with help from Mahx Capacity and Alysse Dalessandro.
“There’s an intimacy with hunger, desire, digging in fat sex. Our work as fat folks to see our self-doubt for what it is–not some innate truth, but plain-old exploitative capitalism — literally works up an appetite, and fulfilling it can be one of the most delicious experiences imaginable.” – Mahx Capacity
The fear of fat is real. If you’re a queer girl, you’ve spent your entire life around other girls picking apart their bodies alongside you; you know these feelings affect not only you, but your friends, and potentially all of your past, current or future lovers.
Alysse Dalessandro grew up uneasy with her body until romantic partners assured her she was sexy — this is often how fat positivity starts, with a taste of desire that makes one feel, well, normal. “When I started dating women, I became very conscious of how women talk about their bodies. It motivated me to work harder at breaking some of that negative self talk.” Dalessandro founded the brand and blog Ready to Stare and now specializes in clothing and lingerie reviews, most notably her queer perspective on the Savage X Fenty line and genderqueer underthings.
If fat is feared, those who feel any proximity to it can tend to bring forth feelings of monstrosity or in this age, even worse: sexual undesirability. One of the things that really makes fat people feel less than normal is the lack of access to the material trappings of seduction, like lingerie or strap-on harnesses; and we love to talk about it. In fact, “where do I find a harness for my fat body, or lingerie, or anything sexy” has been the number one question fielded towards me on the matter of fat sex. For years, the lesbian staple RodeoH was under fire for not being able to make popular undies in bigger sizes. While the queer world went googely-eyed over the product, fatter queers were left out of that experience. Think about that. As queers, we try to create these open spaces to love and live and yet, we still come up against the heteronormative trappings of size and desire. Things have changed for the better recently, but whenever you’re talking about products, you’re talking about how fat people are being marketed to or not marketed to, included or ignored.
Sometimes it can make you feel like a fetish. Growing up, it’s hard to think of being anything except a “side piece” – sometimes even when dating fatter people who don’t see themselves with another fat person. You will constantly wonder if people want you and then how they want you, but only after you spend most of your life completely ignorant to people genuinely, sweetly, lovingly coming on to you because you simply can’t tell it all apart in your head. You’ve been convinced that you are PLUS. EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA (large). Not wanted. The choices given to you in a heteronormative capitalist world have taught you that fat people are not normal or needed.
So, there’s your dose of empathy. Being fat is hard and if you’re not fat and you’ve never FELT fat, you should listen up. You should feel this for a second. But then, who doesn’t? In a fat-hating society, every one of us is fat. Fatphobia has no size limit. Anti-fat messaging is a tool of the corporate machine to keep us all in our places, weaving a tapestry of trauma. Fat is a feminist issue. It’s about how much space we take up and how we take our bodies back from corporations and the patriarchy! It’s about undoing and unlearning decades of misinformation about nutrition and movement, economics, class, race and privilege.
The process of unraveling those mental hang-ups may take all of us a lifetime. They’ve taken me a lifetime. For me, zine writing and journaling led to an exploration in burlesque and porn. Sexuality, as base and basic as it is, is often the first place where people find an opening in the world for themselves. Sexual expression helps lift the shame curtain around our bodies. I’ve spent some time here because it seems as though I will never stop learning.
“Our work as fat folks to see our self-doubt for what it is — not some innate truth, but plain-old exploitative capitalism — literally works up an appetite, and fulfilling it can be one of the most delicious experiences imaginable,” explains AORTA founder Mahx Capacity, a genderqueer fat punk living in New York and making independent films around sexuality and fatness, like W/HOLE. Capacity, Dalessandro and myself are all of the ilk that think that explicit art, selfies, and image making bring us closer to accepting our bodies and ourselves.
There’s something about communicating about desire with your fat body itself that works to heal generations of societal, capitalistic training in self-harm. I started with self portraits — thousands until I could stand the sight of me, to be honest. I still employ this practice as my body changes through its 30s. The act of seeing myself puts me in a position of allyship as the spectator to the model, which is also me. I beg you to try it if you don’t know how to see yourself. I also beg you to witness other fat bodies on the daily. Surround yourself with the beauty that is Shoog McDaniel’s Bodies Like Oceans or the haven that is AORTA films’ lush fat queer pornography.
“One of the things that makes me feel sexy is to follow as many other fat babes who are makers/performers/sex workers/models as possible,” says Capacity. “Normalizing fat bodies to the point where I’m seeing just as many (if not more) fat folks in my media does this amazing thing where bodies can begin to just be bodies.” Both Dalessandro and Capacity speak to how hot fat sex is now that they’ve truly made a place for it in their lives. Surrounding yourself with fat-positive queer art and indie media shoves a pie in the face of the capitalist structure that made you feel so damn unfuckable in the first place.
I still, despite decades of work, feel unfuckable often. Part of me still feels too fat to fuck. Or too fat to love. Or too fat to live. My last real girlfriend tended to worship my fatness as something different from her, and to be honest I probably did the same with her thinness. We both had an unattainable hotness that we saw in each other and I’ve got to think that’s what sparked an understanding for me that when it comes to sex and feelings. I realize none of us can ever be each other. We can only be ourselves. We should lean in to that.
I only figured out fat sex when I wasn’t having any of it, employing time alone and learning how to breathe again after a series of heartbreaks and periods of body dysmorphia. You can try doing what I did, if you feel lost “in the folds.” Be alone and feel yourself for a while in a space free of comparisons or insecurity. It is always OK to say no, even if just to feel yourself.
Capacity recommended reaching out to other fat bodies if you’re ready to fuck yourself into self love; especially other fat folks. “Fucking people who have broken through the other side of that and know exactly how gorgeous and deserving of pleasure they are can be incredibly joyful and fulfilling, not to mention just plain hot. As a fat person I’m in touch with my desire to take up space, my hunger, the joy of my appetite.” As their co-star Shay Knox says in the film “Full,” it’s a little act of vengeance. Dalessandro says, “Work on loving and accepting your body. Get comfortable looking at yourself naked. Take selfies. Do a boudoir shoot. Buy lingerie that makes you feel sexy. Have sex with the lights on. When you see that beauty in yourself, you’re able to see it in others. Change the voice in your head that says you’re not worthy of having satisfying sex.” She also recommends setting good boundaries with your lovers. “You’re not a secret and you don’t have to change anything about yourself. Refuse to accept anything less than what you deserve! Not everyone is going to be a fit for you, let the wrong folks walk away so the right ones can make their way in.”
I will pitch in here and saying being vocally proud of your plus size date and showing your appreciation on social media goes a long way in this modern world. It’s so easy to internalize all the stigma, shame and hate around fat sexuality. “It’s easy to doubt your sex appeal because there are literally millions of dollars of marketing money being spent every year to make you feel like no one could possibly find you attractive, explains Capacity. “Fucking as fat folks who have broken through the other side of that internalized shame and instead know exactly how gorgeous and deserving of pleasure they are is an incredibly joyful and fulfilling thing to share.” I don’t know, but that sounds like someone you wanna show off.
Go on, get your revenge. You deserve it. Fuck. While fat. Don’t wait. Surround yourself with beauty and movement, let your skin breathe, adorn yourself and modify anything you like. Enjoy your body the best you can. It’s the only one you’ve got — give it the chance it needs to be a part of YOU.
P.s. One last thing, I’m leaving this beloved MC quote here as a parting gift. Keep it near you always.