “pathetic” and “needy”?

Interestingly, those within fat activism that have been the most vocal in suggesting that this portrays fat women as pathetic are those who have the privilege of being in a relationship of whatever form themselves.  It makes me really side eye them as supposed allies… do they really think those of us who are single and are interested in dating a man who is proud to be seen with us and puts some effort into us as “pathetic”?

I want all of you to know there is nothing wrong with being vulnerable.  There is nothing wrong with speaking about what you want and expect from relationships.  There is nothing pathetic about wanting to be in a relationship.

Personally, I found this entire scene empowering, because it articulates a lot of things that I feel and represents situations I have been in myself.  That’s what I want to see in television – realistic portrayals of the lives of fat women.  I don’t just want to see us lampooned or turning ourselves into cariacatures (a la Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids).  I want to see realistic fat women in realistic situations. Awkward conversations, guys being jerks and then getting called out on it, fat women who are angry, disappointed, exasperated, and fed up, people who don’t quite get it but are willing to try, and sometimes getting that wrong too.

I want to see all representations of fat women, not just those that tick all the Fat Activism 101 boxes.

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Men Who Make a Difference

Published April 18, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

It’s not secret that I love Craig Ferguson.  Not only is he cute and funny, I love how intelligent, opinionated, passionate and articulate he is.  I bookmark a stack of videos, pics, quotes and things about him each week and usually Sunday is my internet catch up day, where I go back and take a look at all the bits and bobs I’ve saved for later.

I found this video via Tumblr.  Take a look, especially for the bit at the end, from around the 7:11 mark:

I knew what the subject matter was in that bit, in fact I’d seen a transcript of his comments on the Rhianna/Chris Brown thing, but what I didn’t expect was my reaction.

I fully expected to cheer a bit, say “YES!” and basically be impressed that Craig has had the guts to say something about it.

What I didn’t expect, was to quietly start crying.

Even though I have been safely removed from my abuser for over 15 years, there is still pain.  Even though I know now that the abuse wasn’t my fault, it still hits somewhere deeply when I think of what I and other women have suffered and are suffering.

A lot of good men say it doesn’t matter if they say anything against domestic violence.  They think that their voice against such abuse is pointless and doesn’t change anything.  I know it feels that way, in the face of “smack the bitch around” jokes and comments about how women just get to men so much that there is nothing they can do in retaliation but become abusive.  I know that it feels like it makes a man powerless to speak up, or that it’s pointless.

I am here to say that it is not pointless.  It does matter.  You are not powerless in speaking up against men who are abusive towards women and children.

It matters most to those of us who have suffered and are still suffering.  To hear a man say that hitting women is not acceptable means more than I can put into words.  It gives us heart that there are men out there who would never dream of hurting the people that they love.  Especially when being hurt by the person who is supposed to love you the most is all some women and children know.  It gives us hope that someone is speaking up with those of us who are victims and survivors.

Most importantly, it gives power to women and children who are being abused by the men in their lives to make a change and get out of that situation.

So the next time you hear of a case of domestic abuse dear good men, and I now know you are out there, in the past 15+ years I’ve been fortunate to have many of you come into my life as friends, colleagues, and even romantic interests, do speak up.  Say something.  Say something publicly.

Because you DO make a difference, it does matter.  I thank those of you who do.

Desperate and Dateless? I Think Not!

Published November 14, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Following up from my last post about the whole world of fun that opens up when a woman declines a man’s attention, I want to talk a bit more tonight about fat women, dating, romance and sex.

Now I don’t proclaim to be an expert on the subject in any way, because it’s such a bizarre thing that is totally individual to every person on this earth.  But I do have my experiences and the bits I’ve learned, and I know there are a lot of fatties out there that are completely baffled by the whole subject, so let’s talk about it a bit, and maybe get some things right.

There is this perception that fat women are desperate and dateless.  That they’re at home on a Saturday night pining over their lack of prospective romantic partners.   Hang on, I AM at home on a Saturday night!  Oops!  But that is out of choice after a long tiring week, not because I’m some sad lonely heart.

Guess what?  Fat women aren’t desperate and dateless.  They’re not completely ignored by men because “nobody will have them.”  In my experience, and remember I am post-35 years old, I’ve never had any time of my life where I haven’t had some male attention.  That’s not always been the kind of males I would like attention from, but no more than receiving attention from the males that I do want the attention from.  Fat women get married, have hot sex, are seen as beautiful and do live happily ever after.

Yes, I am still single.  I am aware of this, so you don’t need to leave the whole “But you’ve not got married yet, so you’re still desperate.” comment.  Had that one before, surprise, surprise.  YAWN.  But being single is not some failure to find a partner.  Being single is about where you are on the road of life, the people who have come into your life and at what point, and a whole lot of choices.

What I think many fat women do lack is confidence and good self esteem.  They are often more “gun-shy” than their slimmer counterparts, simply because when they have suffered rejection (and every single human suffers rejection, not just fat people), it has been particularly nasty and cruel.  The guy who rejects the slim girl is less likely to insult her as viciously about it.

And when you consider how attractive confidence is, it’s no wonder that fat women often feel very intimidated about the whole dating thing.  It becomes a vicious circle.  Fat woman is rejected horribly, loses confidence, avoids the situation, loses more confidence, feels unattractive and worthless, and so on.

I know, I have been there myself for large chunks of my life, until I started to gain the confidence and stronger self esteem that I have built up today.  It’s a tough place to be in, but there is life outside of that.

The thing is, there are plenty of great men out there that love fat women.  I don’t mean fetishists, though of course we all know they exist.  But good men who love the shape of their beautiful, bountiful fat women, and who find women attractive for more than just some magazine media/Hollywood ideal of beauty.  If there weren’t, April Flores wouldn’t be such a popular porn star!

