101, Fat, Self-Image

In Which I Ramble About Attraction

So, you might have seen this douchehound responding to my gayest look the other day:

Goddamn Kate. You are an unbelievably unattractive woman!!


every straight man with a set of eyes. (except for your closeted boyfriend, of course)

The funny thing is, Sweet Machine approved it because she only skimmed, and thought he was calling me an unbelievably attractive woman. Funnier still, Fillyjonk and I both thought the same thing when we first read it, even though I puzzled over the closeted boyfriend bit (and the fact that he would pick that picture to swoon over, frankly). But still, even while misreading it as a compliment, I agreed heartily with Shapeling Jen’s immediate response: “Go fuck yourself.”

There were two reasons for this:

1) The closeted boyfriend bit–seriously, go fuck yourself.

2) The fact that he presumed to speak for “every straight man with a set of eyes.” Dude, whether you’re telling me you think I should be living under a bridge or gracing magazine covers, you cannot speak for everyone. Attraction is subjective. And it irritates the living fuck out of me that this culture tries so hard to divide people into categories of “attractive” and “unattractive,” as if individual preferences don’t even exist–when in fact, individual preferences (conscious and unconscious) are at the core of attraction as it plays out in the real world.

Want evidence that attraction is subjective? Well consider the fact that all three of us SP bloggers, each of whom fares quite well on reading comprehension tests, completely missed the “un” on the front of that “attractive.” I cannot imagine such a collective failure happening if all three of us believed that I am an unbelievably unattractive woman, and furthermore, everyone knows it. If we were primed to agree with this douchehound, we undoubtedly would have read it exactly as written–but we weren’t, because we all know plenty of people find me plenty cute, and I have gotten numerous comments extolling my hotness before. (They were all from Jon B., but that’s beside the point.) Despite the number of trolls we get, a comment calling me pretty is really no more unusual than one calling me a bloated, fugly cunt.

Know why? Attraction is subjective.

I was thinking about this recently while writing a piece on fat women and sexual power for Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti’s upcoming anthology, and then it came up again yesterday while reading a comments thread on my superhero girlcrush Breakup Girl’s blog. (MAJOR Sanity Watchers warning there, I am not kidding–and if you’re faint of heart, you might even want to skip the rest of this post, ’cause I’ll be quoting from it.)

A woman wrote to BG’s alter ego, Lynn Harris, asking what to do about a guy she’d had this great connection with in e-mails and phone calls, who then saw a picture of her and said, “Call me when you lose some weight.” Lynn’s advice (he’s got a right to his preferences; you’ve got a right to blow him off and should totally exercise that right; also, how the hell did you go 6 weeks without exchanging photos?) is right on the money in my opinion, but when she opened it up to comments on the BG blog, a whole lot of people disagreed.

‘Cause, see, the problem here is not just that she fell for a guy who doesn’t dig fat chicks, which could have been avoided by coughing up the photo a lot earlier. The problem is that no normal guy in the whole entire world digs fat chicks, which means she is Categorically Unattractive and must lose weight if she doesn’t want to die alone.

Several commenters went down the fucking evo psych path with that:

We are programmed to look for healthy in every sense….healthy is attractive. Forcing the argument that people should accept others who are overweight goes against this natural selection switch, and makes it impossible for some people to accept.

Society has not conditioned us, evolution has. Men are attracted to women that represent the best chance of bearing their young and caring for them. This means young and physically fit…. This is not opinion, it is fact.

Evolution has produced men who are attracted to women who appear to be good prospects for bearing HIS children.

(HIS children! Got that, ladies?)

But most didn’t even try to pretty it up with “science.” They just flat-out don’t bother themselves with trifles like the distinction between opinion and fact.

very few guys want to date over-weight women

She should trim up or accept that people will not be attracted to her for her size.

Ok,before everyone jumps down my throat. I used to be height/weight proportionate but over the years I’ve gained weight. I’m a chunky woman ok. I’m not denying it. And I know that’s why I don’t have a BF…. OK, men are really not that complicated and we women are just wasting our $ buying all these books. You don’t even have to be that pretty. You just have to be THIN. That’s right, crucify me now. YOU HAVE TO BE THIN.

Most guys don’t want heavy babes. Unless of course they are larger themselves. Just reality. While the recent move to accept larger people proliferates, and, while it is good to feel good about yourself-self love and all it’s just too much.

You can’t expect someone to agree to marry someone else who is obese.

the fact of the matter is that men prefer shapely over fat or large or whatever you want to call it. Until woman “get” this they will always wonder why they don’t have as much success dating as they could or should. It is not rocket science.

Are you really that naive? seriously. You KNOW what guys want, look around! They want that hot, sexy, body, a gal to make them look good too. MOST men do not prefer an overweight woman.

This lady just doesn’t GET it. Some men just AREN”T sexually motivated, or attracted by a chunk. Girls, get the picture…If you want to be happy in your own skin, as all these self help horsecrap books talk about, remember, the author is hoping you buy her book, because she wants your money, so she is going to say it’s OK for you to be fat. NEWSFLASH ! You just might be happy in your own skin ALONE. Yes, you DO actually have a responsibility to look good, if you want to be accepted.

Noone likes fat people except fat people and that’s just how it is. It’s sloppy with rolls of fat hanging, creases, pendulous breasts and persperation.These are all the thoughts of the normal mind and rightfully so as it is not a myth.Take a thin person in a restaurant eating, no one takes a second look. Take a fat person eating and one will think, “slovenly overeater” That’s just the way it is. By the way, I’m fat and I think it’s ugly!

(Bold emphasis mine in all cases; caps are their own.)

You might be surprised–though I wasn’t, sadly–just how many of those commenters identified themselves as fat in the midst of their tirades against fat people. Of course, they could have been thin and full of shit, but they probably weren’t. My primary raison de blog, after all, is trying to help fat people hate themselves less–if other people learn to hate us less, too, that’s just gravy. (Mmm, gravy.) Internalized self-loathing exists among every marginalized group, but among fat people, it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t believe every last thing we’re told to feel about ourselves. You’re ugly. You’re disgusting. You’re sloppy. You’re lazy. You’re embarrassing to be seen with. You’re out of control. You have no self-discipline. You will never be loved unless you lose weight.

(P.S. I’m only telling you this because I’m concerned about your health.)

Consider this commenter, who breaks my fucking heart:

I actually married a guy that can’t stand my fat! Yes I did. Some would say I am stupid, but he treats me well, and we have a great life together. It is though, very difficult at times for me. I used to be very obese (almost 300lbs), and I am down to a size 14 and I am happy. Any one who knows anything about losing weight – when you have lost that much, you are really flabby. I can out-do my husband in the exercise department and he will admit it. I have put about 30lbs back on since we engaged, then married. I admit, I got a bit lazy and now I just can’t seem to get it back off. We talk about it frequently, and he apologises for the way he feels, but he claims he can’t change that and I have to lose more weight. He wants me into a size 8!! Hahaha – that will never happen and I tell him that. Anyway – I often wonder where I would be if I had been more true to myself.

