Autostraddle Strap Week 2021 – All Images by Demetria.
I’ve spent a lot of time in my twenties face down on fitted bed sheets, being strapped down while the person I was hooking up with moaned, sweated, and hovered over my fat Black body like that damn crane in prize machines. These types of hookups asked the same question over and over again, waiting for me to stroke their ego with my answer as they repeatedly asked “How does this feel baby”? To be completely honest, I always made them feel good because it made me feel desirable in a world where fat bodies are looked upon as disgusting. I would tell them what they wanted to hear — fake moan and place my sexual pleasure on the back burner to accommodate their fantasies, sometimes even their fetish, for my body.
My sexual oppression was a result of my upbringing as a fat child. Most people who are socialized as fat children have weak self-esteem that can translate into feelings of shame about their bodies. I thought I had no place to make any demands in the bedroom and if I did speak up my voice would not be heard. Back then, there was no mainstream body acceptance movement to encourage me to liberate myself sexually, nor were there any celebrities being openly unapologetic about how much space their fat Black body took up.
The only images I had to look upon of fat Black femmes embracing their fatness were on the free pornsites I visited. The fat femmes in these images taught me that pleasure in a fat body was based on how good you could make your sexual partner feel. There were never any scenes of them experiencing orgasming or taking the lead during sex — I only saw that with thin femmes— so I did not know that pleasure like that could belong to me too. The first time someone asked me seriously what would make me feel good, I didn’t believe her. She too was a fat Black femme, yet her sex life looked completed different from the way mine was going. She was all about making sure sex was pleasurable for both parties and that I was enjoying it as much as her. I responded to her question with the same oohs and ahhs I learned from the fat femme pornstars and she stopped in the middle of her strapping to say, “No seriously, what do you want?”
I was not honest with her that day. I assured her that everything she was doing was pleasurable instead of telling her that the strap had fallen out of my vagina three minutes ago and I was faking it the whole time. In my head, telling her what I want sexually, or being honest about what didn’t feel good went against the role that I, a fat-bodied person, was supposed to perform in bed. That moment then was a missed opportunity for my sexual liberation however it planted a seed that I ended up watering much later.
Erykah Badu tweeted to her followers about how to get over a situation not good for them:
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) December 7, 2015
Her advice was “When you get tired enough, you’ll evolve, I’ll promise.”
After running into hookup after hookup that was not pleasurable, I decided enough was enough. I was tired of my sexual life being centered around everyone’s experience of me and not my experience with pleasure. I wanted to evolve and I thought to myself, who benefits from you not experiencing pleasure?
I ended up strolling into a sex store one day seeking a harness and a dildo. I explain to the shop owner that I wanted to reimagine my sex life. I wanted to have my own strapping gear instead of expecting someone else to bring me tools for my pleasure. She immediately went straight to a harness with an adjustable velcro belt which allows it to fit someone with a 20-inch waist up to a 65 inch. “This one is really inclusive to a lot of bodies,” she said. “It’s versatile so whoever is strapping you can use it and you can also use it to strap whoever too.” That day the Spareparts Joque two-strap style harness came into my life and I slowly began a healing journey to unpack the parts of myself that were socialized to believe that I wasn’t worthy of my pleasure.
Purchasing a strap for myself that fat bodies can wear made room for me as a fat person to envision myself experiencing pleasure in new and exciting ways. I started paying less attention to the pornographic version of how a fat body should experience pleasure, and allowed myself to move and be sexual in the way my fat body naturally wanted to act — I focused on what felt good to me.
Having the options of topping or bottoming allowed me to explore a part of myself I never imagined I would have a chance to do. It opened me up to not having to play a role that made me feel like I was a part of someone else’s pleasurable experience. I could finally become the person experiencing pleasure. The first time I strapped someone was in my spare parts harness. I headed back to my apartment with her after a second date to spend more time getting to know each other through kissing and cuddling. In between our makeout session, she asked me what would be pleasing to me.
I didn’t have to take a long time to think my answer through, this was a chance for me to advocate for my pleasure. I was not going to answer with bullshit, I was going to be honest with her.
“Would you be open to letting me strap you?”
“Yes,” she smiled.
We finished that night exploring and listening to what both of our bodies wanted. We were both openly unapologetic about how much space both of our fat Black bodies were taking up as we journeyed into desire together. This was what liberation felt like. This was my evolution. And this was the pleasure I’d always deserved.