I’ve been on dates with (and in some cases, dated exclusively) all kinds of men.  Young men, older men, fat men, thin men, sporty men, men that would be considered “super handsome”, men who have big old issues and even a few douchebags.  It’s all a process of elimination really – meeting guys and eliminating those that aren’t suitable for whatever reason.

One of the difficulties of being a fatty in the dating world is that low confidence and self esteem often have the fat woman thinking that there’s no way that the guy who has just paid her attention is interested in her.  She tells herself he’s just being nice, or he’s gay (cos let’s face it, fat women and gay men go together like strawberries and cream – I have so many gay male friends, it’s awesome.) or that he’s a douchebag setting her up to be a jerk to her (who hasn’t experienced that one in high school, hmmm?)

What happens is she doesn’t believe that the guy paying her attention is genuinely interested, so she rejects him out of self protection, and then he’s hurt too.  See the vicious cycle forming?

As fat women, we need to find some confidence in ourselves.  Because often that’s the strongest thing that holds us back.  When we encounter the douchebags, we need to hold our heads high, look them in the eye and say “Fuck you!” and remember that THEY are the douchebag, not us because we have fat bodies.  When a man is kind to us or pays us positive attention, we need to accept it as just that – kindness and positive attention.  Smile and say thank you and enjoy it.

Recently I struck up a conversation with an attractive man I was seeing in my day to day travels regularly.  He was always very polite and friendly, and one day he made it clear he’d like a chat.  So we talked.  Each time we saw each other afterwards, we talked some more.  He mentioned that he may not be in the same place for awhile, as his circumstances might be changing, so I figured “What the hell, I’ll give him my card.”  I handed him my card and said “If you disappear from the regular spots, here’s my email address.”

I would never have done this a few years ago, simply because I didn’t have the confidence and was terrified of rejection.   But with the confidence and stronger self worth I have built over the past years, my thought was “What the hell, life is short and he’s nice, I’m pretty sure he won’t be a douche.”  And he wasn’t.  But if he had been, I could have handled it too.  Now I’m enjoying a new friendship, some flirtation and who knows where it will go.

The thing is, there are a lot of people in this world, and everyone has really wide and varied tastes, values, needs and stages in their lives.  Don’t let the douchebags of the world put you off living your life, and believing that there are people out there who see you for the amazing person you are.

Under No Obligation

Published November 10, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

This isn’t just a post about being fat.  It’s also a post about being a woman.  The two are very much linked together, because fat actually is a feminist issue.  It’s not only a feminist issue, but it is still one.

One of the problems with being fat and being female, is that in Western society at least, and probably in others, women’s bodies, and women themselves, are often considered public property.  Women’s bodies are commented on and critiqued.  They are touched, felt, groped, stood over and dominated.

Even when it’s not intended to be a menacing thing, women’s bodies are public property.  Ask any woman who is, or who has been pregnant what it’s like having complete strangers paw over her belly, comment on her shape and ask inappropriately personal questions.

When a woman’s body is fat, it’s subject to judgement and derision, comment and criticism.  A woman’s morals are judged by her body.  Slender, pretty women are “lovely, sweet, take care of themselves, angelic” etc.  Fat women who don’t fit traditional beauty standards are “lazy, gluttinous, slothful, sloppy, dirty” etc.

Of course, it’s totally wrong.  Body shape and physical attributes have absolutely no reflection on the morals and values of the person within.

Because women are so often treated as objects, not people, we have to endure a lot of behaviours from men that we shouldn’t have to endure.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE MEN.  Whooooweee, do I love the fellas.  Not only cos I find men sexy creatures that I would like to do sexy things with, but also because I generally enjoy the company of men the most.  Except for those men that exhibit the attitudes and behaviours that I’m about to talk about.

If a man speaks to a woman in public, and she does not respond, or is not interested in him, she is not a bitch, a slut, whore, fat cow or a lesbian.   She is under absolutely no obligation at all to respond or pay attention to any man.  Her avoidance or disinterest is not an invitation for that man to aim hostility, ridicule or abuse in her direction.  It is simply what it is – disinterest, and she is allowed to be disinterested.  It is not a crime.

Guys – if a woman buries her nose in her book, or plugs in her iPod, or turns away from you – leave her alone.  This is her way of telling you she does not wish to be disturbed by you.  This is not an invitation for you to harass her, insult her or assault her.  Women are taught from a very young age not to argue, to not make a fuss, to behave in a “ladylike manner”.  So these are her cues to leave her alone.  It’s likely she’s not going to say “Go away.” or “Leave me alone.”  because she has been taught to “not make a fuss”.  Or she has had an experience where she has told a man to go away, and he has actually got MORE abusive, MORE persistent with her, so she’s trying to avoid that.

If she is talking, laughing, or paying attention to another man, this also does not  mean that she has to pay attention to you by default.  She is allowed to choose which men she gives her attention to, just as you are allowed to choose which woman you pay attention to.  That does not make her a bitch or a snob, it just is her choice.

If she is a fat woman, she is not desperate.  She does not have to be “grateful” for your attention.  Or anyone else’s attention for that matter.  She is not just waiting for someone, ANYONE to pay her attention.  She is not an easy target for you to sleep with either, because again, she is not desperate.  She is just fat.  Just because you think she is unworthy or somehow deficient for being fat, doesn’t necessarily mean that other people, indeed, other men feel the same way.

If a woman is not interested in you, she is not interested in you.  Move on.  Behave like a decent human being, and you may find the next woman you approach will be interested in you.

It is not true that nice guys never get the girl.  They do, they just don’t behave like a douchebag about it.