The cognitive dissonance, it burns.

Fat people end up in relationships like that–or alone, too crippled by low self-esteem to even put themselves on the dating market–all too often, in large part because of this myth that there are Attractive People and Unattractive People, and every fat person falls into the latter category. Common sense should tell us this can’t be true–if fat people aren’t having sex, how the hell did so many fat people get here? Spaceships? Pods? But somehow, it has become a universal “truth” that no one wants to fuck, much less love, a fatty. Ever. Period.

Lose the weight and gain the power to choose.

How chilling is that? If you’re fat, you don’t have the power to choose a romantic partner. I can’t be the only one hearing shades of this shit:

  • if any man would want to rape your gigantic ass, i’d be shocked
  • whoever raped you could have just waited at the exit of a bar at 3am and gotten it consenually without the beached whale-like “struggle” you probably gave
  • These fat whores would be lucky to even get raped by someone.I hope you whiny cunts find your way on top of a pinball machine in the near future.

If you’re thin, you get to choose who you want to have sex with. If you’re fat, you’d be lucky to be raped. Face it, ladies! I’m just being honest!

No. This is the farthest thing from honesty. This is bullshit. Hateful bullshit. Bullshit that causes fat people to stay in abusive relationships or cut themselves off from relationships altogether. Bullshit that causes thin, growing grade-school girls to put themselves on diets; bullshit that triggers eating disorders in those predisposed to them; bullshit that causes feminists and non-feminists alike to identify a “somewhat underweight” woman as “maximally attractive.”

The world is not full of Attractive People and Unattractive People. It’s full of people who are attractive to some and not to others. I hear from trolls all the time who complain that they don’t want to be “forced” to find nasty, ugly fat women attractive–which utterly baffles me, since the last thing I want to do is encourage fat-hating dicks to date fat women. You don’t find fat people attractive? Fabulous. Don’t date them. I will find a way to pick myself up and move on without your love. But to assume your lack of sexual interest in fat chicks must be universal–or that the mere existence of self-confident fat people having healthy relationships somehow “forces” you to find fat attractive–is the height of fucking narcissism.

I use this as an example all the time, but I find Brad Pitt to be kinda meh, physically. (I also find him pretty charming in interviews, which does ratchet up my attraction to him somewhat, but I just do not get the concept of looking at a picture of him and swooning.) Obviously, he ain’t suffering for my personal lack of Brad Pitt lust. But it goes to the point: even someone widely considered to be our culture’s physical ideal isn’t universally, objectively attractive. I was at a bar last week with Colleen, Tari, and Ottermatic, when a Prince video came on, and we started arguing about whether Prince is, in fact, hot. Colleen and Tari pointed out the obvious: tiny, tiny man, very weird. Meanwhile, Ottermatic and I pointed out what was equally obvious to us: BUT HOT. And of course, the upshot is that there is no fact there, just four opinions, split down the middle.

Another story I’ve told before, but bear with me–when I started dating Al, he asked what celebrities I’d dump him for (only because I’d asked him first, I should note; he found the whole convo ridiculous). I started with George Clooney, but he deemed that too cliche (fair enough), so I added the likes of Peter Saarsgard, Paul Giamatti, Jon Favreau, Philip Seymour Hoffman–and probably Prince, too, come to think of it.

Al: Oh, I get it. What you’re saying is, you like unattractive men.

I handed him his ass for that one (especially after he told me that made him understand why I was into him)* because he was missing the whole fucking point: I, Kate Harding, am very attracted to all those men–and to Al. It doesn’t make a goddamned bit of difference if they ring anybody else’s bell (though they’re all doing just fine for themselves, thanks), ’cause mine was the bell in question. Al’s list (which I had to drag out of him) included Catherine Keener, Maura Tierney, Queen Latifah, and maybe sorta Frances McDormand–none of whom look remotely like me, but I wasn’t losing any sleep over that, because the list itself proves that attraction is not about a single set of physical characteristics.

I was recently interviewed by a Trib reporter for a “personal profile” (that may never come out, alas), which involved me running down my whole damn life story. In talking about dating during my twenties, I referred to this boyfriend and that boyfriend and that other boyfriend and that guy I was hooking up with for a while and then that other guy I was hooking up with for a different while, until the reporter finally stopped me and said, “So, even though you struggled with weight and body image, it sure sounds like you never lacked for male attention.” Me: BWAH!!!! That was an entire decade, lady, and years of it were spent alone and believing that unless I got and kept myself thin, I would never find love (again). Because fat people are Unattractive People. Full stop.

But at the same time, she was right–and that comment was really enlightening to me. Because until that moment, I looked back on my romantic life as a series of long, lonely periods punctuated by a few fluke relationships, when I could just as easily look back on it as a series of relationships punctuated by a few fluke lonely periods. I spent almost exactly half of that decade in long-term relationships and half not–but given all the flings and fruitless dates in the off years, the balance actually tips toward periods where I did have “male attention.” (And that’s without even getting into all the times I found out after the fact that some guy had been interested in me, and I was too damned clueless to see it.) So far, I’ve spent 2/3 of my thirties in relationships (most of that with Al), and only 1/3 alone. If this one doesn’t work out, I should be a fucking dating machine when I’m in my forties.

And have I mentioned I’m fat?

But Kate, I already hear some of you saying. You’re not that fat. You don’t even know.

You’re right, I don’t know. And there is no doubt whatsoever that the fatter you are, the more discrimination you face in every phase of your life, including dating. But there is also no doubt whatsoever that people much fatter than me are hooking up and falling in love all over the place, every friggin’ day. Because there are people who prefer fat partners, and people who are attracted to all shapes and sizes, and people who think they’re not attracted to fat folks until they meet the right one and go gaga. Because–wait for it–attraction is subjective.

But Kate, that doesn’t change the fact that in this culture, more people are attracted to thin people than to fat people.

No, it doesn’t. But that fact doesn’t mean that fat people need to choose between losing weight and getting used to the company of cats. It just means we’re looking for our respective needles in a slightly bigger haystack. And on the upside, we’ve automatically weeded out the people who think adhering as closely as possible to the cultural beauty standard is a prerequisite for deserving love–who wants to date those assholes? I have dear friends who are damn near the Barbie standard, and half of their romantic lives have been spent fending off guys like that in the first place or figuring out how to dump them; our net relationship success is about even. So who’s better off?

The fact is, I am “an unbelievably unattractive woman”–and also an unbelievably attractive woman, a kinda meh woman, a kinda cute woman, and everything else on the spectrum between “eww” and “ooh.” It all depends on who’s looking–and further depends on whether they’ve actually talked to me, whether they dig mouthy broads or dog people or spacey writers, whether I remind them of their mothers, whatever. One of the few culturally desirable attributes I possess is a huge rack, but I’ve met more men than you could imagine who say they actively prefer small boobs–and more than one who has deemed my tits “scary.” (SCARY. Not kidding. More than one.) Meanwhile, I have stubby, drumstick-shaped legs, and yet the majority of my boyfriends, when asked, self-identified as Leg Men rather than Breast Men. How the hell did they end up with me? Attraction is not about a single set of physical characteristics.

