what sex has taught me about internalized fatphobia and albeism
February 18, 2019
“We all wanna be fucking supermodels when the lights are dim, love!” This was uttered to me by a fellow fat friend in college while I was in the midst of the longest drought ever. And it was something I thought about recently when I ended up doing the nasty with someone’s whose body type looked absolutely nothing like mine.
I say this first because I’m fat and there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. This isn’t a put down like many of you weirdos will think it is. There’s nothing derogatory or offensive about being fat or calling oneself fat. These are merely the facts. A duck clocking herself as a duck, if you will. And there aren’t any secret angles I can use or employ in pictures or whatever that will magically make the fat not appear. I can’t turn sideways like Oscar Proud and magically be razor thin. No, until my body says otherwise, this is what it is. But it’s a wonder how negative these facts became in my head when it came time to stare my slimmer lover in the face. And, you know, ahem, their other face.
And I say this secondly because a traumatizing knee injury in college left me with an incredibly limited range of motion in that particular body part. This is another fact that I have always been keenly aware of since the incident in 2014. It’s why I can no longer go running for long periods of time. It’s why I gave up heels over 3/4 inches. It’s why swimming is basically impossible now. And it’s why I have a love and hate relationship with rain because while it puts me to sleep, it also wakes my knee right the fuck up. And the pain lasts for days on end. All these things are annoying, but they’re things I can live with.
But it is the lack of range of motion that I was embarrassingly reminded of when my decrepit knee failed me at the worst possible moment, while in bed with someone else. Why does this all matter?Well, the context matters because your brain and body start to send you some pretty interesting messages when you are out of the game for as long as I was. The thought process is “yeah, you’re a bad bitch, allegedly, but are you really a bad bitch if no one will even touch you, hmm?”
What’s even more interesting is the thoughts that cross your mind even after you’ve made it over this dry hump and into the sack. Sure, this person you are presumably attracted to is also presumably attracted to you and has shown mad interest in touching you, but how long before the fat-antagonism jumps out? How long before you find out that you may be some weird marriage between a pity shag and a drought fuck? The lights are dim and they’re all over you, but how fast will they recoil when those lights switch back on?
What happens when they find out how limited you are in motion? Or that you can’t move that ass properly? Or that you look really good, but can’t do much? What happens when you’re busted for basically not being able to properly twerk and/or breakdance on this person’s nether regions like your inner-heaux may really want to and the jig is finally up? What happens if you’re separately nonchalant about being called a fat fuck or a boring fuck but absolutely mortified of being called and becoming both? Do you know what it’s like to have parts of society completely write you off as unappealing, lazy, and unworthy of anyone’s touch for two completely separate reasons that you cannot control? And do you know what it’s like to be able to successfully block all those isms out until you get to the bedroom?
Internalized fatphobia is a motherfucker I’ve been dealing with for over two decades. Internalized ableism is a new bitch. She ain’t been here that long, but she’s left enough psychological damage in these last five years to last a lifetime. And when these two bitches join hands and Voltron-up together, it’s enough to make me pause and wonder if I’m psychologically sound enough to be in anyone’s bed. Let alone my own.
Luckily, my (not-so-temporary) insanity was assuaged by the fact that the desire in that room was palpable. Electric. Thick as hell. While these two very big isms were at play in the back and the front of my mind, they were no match for a lover who loved on me eagerly and enthusiastically. One who kissed me with fervor, authority, and gentleness. Who made me cornily giggle like a school girl and ferociously blush and look away like I was back in middle school and a sex scene had come onscreen while I was watching TV with my devoutly Christian and Nigerian mom. And who was reaching for my supple arse whether the lights were on or off. Or dim. Or whether the sun was up or down or nowhere to be found. And didn’t expect me to come out the gate as an Olympic-level sex-gymnast after being away so long. Many things went perfectly and some things didn’t. And that is perfectly okay.
Which is to say that sex as a construct and in the abstract has the potential to be this debilitating thing that makes you question your worth, even if you might not normally. Or make you think you are not deserving because you don’t fit a particular aesthetic or body type, even if you normally wouldn’t give a fuck. Or make you think that you are defective if a certain amount of time has passed since you last “had” it. Or make you judge yourself extremely harshly, to the point that you’re nitpicking things you will never be able to control. Part of that is society and is reflected in the high stock we put into the act and the low stock we put into those who aren’t in engaging in the act as often (or the opposite) as we think they should. You could call this the bastard child between desirability politics and capitalism—also known as all the systems who benefit from you feeling shitty about yourself.
That said, sex in the flesh? Good sex—great sex even? Sex with someone who isn’t a human trash bag or a dumpster fire? Well, besides the reminder that you are indeed a bad bitch with a fat ass, these things also have the potential to remind you that while society is a mean place, sometimes your mind can be the meanest place of them all. And that some kindness—to one’s mind and one’s self—needs to be exercised.
And these things residing in your mind don’t make them any less real or tangible or important, of course. But you start to see how frivolous, unfair and untrue they are when a partner is enthusiastically, eagerly, and earnestly making you come in ways that you can’t write about, even on the internet.
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