Hanne Blank’s book “Big Big Love” defines Fat Admirers (FA) as “people who like, love, lust after or are just generally fond of fat people.” In some ways, this is a good explanation; it defines the basics of being an FA, liking fat people, oftentimes sexually, but it misses a lot of nuance. From how much the preference impacts our dating decisions, feeling ostracism, and the difficulties of being an FA or coming out as an FA, the term is far more complex.
First, there’s no prototypical fat type that an FA likes. Just as those who prefer thin people, they’re attracted to all types. Some have preference for bellies, others breasts, butts, double chins and fat faces or just fat in general. Nor is there a set weight amount that all FAs enjoy, or even a set idea of what constitutes “fat.” Everything is subjective and the need to confine people into set labels isn’t conducive to understanding of sexuality and should be eschewed. While the following explanations about being an FA may describe some people, they certainly don’t describe all, nor could they, given the vast array of human tastes and predilections.
A lot of us were once in the closet about being an FA.
The comparisons between being an FA and gay are not accidental; in many cases, FAs have borrowed the coming out cycle from the gay community. Those of us who find fat people sexually appealing, especially more than thin people, are oftentimes afraid to admit it. Fat people are so vilified and desexualized in the media with billions spent on diets and gym memberships so people won’t be them, and going against this narrative is a terrifying prospect.
Similarly, both fat and gay people may be afraid to come out of their respective closets for fear of repercussions. There can be such a visceral reaction to the idea of fat people being found sexually appealing that FAs may be shunned by their friends and family. In high school, Keith Ferguson told his friends and they treated him as a sexual creeper. Kevin N. was afraid to come out for fear of being branded gay.
Other times the responses are more subdued, merely gagging, retching or other declarations of disgust. While not everyone reacts this way, some are supportive and many just don’t care, but the fear remains. It’s hard to see so many other “no fat chicks” examples and not feel like what you’re doing is wrong.
It must be noted, however, that while the FA and gay communities are similar, the range of risk and persecution is on a vastly different scale. No one has ever been killed for being an FA, no politician has ever proposed banning fat marriage and surprising the family with a fat partner during the holidays isn’t as likely to result in ostracism. Yet we do share the fear of revealing our desires to the world.
It doesn’t make dating any easier.
Going back to Blank’s book, she starts her chapter on FAs by glorifying it as a dating paradise. “You (FA) are assured of a lifetime supply of potential partners who most likely have been indoctrinated in the idea that no one will ever find them sexy or lovable or romantically interesting.” This goes on, but the implication is that dating for the FA is easy, or at least easier because fat people will take any affection they can get. This is bunk.
This is explained partially in the Village Voice piece by describing how fat women are often skeptical of FAs because not only do their desires go against the grain of society, they are often deceived. To readdress the media’s treatment of fat, it’s hard for some fat people to think they can be considered attractive when weight loss strategies plaster magazine covers and Biggest Loser making millions off fat people crying. What’s worse is that when an FA does approach a fat person, they may be afraid they’re being deceived, perhaps through the frat boy prank of “hogging,” dating a fat girl on a dare. The paranoia and danger gets to the point where it’s safer to assume everything’s a trick.
This explanation only covers one aspect of why dating as an FA isn’t easy; another reason is because some FAs believe that fat people are easy prey. Some suspect that fat people haven’t dated much, are sexually frustrated and will jump at any affection offered just to get laid. This was how I thought when I started dating, but in fairness it was out of narcissism, not arrogance or a desire to simply have sex.
I grew up fat. My heaviest was 300 pounds and I thought most fat women were like me, willing to at least give anyone who approached them a chance. Had someone asked me out, after the initial skepticism and paranoia described in the previous section, I would have jumped at the chance to have a date. When I started dating, I was conceited enough to think every fat woman thought the same as I did. They do not.
Most of the girls I asked out refused, even as I lost weight, ruling out my weight as a possibility for my difficulties. Some never called back. Others were nice enough to say outright that they weren’t interested. In total, only two ever said yes to a first date. Granted one person’s small dating history isn’t a large enough sample size to make any solid conclusions, but it does suggest that fat people won’t date someone just because they offer.
It’s a type.
Everyone has types. Some like redheads best. Others only date Asians or African Americans. The list goes on and that’s just fine. When deciding who to ask out, or woo, or whatever people do these days, it’s difficult to decide. Unless you know the person beforehand, it’s likely the pursuer doesn’t have any information to go on other than appearance.
On the surface, this may seem unfair. They’re judging people on beauty, not personality. But for initial contacts, what’s the alternative? Let’s say a person is in a bar looking for someone to date. What information do they have to go by? Unless they’ve done extensive research on every single person, which would be as arduous as it is creepy, they need to narrow the search by some metric, and appearance is the only one available. What makes life hard for fat people and FAs is when the type is more important than the person. Allow me to provide another example, the two girls I’ve dated. One was a really fat girl, at least 300 pounds, but possibly closer to 350 or 400, and my girlfriend now weighs less than 200.
If being an FA was just about the numbers and not about the person, I would have stayed with the fatter girl. Yet after two weeks with her, I couldn’t stand the relationship. Her personality was repugnant, she was clingy, manipulative, and controlling. We didn’t have anything in common and I was always thinking about how much I hated being with her. I was drawn to her looks, discovered what she was like as a person and left.
My girlfriend of nearly five years is much thinner but also a better person. We can watch cartoons and come up with insane conspiracy theories together, sometimes say the exact same thing at the same time and neither of us tries to control or manipulate the other. She knows of my preference for fat women and how I wouldn’t mind at all if she gained weight, but I would always be with her because of who she is, not her weight.
Sometimes some F’s like fat so much they couldn’t do this. They would have to be with a person of minimum fatness, which is their choice, if they’re honest with the partner about it and they consent. Let them know weight preferences beforehand. Not everyone will understand it at first, but if they know you came for the fat but stayed for person, everything will be okay. If not, it probably wasn’t meant to be.
It's really not that big a deal. We all like different things.
It’s hard to come up with a simple definition for FA, as the article length demonstrates. It’s clear that there’s no set type of fatness an FA likes, nor is it absolutely necessary for their partner to be fat. It’s a type, just like any other, and while there are unique issues to being an FA, such as convincing potential partners they’re serious, the ostracism, fear and confusion of liking something outside the norm is the same as any other. We like fat people how other people like thin people, and that’s okay.