Attraction is weird and unpredictable and dependent on about 8 zillion variables. If it were actually based on a list of identifiable characteristics, we could all just walk around comparing lists with each other until each of us found a perfect match. And I don’t know, maybe that’s how some people actually do it–the people who have strict rules about only dating thin, white blondes or tall, rich guys with full heads of hair. The people who think about potential romantic partners in terms of how others will see them, not in terms of what they see. But the rest of us just have to stumble around and wait for the zing!

The waiting can suck, if you prefer being in a relationship. It can suck a lot. But the zing! does not depend on thinness or whiteness or blondeness or tallness or richness or haired-ness. It depends on the time, place, and person, on a host of things you can’t control, and on another host of things you can’t even consciously recognize.

That is the reality, people. That is a fact. That is just me being honest.

*This did, however, produce one of the best Al quotes of all time: “I mean, I could look like Philip Seymour Hoffmann… if I worked out.”

257 thoughts on “In Which I Ramble About Attraction”

  1. As usual, spot on, Kate! I would point out that the modern world divides people — not into “attractive” and “unattractive” — but into “beautiful” and “unattractive” and that the standards for beautiful are as strenuous as they are ridiculous.
    Also it is the modern world that does this, some of the greatest beauties of the past were “fat” (Marilyn would never make it in this crazy world, and that woman was HOT) Nor would Jane Russell. Nor Lillian Russell.
    I am also constantly surprised and disappointed at the number of men who seem to think that they “deserve” the right to reject women because of their weight — regardless of the weight and relative hotness of the judge! There are some butt ugly fat guys (who, admittedly, some women find hot) who feel it’s perfectly all right to insult a woman’s appearance.
    Thanks for the blog, but you have got me all worked up. And right after breakfast!

  2. It just cracks me up when people say that fat chicks can’t get men. It really does. Why? Because 99% of the men I know have only dated fat women. We have a friend that ONLY dates big women..BIG women. He says he doesn’t care if they are big or small…but he seems to only be attracted to the big girls…and guess what fat haters…he is thin.

    Yep…a thin man who is only attracted to fat women. Both is ex wife and current wife are big girls, and all his ex girlfriends are big girls. ALL of them.

    So, If you think that ONLY fat people are attracted to other fat people…I would like to know what world you are from or what drugs you are taking. All it takes is opening your eyes to see that is indeed an Urban Legend.

  3. Damn straight. Some people find me attractive, some people don’t. Those who don’t obviously wouldn’t be a great partner because they wouldn’t be happy with me, nor I with them.

    Plus I wouldn’t get the 24 hour foot-worshipping adulation I require to even get out of bed in the morning ;)

    Joking aside, everyone is a whole lot more interesting, fun to be around and attractive when they’re getting on with their life and having fun rather than worrying if their arse is too big/small/round/square/whatever

  4. Kate, I love you. I think my brain would have just exploded, faced with that much hate and stupidity, but instead you actually addressed it.

    Major baby-flavored kudos to you. Also, much thanks–it’s so reassuring to know there are people out there who can actually think in the face of such awfulness. Thank you.

  5. I was annoyed and disgusted by that comment the other day (because you are beautiful, and you can just look at you and tell that you’re smart, witty and know what’s what), but I was also… bewildered. The hateful little post didn’t fit there- wasn’t it in reply to your gayest look? I’m baffled. This guy must be a very offended Jay Leno fan, who found that segment hilarious.

  6. When you said that people shouldn’t read the whole thing ’cause it could trigger…you were right. But I was dumb and plunged through half of it before my breakfast forced its way into my throat. Being desperate to be found attractive, being desperate to be loved ruined my life for a good five years while I struggled to find a way out and then recover from an abusive relationship. I’m still not 100% in love with myself but I’m working. Some days are harder than others and unfortunately, the past few days have not been good ones. But I really appreciate you making this post because it gives me (and hopefully others like me) a little glimmer of light on very, very dark days.

  7. Kate: WORD to your entire post.

    Sandy: “So, If you think that ONLY fat people are attracted to other fat people…I would like to know what world you are from or what drugs you are taking. All it takes is opening your eyes to see that is indeed an Urban Legend.”

    Yeah, no kidding. The couple across the street from us is a fat woman married to a tall, thin, good-looking in a well-groomed, slightly geeky glasses kind of way man, and he’s absolutely crazy about her (and vice versa). One of my friends from way back is a fat woman, and is also married to a tall, thin man- again, he’s crazy about her (and vice versa). So yeah, asserting that men are only attracted to thin women is bullshit. And asserting that all men only find one type of woman attractive (usually either tall, thin, blonde with small breasts or Jessica Alba) smacks of a lack of mental/emotional maturation beyond high school.

  8. Not to mention trolls I thought had gone away, who pop up to say “Kate, what do you think of children getting taken away from their parents for being fat, because I can’t read and can’t use the search function and can’t IMAGINE how you could POSSIBLY feel about that,” and who then assume that if we get snippy it’s because we’re not getting laid.

    I almost want a sentence in the “About Us” section to the effect of “NEWSFLASH FOR TROLLS: EVERY ONE OF US IS IN A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP. A HETEROSEXUAL RELATIONSHIP, AS IT TURNS OUT. EVEN THE GAY ONE.” Of course it’s more or less a fluke that everyone who blogs here is happily partnered, but it certainly puts paid to the idea that fat women (or non-fat feminists, in SM’s case) are unfuckable.

    It’s the people who try to drag in SCIENCE and EVOLUTION who really chap my hide. Not only are my preferences universal right now, but they are universal because of basic human nature, and have been universal since we were all riding around on sabre tooth tigers! Every male in the human species and every male who has ever been in the human species must agree with me in order to ratify my preferences, because I’m too insecure to just be attracted or not attracted to someone without a sausage army standing behind me!

  9. fillyjonk: “t’s the people who try to drag in SCIENCE and EVOLUTION who really chap my hide. Not only are my preferences universal right now, but they are universal because of basic human nature, and have been universal since we were all riding around on sabre tooth tigers! Every male in the human species and every male who has ever been in the human species must agree with me in order to ratify my preferences, because I’m too insecure to just be attracted or not attracted to someone without a sausage army standing behind me!”

    Well, that’s also their excuse for continuing to ogle 16-year-olds, even when they’re old enough themselves to have fathered said 16-year-olds. “Oh, the wife hit 30, and her clothing size is now in the double-digits. I can’t help it, it’s genetic for me to want skinny teenagers.” Bastards.

