Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Yes, there is a closet.

Gawker recently posted a blind item from Buzzfoto in their gossip column:
This actor, known mostly for his great hair and good looks over his acting ability, might surround himself with stick thin supermodels at times, but we're told he has a 'big girl fetish.' He scours the internet for listings and photos of lovely, big, and curvaceous women and hooks up with them whenever possible!
There are a lot of closets to find fascinating in the weird world in which we live, but this one--the men-who-like-big-girls closet--is my favorite. Well, it's not my favorite; it's not fun--it's hurtful and depressing--but it sure is chronically fascinating. It is a real thing, filled with a wild mix of people. I find it especially interesting because most people don't know it's there, as is often the way with closets. (Why would you even need that closet--nobody likes fat women anyhow, right? You might get saddled with a fat woman as you age and make the best of it, but nobody chooses them from the outset, yes?)

I saw the blind item in a blog entry by Tami Winfrey Harris, whose writing I like, in which she said:
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how sick we are about weight in America.

I am accustomed to blind gossip items being the domain of cheating spouses, drug addictions, five-finger discounts and other bad celebrity behavior. Apparently, loving a little junk in the trunk and meat on the bones is a) a fetish (Curious that a love of underweight models is never deemed a "fetish.") and b) a moral sin comparable to crack addiction.

I'll alert my husband to beware the vice squad.
She is quite right that it's all ridiculous, that "fetish" is the wrong word here, and that model beauty is a very weird norm, but I also think she might be missing something by pointing a finger at the gossip writer and not at the facts (can you even use that term about a blind item?). She, in a way, would also seem to be saying: why do you even need that closet?, although for opposite reasons than those I described above--she's saying it shouldn't be weird to like big women (it shouldn't). But the truth either way is that the FA closet (I am going to use the sometimes divisive industry standard term here: "FA" stands for fat admirer) is a really deep one and isn't just a media construct.

If a young actor "known mostly for his great hair and good looks over his acting ability" likes somewhat acceptably chubby or unacceptably fat women, wherever you're drawing the line, and on whatever side of it he falls, then he is in the closet. Either way. Other than women who generally top out in the size 12/14 range, such as Pierce Brosnan's wife Keely Shayle Smith and Freddy Rodriguez's wife Elsie, name one contemporary high-profile entertainer who walks the red carpet with a more-or-less-consistently-fat girl on his arm. (Women like Mo'Nique, Gabourey Sidibe, and Dawn French, who are the celebrities in those cases, are separate from the issue I'm addressing, although maybe Lenny Henry could be our exception here--I can't say.)

Think about it. You can name a flurry of people who say positive things about size, or sing songs about fat girls, or paint fat women, or maybe once admitted [nsfw] to sleeping with a fat girl, and most everyone either used to or still does obsess about their weight, or "struggles" with it, so that the issue of size becomes relevant to everybody (I think just drawing breath in 2011 makes that happen)--but that's different. I'm talking about celebrities who choose to date or marry actual fat women and are actually seen doing so. It's pretty difficult to point to any images of it happening. I'm not saying people who say positive things about size but have thin partners are by definition in the closet, I'm just saying--when do you ever see the fat partners? Nor am I trying to sneer at size 12/14 types to say they're "not fat enough," I'm saying: that isn't actually the absolute end of the fat girl size rainbow--more like the beginning. Nor is whom you love a test of anything but whom you love, but (to say it again), when do you see a guy, whatever his size, with a big woman?

People probably assume you don't see fat girlfriends with celebrities because celebrities have earned the right to choose thatwhichismostdesirable (thin partners). And there's no getting around male celebrities' ability to re-up with new young wives as part of the equation. The fact, though, is that some men like fat women. They just do. (Usual thinking is 5-10% of the population--who knows).

Whoever thinks that the pressure to date thin people isn't real isn't really looking at the fanatical disgust with which fat is generally treated in our lives. If fat is disgusting, what does that make someone who is often, or even exclusively, attracted to fat people? Physically attracted? Someone perfectly capable of loving the whole person, but likes when it is a whole big person? The drone of Fat=Unhealthy, which has created a real "reason" and a million new ways to hate fat people, makes it all more tenacious too, because now not only do FAs' families and friends get to disapprove, they get to "justify" it, because how could you love somebody who is killing themselves with fat? We just want to help you honey.

