Dating in 2021 is hard. Dating when you are fat in 2021 is harder. Sure, we all face the normal vexes of dating like being ghosted and navigating f**k boys. But when you’re fat (or part of any marginalized identity), you can take all those things you hate about dating and add being dehumanized on top of it.
When straight-sized people make their online dating profiles, they generally put up whatever pictures they think will get them the most matches. But fat women all know “the look” when you show up on a first date and he is visibly disappointed, so now we’re terrified to have it happen again, even though we meticulously picked out photos to make sure we’re accurately showing what our bodies look like.
Once we’ve picked out the photos, then we have to decide if we want to add a “fat warning label” to our bio, you know, just in case. Example: “Fat and I like that!” or “May seem larger in person.”
Then we take our profiles to a focus group of our friends and ask questions like, “Does this look like me? You can clearly tell I’m fat from this photo, right? Is this dress too flattering? Do I look fat enough? Do I have enough full body shots?”
This all ends with our straight-size friends looking at us like we’re crazy, but how would they understand? They’ve never been accused of being a catfish because they posted a “flattering photo.” And that is only just the first step of making an online profile as a fat woman.
We created our podcast ”Swipe Fat” exactly because of this. We met through mutual friends (yes, a friend date!) and instantly clicked because we could talk about the things that only plague fat women while dating. Well, at least when dating men. We’re both heterosexual so that’s the bulk of our experience.
At that moment on our friend date, we realized that we were able to be more open and honest with each other than we could ever be with our straight-size friends who didn’t understand what it was like to be plus-size and dating.
Through starting the podcast and from the community that we’ve built with “Swipe Fat,” we’ve learned that a LOT of fat women feel similarly and don’t have those fat friends to validate their experiences, so they aren’t able to vent or feel like their experiences are normal.
One topic we’ve discussed that a lot of fat women find relatable is the process of actually swiping on people. Let’s say you’ve perfected your online dating presence ― now you have to move on to actually matching with people and talking. Should we swipe right on this guy who we may think is “out of our league?” Or should we play it safe and only swipe right on guys we expect to like us too? Taking a shot on the hot, fit guy sometimes feels like a big risk, but who’s to say we shouldn’t take that shot?
Unfortunately, the media and society have conditioned us to think the “hot,” fit guy can’t like a plus-size woman unless he has a fat fetish ― another huge concern of fat women while dating!
A topic we talk about a lot on the podcast is fat fetish vs. fat preference. It’s a pretty big mind-fuck trying to figure out if a man is attracted to you for your larger body type and your personality or just your size.
Nicci, for example, went on a few dates with a guy who not only had a fat fetish, but was a feeder, someone who becomes sexually aroused by feeding a partner and encouraging them to gain weight. Up until that point, she only saw people being attracted to her body as being a benefit, but since then she’s had to question if a guy is dating her for her — or just for her body.
Being fetishized is a huge concern of Alex’s ever since a guy proclaimed, “I love having sex with fat women” mid-sex session. At what point was it just about having sex with any fat body and not her specifically? Having a fetish is fine if it’s consensual — who are we to judge? — but we personally want to be seen for more than just our body. We want someone to like us for us, not just for our weight.
A lot of men might actually have a fat preference, but are uncomfortable admitting it to their friends or family, which leads us to the topic of being hidden. Let’s say you finally do meet someone, and they like you for you and are attracted to all of you ― your body and personality! But you’ve been dating a while and haven’t met any of their friends or family. Are they embarrassed by you?
You know that scene in “Shrill” where Aidy Bryant’s character is basically pushed out of the window because the guy didn’t want his roommates to find out he was dating her? Most fat women have been there. We’re good enough in the bedroom, but not good enough to go out with on a dinner date or to a friend’s birthday party.
All we really want when we match with a guy on a dating app is to get a cheesy pick-up line or dad joke as an opener just like our straight-size friends do. Instead, women in fat bodies tend to get openers that immediately sexualize us like, “Suffocate me with that body” or “Ooooh, I love a big woman.”
Let’s say a guy does approach you the right way, but the moment you reject them, they come back with a retort like, “Well, you’re fat anyway.” Yeah, dude, we are aware that we’re fat. You were really into it actually until I said no to hooking up on the first date or going on a third because we don’t have anything in common.
After going through that more times than you can count, once you do find a good guy, you start to second-guess it. The trauma of being rejected because of your weight so many times creeps in, no matter how confident you are in yourself.
These concerns when dating as a plus-size woman are just the tip of the iceberg, and we think it’s time for change.We’re ready for the fatphobic society we live in to catch up.
We want people to realize that you can be fat and hot. That fat woman can have the “fairy tale.” That we shouldn’t be hiding and not even trying to date because of the fear of rejection, or friend-zoning ourselves because there is no way that a guy would like us, or not swiping right simply out of the fear that we can’t be loved. There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done, we’re just grateful that finally people who look like us are starting to have a voice and are being seen.
We can be loved, and we deserve to be.
Nicci and Alex are currently the stars of bspokeTV’s new dating show, “Dating in the Modern Age.” “DITMA” is a dating show centered on what dating really looks like for normal people — and specifically during a pandemic! They are also co-hosts of a weekly podcast called “Swipe Fat,” which centers around dating while plus size.