  10. By the way, just as some support for the idea that attraction is *gasp* not entirely physical: I just asked Dan what celebrities he would dump me for. He said “probably none of them. I don’t know any of them. They’re mostly terrible people.”

    (We haven’t yet evaluated the “what celebrities would you take on as a secondary partner” question yet, mind you. Because he said I’d dump him for Hugh Laurie, and I thought that was pretty astute, but really I don’t think I’d dump him for anyone.)

  11. Well, that’s also their excuse for continuing to ogle 16-year-olds, even when they’re old enough themselves to have fathered said 16-year-olds.

    Oh, no kidding, one of those wrote in to one of the local advice columnists recently and I nearly lost my breakfast on my morning commute. Which is a problem because I DON’T EVEN EAT BREAKFAST UNTIL I GET TO WORK. But it was THAT BAD.

    Blah blah blah, I’m wired to be a pedophile! Well, that’s as may be, but you live in a fucking society now.

  12. If those asshats think fat people can’t get laid, they need to come over in my neck of the woods. I see fat women and men with SO’s all the damn time! And guess what? They have kids! THEY BREEDED! And you want to know what else? Most of these kids DO NOT HAVE TEH EBIL AND GROSS FATZ LIKE THEIR PARENTS!

    I realize that the majority of men and women do not want to date fat people. But why can’t they just say, “I’m not attracted to fat people” and be done with it? No, they have to make sick, vile, and digusting comments about our bodies and seeing us eating and of course, bringing up rape.

    Like many of my fellow fat gals, I’ve been hit on by nothing but skinny guys when I go out, and my friend, who is also fat, gets it as well. So put that in your salad and crunch it.

  13. The science argument makes me want to laugh and puke simultaneously (but I’m trying to restrain myself lest I end up in an unfortunate vomit out the nose situation). Evolution doesn’t make men cheat on their wives or, as i-geek suggested, oggle 16-year-olds. It doesn’t make women better suited to housework. And it doesn’t make all men genetically programmed to only get erections for an airbrushed girl on the cover of Maxim. Because evolution did actually give us this big, wonderful, brain that allows us to you know, think and make decisions and have preferences of our own! But if you can claim that evolution made you do it, it justifies you acting like an asshat because you’re just looking out for the good of the species!

    Unfortunately for me, I’m still trying to unbrainwash myself from that kind of crap and realize that I am a pretty damn cute human being and that I have other pretty damn awesome qualities as well, and that my fat ass doesn’t mean I am automatically an ugly, worthless, unlovable piece of trash. My friends have marveled at my total obliviousness to men who’ve taken an interest in me because for so long I’ve written that off as impossible because I’m not a perfect size four.

    Things like this post serve as a great reminder that that kind of thinking is bullshit.

  14. Reading your post made me realize that on the dating front, I’m not even trying to do it because I am so afraid that I am not enough–pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough, all of the “enough’s” that I internally believe I have to be so that I am “acceptable” to date. I literally say to myself, “well, you really have to get a better job and loose some poundage before you put yourself out there because you’ll get played”, as if somehow money and a smaller dress size will protect me from rejection. So I spend night after night lamenting how lonely I am.

    I seriously need to get over myself.

    I am enough.

    I am MORE than enough.

    Thank you, Kate.

  15. Well, that’s as may be, but you live in a fucking society now.

    Fillyjonk, this should be on a t-shirt. Or tattooed on our foreheads at birth.

  16. Kate, I love you for writing this. It really brought tears to my eyes. I loved this part:

    The fact is, I am “an unbelievably unattractive woman”–and also an unbelievably attractive woman, a kinda meh woman, a kinda cute woman, and everything else on the spectrum between “eww” and “ooh.” It all depends on who’s looking–

    It’s just so true. One of the things I’ve been having difficulty with in accepting myself as a fat women is that I personally don’t find myself attractive. I never really have. And it’s not that I haven’t been attracted to fat people in the past. But for some reason I judge myself much more harshly and assume everyone must see me with the same eyes.

    But lately I’ve started to realize I’m just me. Regardless of how my shape has changed throughout my life, I’ve always been me. I’m someone that some people have been attracted to, and others have been put off by, for more reasons than just my weight. And that will always be the case. Sure, I might have an easier time if I were a more “acceptable size”, but I think it’s about time I stopped putting so much energy in being disappointed with myself for something that is just one aspect of who I am.

  17. (applauds)

    Well said, Kate!

    While there are physical characteristics I tend to prefer over others, it’s personality that matters most to me. When I started dating Mr. Twistie, he wasn’t what I would have described as ‘my type’ though I don’t think I’d ever actually dated a guy who fit my physical ideal. Who cares? He took me on the perfect first date. He laughed at all my jokes and then riffed on them, no matter how surreal or obscure. He was willing to share garlic fondue on a first date. He was willing to disagree with me on issues and back up his ideas with considered logic…and he was willing to hear my logic on the same ideas. What’s more, he was willing to ask me what I meant when I referenced something he wasn’t familiar with.

    I was actually thin when Mr. Twistie and I started dating. The fat blossomed later. He’s seen the changes in my body, my mind, my soul, and my tastes. He’s followed my journey as I’ve followed his. There are a few things that have never changed, though, and one of them is that he still tells me I’m beautiful pretty much every day. Another is that no matter what whacky idea has popped into my head about how I want to live or what I want to do, he believes absolutely that if I give it my best shot I’ll succeed. I have the same absolute faith in him, and I find him gorgeous, bypass scars and all.

    Oh, and I will say this about general attractiveness: when I was thin, I spent a lot of time alone with my cats or sitting in a corner at parties where nobody particularly wanted to be with me. As a fat woman, I’ve actually had a man in a van come to a screeching halt in hopes of discovering that I was single. It’s not that I suddenly became beautiful when I became fat. It’s not that I wasn’t pretty when I was thin. It’s not that all men want to be with fat women. I think it has more to do with the fact that while I was opinionated and outspoken as a younger woman, I was also desperately sexually insecure. I needed to alternately stand on soapboxes and be reassured that I wasn’t hideous. Now I’m opinionated, outspoken and secure in my sexuality. Scares the ever-loving shit out of some, but it’s a magnet to those who find opinions hot.

    And as someone who can find David Bowie and Orson Welles both supremely hot (okay, it’s true: I have a voice fetish and I can’t help myself) I can definitely get behind the idea that attraction is entirely subjective. That’s probably a big part of why my short, fat, mini-boobed ass doesn’t get threatened by the fact that whenever Mr. Twistie walks into the room when I’m watching my Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs and Cordelia appears on the screen, he says ‘Oh, there’s the pretty one!’ with a great big smile on his face. He’s just hot for opinionated women. That means I’m in no danger of losing his interest.

    Also, I assume those who think all attraction is purely biological in basis as defined by what’s best for propagating the species don’t believe it’s possible to be queer and find a mate, or that a childless marriage can be happy, or even that it’s possible to find happiness without a mate. I’d just like to blow a big, wet, juicy raspberry at anyone who makes such brainless, heartless, stoopid assumptions.