Men who like large women: don't see in the media (especially in the white world) images of men, whatever size, with large women; can be ridiculed for liking them ("you must have been really drunk when you took that one home"); can be penalized professionally for being married to them. I know men married to large wives who have been told when their partner leaves the room that they have somebody in mind for them when they're ready to do better. I know men who lost friends and family for coming out of the FA closet.

Not every man is ready to risk that kind of criticism for themselves or is ready to risk subjecting someone they love to it. Not every man is ready to risk loving someone he's attracted to who doesn't fit the mold. Not every man is ready to risk facing the "guilt" of being attracted to an aspect of someone they love that will make them die young (or so the messages go). Not every man is ready to defend a sexual predilection or call it important, whatever their inclination toward divulging personal information.

Everybody's horny, though. Some FAs will not risk going public, but as ever, the horny will out--sort of. At least into the closet. Some closet cases park there for the rest of their life, surfing fat porn, buying sex, dating and sleeping with fat women on the DL. Many of them embody all the fat-hate and fat-lust within themselves, saying without any sense of disconnect, "Of course I wouldn't date her" about somebody they'll go to great lengths to spend time with. Closet cases can do a lot of damage to a population that can be pretty damaged already by the messages the world sends about how nobody will ever want you if you're fat.

You run into these guys as just a regular fat girl in the dating world: married men with trophy wives they're not attracted to and a never-ending extramarital career of dating fatties; the guy who claims he's attracted to all sorts of women although it gradually becomes clear he dates the thin ones in public and fucks the fat ones in private; men with two Facebook pages; the guys who want to come over to your house on your first date and won't be seen in public; the ambitious young academic who told me straight to my face he would never marry a woman my size but would always be most attracted to women who looked like me. They're out there.

I actually have sympathy for closet cases--to a degree. Nobody has a right to treat other people badly, but I understand where closeted thinking, at least, comes from. I know how easy it is to be a closeted fat person, to desperately try to not take up all of your needed space, to try to hide. I know how hard it must be to date people who often don't like the way they look, who find you in turn disgusting for liking something they hate about themselves. I know all the shitty cultural thinking about fat can skew things into the forbidden so strongly and at such a young age that it's pretty hard to put it straight.

For that reason I think closet cases need to be encouraged to come out, to work through their mixed, sometimes disgusted feelings and apprehensions, so that they can, you know--nut up and COME THE FUCK OUT. That would be the point there. As fat people always say when talking about this: I can't ultimately hide being fat, but you have the luxury of hiding. Who has it worse? Plus it's just sad. Life is short. You like what you like--why deny yourself it? Why hurt others, but why hurt yourself?

You have to wonder if a really high-profile celebrity FA came out what it would do to all this. I can't help thinking that it would do a lot of good if a famous man who was proud of his 350-lb wife just (wait for it)...went somewhere with her and was photographed while doing it (omgnoway!). More than once (noWAY!). Made it clear he was dating a fat woman. Held a fat woman's hand, escorted her with pride somewhere, let somebody take a photo and publish it. Whatever. Everyday stuff. The idea of such a photo seems startlingly revolutionary, more so even than a photo of just a fat woman, which is the biggest clue I can think of pointing to the closet's existence for people who don't get it. Fat women, when they are pictured, are pictured alone. Right now the only place you ever see an image of a man touching a fat woman is porn, but that's not because it's a fetish, that's because it's Not Okay anywhere else but damn if it doesn't have unstoppable momentum when it comes to our libidos. That is how closets work.

