Book Review – Fat Sex: The Naked Truth

Fat Sex: The Naked Truth by Rebecca Jane Weinstein. See more here.

First, as a whole, this book was maybe a 3.5/5. I finished it, which is saying something. I found certain parts interesting, see below. That said, by about 60% of the way through it was more repetitive than anything. There’s only so much you can read about size acceptance, fat shaming, health at every size, and self esteem before wanting to shoot yourself. I guess I thought there’d be more explicit short essays about specific sexual experiences, and the thoughts going through each person’s head in those moments. Instead, every chapter follows one person, including their familial background, fat journey, self esteem issues/encounters with fat shaming/dieting drama, with sociological, scientific, medical, psychological, and media-related statistics thrown in throughout. It’s a little preachy at times and a little dry at others.

All that aside, as I mentioned, there were nuggets of…well, not gold, maybe bronze…that did make it interesting enough to finish.

“Shifting the BMI down two points helped turn obesity into moral panic.” Regarding the fact that prior to a 1998 NIH report, Obesity was defined as a BMI of 32 or higher. This report, funded mostly by weight loss industry money and the American Obesity Association, made millions of people obese that previously were not.

Referring to the fact that many overweight people spend years trying to forgive themselves for their fat, which the author says is a good thing because “there’s nothing productive or life-affirming about self-loathing.” This person, however, had gone one step further. “She doesn’t forgive herself for being fat, because being fat is not an offense that requires forgiveness. It is not an offense at all.”

“70 percent of the variation in peoples’ weight may be accounted for by inheritance, a figure that means that weight is more strongly inherited than nearly any other condition, including mental illness, breast cancer or heart disease. (Gina Kolata, “Genes Take Charge, and Diets Fall by the Wayside.”) If fat is significantly determined by genes – which we’re constantly working to be able identify exact genes – we could end up in a world where we genetically control for obesity. Which leads me to wondering, are there fat eugenicists? As in, are there people promoting a world where only thin people with thin family histories procreate in order to obliterate obesity?

“The goal for men was not to have sex with skinny women, it was to have sex with women. Unless they wanted sex with other men….As it turns out, many of them liked fat women, because they have big tits, and big asses, and places to squeeze, and put things. Men like to put things places.” Regarding one woman’s online questioning, dating, and conversing with a wide variety of men. I just like the last part – men like to put things places. That they do.

A Chris Rock quote from “Bigger and Blacker” that is reprinted in the book: “Nobody likes who the fuck they are. Except fat, black women. Fat, black women don’t give a fuck what you think. She’s going out on Friday night…She’s like, ‘I’m sexy. I am sexy, yes, I am! I am the sexiest motherfucker here tonight!’ ‘Yeah, I got a gut. There’s some good pussy under this gut.'” 

“A 1950s size 16 is about a 2012 size 8.” Vanity sizing…a scary thing. Where are we going to be in 20 years? 100?

From a man attracted primarily to larger women, explaining his attraction: “If she exhibits some self-esteem, I realize the barriers she has had to overcome. And that makes me admire her more.”  I’m ok with someone being attracted to me for this…although I’ve never thought before about the strength it takes to overcome the adversity that is prejudices against fat, it is true.

“Every relationship she’d had up until that point started with her being merely acceptable to date; her body kept her from being marriage material. After they got to know her personality, her fat would become tolerable to overlook. At least that’s her impression.”  I’ve felt like that before…People love my personality, and as a result they tolerate my fat. It’s an odd thing, but could very well just be my impression. Thing is, as this book slams home over and over, your thoughts on yourself project to others, so if it’s my impression, it’s probably a self-fulfilling prophecy too.

“…a Cowboy: someone who comes along and captures your boy or girl, taking them for their own monogamous relationship.” I didn’t know there was a term for this…now I do, and I’m glad for it.

“If you’re going to be involved in polyamory you had better like to talk about things, communicate, negotiate, set boundaries and clear expectations – because otherwise, it will go very, very badly.” Yes. All of the yes. Not just polyamory, but for any alternative relationship model, to encompass all kink.

“Yes, more men were looking for a good time with a thin woman. But the men who wanted a relationship, who wanted to share a life and to give and receive emotional love, picked Carol for who she was in her entirety. So maybe it’s not such a terrible thing that she had fewer choices as a fat woman. The choices seemed to be more substantial and worthy of her time, her energy, and her caring.” What to remind myself of when I go out with my thinner friends. Even if I was thinner, would I want to be with someone who dismissed whole groups of people purely because of weight? Because being thin isn’t guaranteed to last forever, for anyone – pregnancies, illness, etc happen, and I want someone who loves me for me no matter what size I am.

“Why, if you don’t like your fat body, would you join a group explicitly for the purpose of appreciating it?”  I debate joining BBW or ‘fat admirer’ groups because: 1) I don’t want to be fetishized, 2) I want to be appreciated no matter my size,  3) I want to be healthy, and that may at different points lead to me being a different size; I don’t want someone who places such a strong emphasis on appreciating my largess to stand in the way of that or to lose feelings/attraction should being healthier equate with being smaller.

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