    Besides, anyone who has that much time for trolling? I tend to assume it’s in large part because they don’t have anything (or anyone) better to do. That’s just pathetic.

  18. I was thinking the other day about how much I don’t like the idea of “type”. Like, oh, my type is skinny women, or fat women, or “curvy” women, or women with red hair, or short women, or women with dreads, or whatever. Women do this too, of course, but I think it’s a typically privileged-male impulse that women take up. I was thinking about this because I was having a conversation with my boyfriend and I said something about what I perceived his “type” to be (mostly because it makes me feel better) and I think I said “you like chicks with a little junk in the trunk, don’t you?”

    He said, “Actually, I like women.”

    Oh. Good point. And he has said before that he “casts a wide net,” and I think that absent cultural pressures to find only conventionally attractive women hot (or a feeling that you are somehow special by choosing to only like Fat Chicks), most people would cast a wide net, too. I think most people do cast a wide net. I have had male acquaintances that would say, if they were more assholish, that they tend to prefer thin women, obvious from the fact that they only ever date thin women. But I have also been quite aware that those same male acquaintances were attracted to me. It’s like they didn’t know what to do when they had feelings that were outside the cultural script of which kinds of women you can date and be attracted to.

    Part of the reason I think that “having a type” is an appealing state of being is two reasons: first, it makes you feel like You Are Special and your preferences are Part Of Your Identity (you see this all the time with kids who hold on to their dislike of lettuce for thirty years). Second, if you date people who fall into that type, the idea that that’s your type is reassuring to them, too. No, he doesn’t like me because of a combination of uncertain factors that could disappear at any moment, he wants to bone me because I’m His Type! He’s biologically and psychologically programmed to lust after my ass!

    I just don’t think it works like that. Sure, if I look in my dating past, it tends to be guys around 6 feet or so who are medium-build-to-stocky, with dark curly hair. Most of the time. But I’ve also desperately wanted to fuck guys who were 5’5″, and guys who were dirty blond, and guys who were really scrawny, and guys with red hair and freckles. So, yeah, I don’t have a “type.” Not physically, anyway.

    I don’t think most people do, but I think that it’s easier than trying to figure out every single time whether you are attracted to an individual, and people are lazy. Plus, they’re uncomfortable being attracted to people that don’t fit into their attractiveness narrative, conventional or unconventional as it may be. People really are quite odd.

  19. I’ve got to de-lurk for this one. This is why I love this site – you take some stupid troll comment and turn it into something thought-provoking and inspiring. Whereas, I would have just been a smart-ass (“Oooh, some anymous man in cyberspace doesn’t find me attractive! I must slash my wrists!”)
    When I put myself out there on the dating market, I don’t have too much trouble finding dates despite the fact that I’m fat. The one bit of advice I would give to anyone, fat or thin, who is thinking about online dating. Send prospective dates a photo of yourself right away. And not just a head shot. You don’t want to waste your time with people who aren’t going to be attracted to you for whatever reason.

  20. wow….fat people will never find someone to date? or marry them? i guess I totally dreamt this, then.

    the problem here is that douchebags have internet access and a basic grasp of the english language. as long as that is allowed, they will spew their idiot proclamations wherever they can.

    honestly, methinks the fellows doth protest too much. my theory is that at some point, they got a hard on one time when they found their mom’s lane bryant catalog, and it freaked them out. so now they’ll spend as much time possible proclaiming HEY UR SO FAT! OMGWTFBBQ!!!11!!! so no one knows they’re SHAMEFUL SECRET!

    douchebag closet cases.

  21. I also missed the “un”! I also find Brad Pitt profoundly uninteresting!

    I really don’t care about what a potential boyfriend looks like. I suppose it’s better if crocodiles didn’t bite off his face, at least not radioactive pus-oozing-disease-carrying crocodiles. Personality traits are just infinitely more important, and most people who are not total jerks, who I’d be perfectly happy to be friends or acquaintances with, still don’t have quite the kind of personality I want to be quite that intimately involved with. So if I then said he also has to look like a male model (and one to my tastes, what’s more), I’d be cutting my pool down to zero pretty much for sure.

  22. Now I’m opinionated, outspoken and secure in my sexuality. Scares the ever-loving shit out of some, but it’s a magnet to those who find opinions hot.


    It’s like they didn’t know what to do when they had feelings that were outside the cultural script of which kinds of women you can date and be attracted to.

    To that, too.

  23. That’s why a lot of these trolls and fat-haters are so damn bitter and hateful. They think they can land someone who looks like George Clooney or Heidi Klum when in all reality, the only way they’ll interact with them is typing with one hand in front of their downloaded pictures on the computer.

  24. I found this way easier to believe after my first relationship. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 18, and it was easy to believe that the reason no one in high school was into me (that I knew of) was because I was a fat cow. But in my first relationship, whatever its faults, I never had *any* doubt that my ex found me smoking hot, was sexually attracted to me, was proud to claim me as girlfriend in front of crowds, etc. And from there, I could extrapolate, “Well, if J. finds me so attractive, surely he’s not the only person in the whole world, so there must be other people who find me attractive.”

    I struggle myself with not finding fat men attractive. I understand that this is likely part of the internalized fatphobia I have going on. I want to overcome it. On the other hand, I never want to fake attraction. So, I’m just kind of sitting with it as an example of the way fat-hate is fed to all of us, and waiting to see where that goes as I learn to love my own fat more.

  25. I constantly say this but, conditional love is not love. If you have to lose weight, wear makeup, keep your hair long, have a boob job, botox or lipo to keep someone around, that’s because they’re a manipulative asshole who doesn’t actually love you. You are fine just the way you are, and anyone who doesn’t like that should be told to kiss your ass. If someone doesn’t love you for who you are, not what you look like, then they don’t love you. It’s ok, there are 6 billion people on the planet, wait long enough and there will be another offer. Anyone who tries to manipulate you by saying that “no one will ever love you” has some serious issues to work through and should be avoided like the plague.

  26. Dangit, forgot to post my celebrity hottie: Chris Gauthier. Hmm, and possibly Prince and Conan O’Brien (study in contrasts much?). Hmm, and as much as she sometimes sets my teeth on edge, Martha Stewart. And not Martha done up in some Vanity Fair photo shoot, Martha in those shapeless shirts she wears for tv. Yowzah!

    Attraction is indeed very subjective.

  27. I’m halfway through reading this post and I have to stop and say – I GET why people think Prince is hot. I’m just saying that he’s a bit on the tiny side and I don’t think he’s ready for my jelly! I prefer big guys LIKE MY BOYFRIEND WHO HAPPENS TO LOVE MY BIG, FAT ASS THANKYOU.

  28. One day in college, I was rushing across the quad to get to class. I was feeling pretty grody – hadn’t showered in a few days, was wearing a voluminous sweatshirt, jeans and a ballcap, no makeup (because I generally don’t wear any), hair in a half-assed ponytail, hunched over by my full backpack. I was a size 14 back then, but felt like I was the Goodyear blimp.