Last year, when rumors were swirling about a famous actor who secretly or not so secretly liked the fatties--please note, this is a favorite parlor game in Fatland; figuring out which celebrities might "really" like big girls from all sorts of clues--and the gossip is good, all the more because this shit comes out, yo--I thought that it might be cool to start doing flashmobs. Fat girl flashmobs, at this particular actor's appearances, or those of others known to be struggling with the closet. We would gather a group of 100 beautifully-dressed fat ladies, scatter ourselves in the crowd, then at an appointed time move forward to the front in a surge, so that as far as the eye can see there were gorgeously put-together fat women circling the celebrity in question, looking up at him like the little green aliens in Toy Story. We would not be shaming him or taunting him or indeed saying anything at all: just looking up and smiling, showing him and world what he likes in one long, long look, then walking away without a word.


  1. Great read! I have a few thoughts on this. I am not going to attempt to construct a coherent narrative so bear with me, these will be disorganized.

    First, I am an early twenties undergraduate man who is attracted to all sizes and shapes of women but prefers fatter ones. It is not an exclusive taste as but it also is not equally strong and common attraction across the spectrum. This happens to be why I was linked to this blog - my girlfriend is big and I want to do what I can to help her and the world know that she is as beautiful and wonderful as I know she is.

    Second, calling this sort of thing a fetish doesn't make sense. Preferring taller men or athletic women would not be considered a fetish, but preferring fat women (and probably men) is. This is certainly due to fatness being assumed to be an inherently negative trait which taste alone cannot explain. Screw that.

    Third, screw these guys in the closet. It is their own darn fault for staying in there. Yes, I understand that the closet is constructed by society's unwarranted negative views towards fatness, but it didn't put them in there, and it certainly didn't lock the door on them. And this isn't a closet like the gay closet. There isn't a "chubby chaser" basher outside the door, or family that will forsake one for bringing home a chubby girl. These guys need to sack up. First, they are denying themselves happiness by not getting with beautiful big girls and skulking around feeling ashamed of themselves, and, much more importantly, they are being horrible to these big girls they are acting ashamed to be around. Ladies, any man that is ashamed to be seen with you does not deserve you. Hopefully your father taught you that, be sure to teach your children that. These closet cases are sad sack misogynists.

    1. "There isn't a "chubby chaser" basher outside the door, or family that will forsake one for bringing home a chubby girl."

      Unfortunately, yes, there sometimes are these people. Guys can be incredibly cruel to other men who are into fat women (and also to the women themselves). Women can be really nasty about it, too. It's based on the idea that a fat woman is somehow worth less than a thin one, and, therefore, a man who prefers them is perceived to be less of a man or desperate.

  2. Hiya cv - thanks for your great comments, and yes I quite agree that 'fetish' is the wrong word. I think calling it a fetish probably helps keep people closeted.

  3. Bravo.......

    So many men who are closet FA's know nothing of the harm they do after a "relationship" ends. Women become bitter, and when the good guys come along, they are often treated as if they too are part of the usual suspects. For that alone, I'm not as forgiving as you are with regard to how they're handled.

    I'd love to see a crash course taught as to how to be a good FA, and then be forced to take a test before they can ask a fat girl on a date.

    While I personally have a problem with using the word fetish as it applies to relationships that I am in, I believe that word has some merit when it's used to describe the closet cases that use the sexual attraction to fat women as a means to an end for them. Good enough to sex up, but not good enough to be involved with, or show off. So while it's not focusing solely on the fat, it's the denial of who the other person in the relationship is that causes me to refer to it as a fetish.

  4. I myself am a bigger woman. I'm thrilled to see this blog and read the honesty poured out so freely. I would love to have a husband some day, but my career has been what has held me back...not my weight, as might be some people's first judgement of someone they do not know. I am smart, independent and driven. I know who I am, and am comfortable with that. If more people would 'come out of the closet', so to speak, the entertainment industry may find themselves in for a wonderful surprise. 'Fetish' is never a word I would use, as it comes no where near true love, and true love is always attained by the person inside that you meet, and thus fall in love with. Fat chicks don't have diseases, and they don't bite. You don't have to stay away from the animal exhibit, because we are not in them. Better still, take a chance and tell the whole world that yes, love in fact exists in many, many ways.

  5. I have lived and dealt with this sort of thing my whole life. I am always the one "good enough to fuck, but not good enough to date." And. It. Sucks.

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