When I heard about Golda Poretsky’s new master class on body positive dating, I was really happy – I think it’s a subject that doesn’t get talked about enough and can be really tricky. I get reader questions about it from time to time but I’m the opposite of an expert when it comes to fat dating – I’ve managed to luck my way into an amazing relationship but it’s not because I have any game, or any expertise when it comes to dating.
For me the difficulty with dating fat was that it wasn’t just about my body acceptance and how I felt about myself. As a fat woman my potential partners live in a culture that tells them that my body is not just completely unattractive but in fact a moral failing and that to choose to date me is to open themselves up to the same social stigma with which I am currently .
That sucks, but it’s important to remember that there is a nothing “wrong” with our bodies that a little culture shift can’t fix (which is to say that there is nothing wrong with our bodies at all) – and that the cure for social stigma is ending social stigma and not weight loss. Still here we are, with a dating pool inundated with the message that fat=bad.
Social stigma related to dating has something in common with all social stigma related to being fat – it is highly profitable for the diet industry. The fear of not finding a mate sometimes means that people who might otherwise look at their abysmal success rate and take a pass instead go back again and again. I have definitely wondered how far this idea that you must be thin to get a mate sets the Health at Every Size movement back? I know people who have chosen to do what they consider to be unhealthy things to their bodies to be thin, even temporarily, in the hopes of finding a partner. (Knowing that if they succeed they may be setting themselves up for heartbreak in 2-5 years when they’ve gained the weight back ).
Then there are our own standards when we decide who we date. I’ll speak for myself on this one. I refused to date anyone who is interested in me in spite of my body. (I inadvertently did it once and it was a disaster.) I was also once part of a dating experiment that a grad student was doing and we self-selected into one of three groups. A group who made being fat the first thing that they talked about on their profile, a group who made it part of the profile but not the first thing, and a third group who avoided telling people that they were fat until it became unavoidable. In discussions that we had, the women in group three believed that their only chance was to get someone to fall in love with their personality enough to overlook their bodies.
If it works for them that’s completely cool, but I was committed that before I would date someone who felt that my body needed to be overlooked, I would get a bunch of rescue Great Danes and grow old as the weird dog lady. On the other hand I was not willing to date someone who only loved me for my body. With some regularity I get e-mails from guys (I’ve so far only received them from men) saying something to the effect of “I didn’t read the blog but I saw your picture and you are just so damn hot, let’s get it on”. Um, no.
Obviously dating is not necessarily a walk in the park at any size, I had to acknowledge that being fat may indeed have made dating more difficult. But looking at it logically my options were: to date someone who was willing to “overlook” my body, or to try something that fails 95% of the time in the hopes of attracting a mate who wouldn’t consider dating me as I am now, and then rolling the dice that they won’t leave me if I am one of the 95% who gains their weight back (As I had been so many times in the past), or to hold out for someone who was interested in all of me. I chose option three. I know I am extremely lucky to have found such a wonderful partner, but my choice also included an understanding that I agreed with the old adage “better alone than in bad company.”
If you’re in an awesome relationship then today might be a great day to leave a comment and tell us about it! Also, check out the Museum of Fat Love.If you’re dealing with dating, then you might want to check out Golda’s Body Positive Dating Masterclass.
February Speaking Schedule: If you are at Dartmouth, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, Smith, or UMass Amherst, I’ll be seeing you later this month – final schedules to be published soon. If you would like me to give a talk at your University or company just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org. It’s totally ok if you’re not sure how to get it done, we can work through it together!
Like the blog? Here’s more of my stuff:
The Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details
The Dance Class DVDs: Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint: Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)! Click here for the details
Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses
I do size acceptance activism full time. A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.