    And as I sped by one guy on the sidewalk, he totally checked me out.

    In that moment, I had an epiphany: no matter what you look like, someone, somewhere is going to find you attractive.

    Flash forward to this very week. I showed off my belly dancing routine to my husband and he commented positively on my posterior, i.e. “I love your butt.” Really? I thought at first he was kidding, but he wasn’t. He really likes my big ol’ backside. In seven years of marriage, I didn’t know that.

    Trolls are sad, lonely people acting out to make themselves feel better about their sad, lonely lives by making others feel worse. And THAT is unattractive to just about everyone.

  29. I struggle myself with not finding fat men attractive. I understand that this is likely part of the internalized fatphobia I have going on.

    Or you just haven’t met the fat man you’re attracted to yet. Trust me, as someone who never dated fat men until I met the fat man I’m going to marry, I worried I was a hypocrite too. Then I realized that I’m not obligated to find all fat people attractive just because I don’t think all fat people are automatically unattractive. I find people I’m attracted to attractive; most of them aren’t fat, but some of them — including the most important one — are.

    (Although oddly — or, really, not that oddly — I find fat men in general much more attractive now than I did before I was engaged to one. Falling in love with someone who you wouldn’t have thought was your “type” really teaches you how restrictive the idea of a “type” is, and expands your horizons.)

  30. Prince and Conan O’Brien (study in contrasts much?)

    Right there with you! I think Conan might actually have been on the list in that conversation, too.

    I GET why people think Prince is hot. I’m just saying that he’s a bit on the tiny side and I don’t think he’s ready for my jelly!

    Hee! Okay. I will move you over to the “Prince is hot” column in my head. Glad we cleared that up.

  31. There is something about the sentence… is it like a visual trick? Maybe it’s the two un’s in a row; unbelievably unattractive. ‘Cause I read it that way too. Of course, it could just be that of COURSE I assumed it said attractive, like you all did. But that was weird.

    Lose the weight and gain the power to choose.

    They don’t notice the paradox. We are choosing not to lose the weight. They are the ones who can’t choose… they are forced to diet or be fat and miserable. We have more choices than those, I think.

    Amazing and excruciating post.

  32. Well, chalk me up as one of those intelligent fatties who also read attractive. I couldn’t figure out how the sentence about Al being closeted followed that.

    I’m also not going to say something like fuck him, you’re beautiful, because even though you are, why the fuck should that matter anyway?

    Ahhhh, people. Makes me nervous for being not-pregnant again and back to being just a big disgusting fatty who must have only gotten laid out of sympathy from her husband who couldn’t possibly find her attractive. (eyes rolling out of head)

    Now I’m off to actually reading the comments here… :-)

  33. I recently passed a billboard (off of 95 through Baltimore) that was advertising WLS and said “lose pounds, gain options” or something like that… I screamed at it “fuck you!! I have pounds AND options!!!”

    FJ, yes, good point. Perhaps the fat man I will be attracted to is just waiting to come along. I just am leaving myself open to the possibility.

  34. Karen, since you’ve now name-checked both Balto and Dor-Ne Corset Shoppe, you live in my neck of the woods which means you will probably eventually see my boyfriend around and it will be a revelation. (You can’t have him, though.) ;)

  35. Seriously, I just have to LAUGH at these people. Do they live in the real world? I see ALL TYPES of people paired up on a DAILY basis.

    And me? The “morbidly obese” woman? Men downright stare at me in public – so much, that my mom pointed it out when I got down on myself for calling myself ugly. The same for my sister. She managed to attract two husbands and have three beautiful children!

    My best male friend is nuts about me – mentally and physically. And “love” based simply on physical attraction is not the kind of love that lasts – and it doesn’t pan out in the real world either.

    And props to Godless Heather for pointing out that conditional love is an oxymoron.

  36. Kate, you are the awesomest. I felt so bad that I accidentally approved that comment, but you have turned it into a fantastic post. I’m still sorry I did! But I’m not sorry this post came out of it.

  37. Alright, so if we’re talking personal experiences here, I haven’t gotten much male attention but that’s likely because I’ve spent most of my adult life depressed and hating myself. I don’t really look any different now but I’ve done a lot of work on my self esteem and confidence and that confidence, even when I was faking it, was what my BF finds most attracive about me. And the aforementioned big fat ass. But mostly my confidence and overall personality.

    I can tell you this – if I spent every second of my life thinking and talking about how much I hate myself, I probably wouldn’t be with my boyfriend right now.

    SOME men find a big, confident woman to be the sexiest thing in the world. SOME men like women who are quiet and petite or short or tall or thin or fat or blond or blue with green polka dots or WHATEVER. Whatever!

    I guess a lot of people ASSUME that fat people have low self esteem and they ASSUME that whole “if you can’t love yourself, who can?” thing means that no one can love a fat person because fat people clearly have low self esteem and try to fill up their empty hearts with food. Which is bullshit, of course but it’s what people are beaten over the head with.

    I’m just going to blame television. How often do you see a fat woman on TV who is in a normal, happy, loving relationship? Like, never. How often do you see a fat woman who is sexless, or depicted as a slut, or any other fat woman stereotype? All the time.

    I’ve just decided that anyone who thinks I’m unattractive can just go ahead and NOT LOOK AT ME. It’s not like I’m holding a gun to anyone’s head.

    And that whole fat women and rape thing? That one pisses me off so much I’m choosing not to think about it right now because it’ll just ruin my day. So there.

  38. Prince’s swagger is hot. He has this effortless THING about him that I totally get. But in terms of aging 80s pop icons, Bono will always have my heart. He’s actually not much taller than Prince but I’ve just always loved him.

    The rest of my celebrity crushes are really cliche so… yeah. Bono!

  39. I’m really amused by how many people misread it, actually! Talk about not getting your point across in writing. I think the idea that it’s some kind of optical illusion where your brain edits out repetition, like this one, is pretty astute.

  40. I think the idea that it’s some kind of optical illusion where your brain edits out repetition, like this one, is pretty astute.

    I think the idea that everyone believes I’m so hot they couldn’t fathom reading it another way is even more astute. :)

  41. I misread it too! I think it partly has to do with the “goddamn, Kate” part. I keep reading it in Justin Timberlake’s voice.

    Also, awesome post.

  42. Great post Kate. It’s interesting how attraction works. My fiance is into short, chubby brunettes with big racks, glasses, and interesting noses. Which is pretty much me. But he’s also in to me. So I know even if I get fat(ter) or thin or lose the glasses or dye my hair blonde, he’ll still find me attractive, because it’s me who he finds attractive, not my appearance. On the other hand, I’m into guys with dark hair, dark eyes, and olive skin. But my fiance has blonde hair, pale pinkish skin, and blue eyes. When I first met him I thought he was cute but not really my type, but the more I got to know him, the more I thought he was the most attractive man in the world. Because I’m attracted to him. (And because the sex is amazing ;) heh.)

  43. I too saw “unbelievably attractive.” Huh.

    And thank you for this lovely post. I’ve just been talking about how hard it is to grasp that men can actually find me attractive. Whiny, whiny me. This post is a good shot in the arm.


    Yeah. Those are always dredged up to support the patriarchy.

    If science and evolution are the only consideration in relationships, then throw away your car keys, your air conditioning, your clothing and, well everything that signifies civilization.

    By this thinking, we should still be furrowing our brows over things like precision grip and fire. We should be living in grass huts and eating bugs. We MUST bow to pre-history. Because, you know, that proves that heterosexual male privilege is, in fact, a god damned birthright.

    Suck it, you nimrods. I mean, really. Suck it ’til your brain implodes. The rest of us are trying to EVOLVE into something more just and sustainable.

  45. Awesome post! Up there with your best and you’ve set a pretty high bar.

    I’ve always liked men of all shapes and sizes. My husband is built like John Goodman. I find John Goodman very sexy, always have, even in my skinny-worshipping youth. My husband is a leg man who likes small tits. He got the small tits with me, but from a leg perspective I’m way too short to be described as leggy so he had to adjust his “type” because he fell for me. It may be a cliche, but beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and a beautiful personality transforms the person you’re looking at and makes them more pleasing to the eye.

    Those with a very shallow world view have a hard time believing that there are people (particularly men) with more depth and humanity than they have. They want their manhood to be an excuse for their viciousness and are very threatened by decent men who challenge that assumption by their very existence. If they truly felt secure that they’re speaking universal truths they wouldn’t have to keep repeating themselves (so often in ALL CAPS so they can SCREAM!!!! at us) on sites where their venomous screeds will either be deleted of met with scorn. I mean this asshole finds Kate “unbelievably unattractive”! Well, surprise me cunt! But who the fuck cares what this fool thinks anyway? Contrary to his claims, he speaks for no one but himself.

    Personally, I believe we all read the comment wrong because most of us find Kate so beautiful that calling her “unbelievably attractive” is the phrase that makes sense to us, and so we read it that way.

  46. You know, craziest thing in this world is that I have never had a problem dating, even though people think otherwise… as for instinct and evolution contributing to picking out a “mate”, well, I don’t date guys with what I called “piggy eyes” (think George W Bush) because they creep me out.

    What people find attractive is all different than what mold society if trying to force us to believe. I don’t find George Clooney or Brad Pitt attractive, but if I had to choose, it’d be George – Brad’s just unattractive to me, like his partner Angelina Jolie. She weirds me out with her big lips and no hips..

  47. Although I’ve been happily married for 11 years, on occasion, I do lament that my potential dating pool is somewhat smaller because I’m fat.

    But then I remind myself: Why would I want to date someone who would only like me if I were thinner?

    I think one of the problems a lot of fat people (mostly women, but men, too) have is that they beat themselves up for not being attractive to assholes. They do terrible things to themselves in the pursuit of attention from total jerks. Why? Are they all just masochists? Yes, here, let me torture myself–shortening my life in the process–into some bizarre approximation of Barbiehood just so I can hook up with someone who will treat me like garbage anyway! Gee, what person WOULDN’T want that, eh?

    Realistically speaking, I do know that there are otherwise-sane people out there who just have a socially conditioned aversion to someone my size, and that if I were 100 lbs lighter, most of them would be fine. I wouldn’t have to be rail-thin, just able to board an airplane without having to buy two seats. And on that count, it is depressing.

    But mostly, it’s depressing because THOSE people are missing out on a much larger dating pool, too.

    I think about all of the SATC/perpetually single girls out there who can’t seem to find a “good man” and I think… what? Why? There are good men all around you (and good women, too, if that’s what trips your triggers.) You’re just not seeing them because YOU have ingrained biases, too. You’re endlessly pursuing “hot” jerks because that’s what you’ve been brainwashed to find attractive.

    Same thing for a lot of guys. They whine about getting turned down all the time by women at bars or whatever and I think… honey? Why are you shopping at a bar anyway? And why are you limiting yourself to women who look like models?

    I weigh 310 lbs, and yet I’m deliriously happy with a guy who loves every inch of me (and not in a chubby chaser fetish way–he loves ME.) Meanwhile, there are all these people who are maybe 20 lbs “overweight” or who have a big nose or bad skin or any number of other supposed imperfections who are single and miserable ONLY because they’ve limited their OWN choices to people who could be on magazine covers.

    As the Body Shop ads used to say: there are 5 billion women who don’t look like supermodels and only 8 who do. Limiting one’s potential partner pool to only those 8 women is going to mean a lot of nights sleeping alone.

    People age. Bodies change. People get injured or ill or any number of other things. Basing one’s happiness in relationships on the relative size of one’s partner’s ass is a recipe for misery and divorce.

  48. I misread that comment too and sat there long afterwards wondering what the hell you guys were talking about when you were discussing how you misread it until I finally noticed. Oy.

    My “list” of attractive attributes has always been sense of humor, intelligence, confidence, and common interests. I’m sure physical stuff is on there somewhere, but I used to think something was wrong with me because I never had crushes on teen idols and movie stars. I kept waiting for the day when I’d suddenly go nuts for that kind of thing and it never happened.

    The first time I lost a lot of weight it did feel like I suddenly got more unsolicited attention from men than when I was heavier, and it was really disconcerting and honestly a little frightening. No doubt because I was young and really insecure, but also because it seemed to me like such an illogical idea. “I don’t know you, but I can tell by simply looking at your body, that we should be together and I will aggressively pursue that possibility.” I’m sure it can and does happen for people that way, but I can’t relate to it.

  49. I’m not even trying to do it because I am so afraid that I am not enough–pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough, all of the “enough’s” that I internally believe I have to be so that I am “acceptable” to date.

    Mizbig, I am so totally a romantic, so you’ll forgive my flight of fancy, but when I read that I pictured some frustrated soul writing in their diary, “Why the hell can’t I just meet someone whofits me?”

    And I wanted to shout, “Don’t worry! You’ll meet her! She’s drumming up her courage right now! Hang on!”

  50. I mean this asshole finds Kate “unbelievably unattractive”! Well, surprise me cunt!

    This made me LOL really hard. “Surprise me cunt!” remains one of the best things ever to come from this blog.

  51. Look, anyone who dates another person based solely on looks or weight has the mentality of a 15 year-old and, I don’t know about you, but I don’t date 15 year-olds.

    (OK, I’m married, so I don’t date ANYONE, but I think you know what I mean,lol!)

  52. One of my omg-someone-might-genuinely-find-me-attractive epiphanies was me compiling a list of Celebrities I’d Do for some early internet meme and realising it had all kinds of shapes and sizes and looks on it. And if I found all those people attractive, some of whom were as big or bigger than me, then surely the reverse could also be true.

  53. And because my brain is slow this morning and can’t put two thoughts together into one comment – I read that word as “attractive” as well.

  54. Add me to the list who read it as “unbelievably attractive” too!

    Attraction is *very* subjective. While i can appreciate what the media would classify as a particularly attractive or “hot” man, that’s not what I personally find most appealing. I’m more drawn to average-build, boy-next-door-ish types, usually with a bit of a belly. I’d be hesistant to say I have a “type,” though, because that suggests I wouldn’t date someone outside of that category, and that is not the case.

    Kind of on point..I was talking to a male friend last night and he said, “You show me a supermodel standing naked next to a girl with about 20 or 30 ‘extra’ pounds on her… I’d pick the girl 100% of the time.”

  55. This is the one thing that I have the hardest time letting go of. I’ve never been in a relationship, ever. I didn’t get kissed till I was 21. I have a very hard time believing that people could find me attractive. And a big part of that is being fat. I think I’m awesome, but I just can’t bring myself to think that other people think I’m gorgeous. Hell, there was recently a very drama-filled situation with a boy and two of my friends and me, and one of the things I was pissed about, to my surprise, was that he was flirting with me while getting really close to a relationship with a girl who is about the size of my arm. That I was okay for fooling with, but for a commited relationship, I wasn’t good enough – which in my head means I wasn’t skinny enough.

    Perhaps I should take this to my blog. But thank you for writing about this, Kate.

  56. I just want to say, thank you so much for this brilliant post. It’s completely right, and I really needed to read it today. I’ve been coming to terms with some weight gain for a few months, and I was out last night and had one of those, “I’m empirically disgusting” moments when I looked in the bathroom mirror. Thank you for reminding me that there’s no “empirically” about it.

    I’ll add that it sounds like hippie bullshit, but people who are comfortable in their own skin are attractive. Maybe not to everyone, but to a lot of people.

  57. or rather, that my “empirically” is different than another person’s “empirically,” and that’s the whole point.

  58. I thought it said ‘unbelievably Attractive” too. I actually to read it 3 times to figure it out.

    I am a bi-sexual woman and I would never call myself a “chubby chaser” because I have liked all types of women. But I do find that I’m usually drawn to fat women (of average height). I have no idea why. They just always look really sensual to me. Like I just want to reach out grab her. Even weirder… as far as men go, I usually like thin-ish guys. (Unless their name is Jon Favreau, cause he’s just plain hot)

    BTW I happen to be 5’9″, 125lbs, small waist, large-ish breasts. The supposed genetic ideal. And I am not attracted AT ALL to women who look like me.

    I realize some might find my opinion moot since according to “science” I should only be attracted to people who can impregnate me, so I’ve obviously got my brain on backwards.

    Also, if men were genetically predisposed to be attracted to a certain type of woman, wouldn’t they be attracted to fat women? After all, in cave man times, food was scarce, so Mr. Caveman would probably see a fat woman as a woman with access to lots of food and therefore, a good provider for her children.
    But whatevs

    What’s really sad is that, as attracted to fat women as I am, and as pro pro pro! body acceptance as I am, I still don’t like myself to be fat. I am 125lbs only because I monitor what I eat. Naturally, I am actually 135lbs. But that number makes me unhappy. How warped is that?

    Anyway, love your blog. You are fabulous.

  59. This entry depressed me. Not your words, Kate, of course, but the troll excerpts.

    When I was in middle school, a boy told me, “You’re so ugly no one would ever rape you.” To this day, even though I know that rape has nothing to do with attraction, whenever I hear about a non-stereotypically “attractive” woman being raped, part of me wonders if she’s lying.

  60. hahahah! me too, kate! me too!

    *quote*The funny thing is, Sweet Machine approved it because she only skimmed, and thought he was calling me an unbelievably attractive woman. Funnier still, Fillyjonk and I both thought the same thing when we first read it, even though I puzzled over the closeted boyfriend bit (and the fact that he would pick that picture to swoon over, frankly). But still, even while misreading it as a compliment, I agreed heartily with Shapeling Jen’s immediate response: “Go fuck yourself.”

    i did the same thing, *the exact same thoughts went through my head, no shit*… only the funniest part – and my former job as a copy editor and proofer of legal documents should be tossed in here somewhere, i guess just to prove to myself i’m not an extraordinarily crappy reader generally – is that my brain changed the ‘closeted’ boyfriend to ‘closest’ boyfriend, making me wonder momentarily how many boyfriends you had.

    is that hilarious? then i had to go back when i got to the ‘go fuck yourself’ part, thinking, wait, what??

    and read it again. then one more time. then i was (finally) left with the accurate interpretation of this trollpost, which left me laughing, again. douche of all douches – you win! you win the prize for completely failing to get your point across, because (at least) four confident, hot women read your spew and *automatically* rejected it.

    meaning, what? that troll’s writing isn’t clear? no, that this troll’s attitude is no longer the standard. which is the point of FA, so welcome to the new world order.

    i laugh, laugh laugh at you, you pathetic sad sack of a man. who I’M SURE is quite the physical and intellectual prize himself. ha! hahahah.

    (and yes, ms. kate, i *did* have to skip the end of the post, sorry – one douchehound a day is my limit!) but at least i got a laugh. thanks, kate. YOU RULE.

  61. Well, why WOULD we see it as anything except “unbelievably attractive”? I mean, we’d have to be stupid NOT to think that about you, yes? Plus I know you moderate first-time commenters and generally let us know when there’s a douchenozzle on the loose, so probably my brain just didn’t parse that you’d let someone comment who was actually insulting you.

    lose the weight and gain the power to choose

    Someone is selling Herbalife MLM, I just know it.

    Yeah. The power to choose. Even fat people buy that one. “I will have my choice of WONDERFUL PARTNERS once I am slender who are all totally repulsed by me now!” The power to choose. The power to choose being hungry all day, every day, and going to bed hungry at night even when you can afford not to. The power to choose cutting your already-minuscule calorie allowance back more and more and more if your weight starts to creep up again. The power to choose blowing your kidneys up being in a constant state of ketosis. “I will be LOVED, really truly LOVED and APPRECIATED, my partner will never stop staring at me in wonderment, ever.” The power to choose living in abject terror that you will gain weight, even a tiny amount of weight, and RUIN EVERYTHING. The power to hate yourself for having an appetite, hate yourself for the creaky knees that can’t take one more hour on the elliptical trainer, hate yourself for feeling fatigued by all this running around every spare second trying to be Beautiful For Him, while he’s done with his “beauty regimen” after a 20-minute run and a quick shower, hate yourself for the flab and the wrinkles and the infected hair follicles and the beard hairs that will show up anyway. “But it’s SO WORTH IT just to be kissed again. I need that SO MUCH.”

    Dude, you need it like a dolphin needs a net, if the cost of that kiss is getting to have a life.

  62. “It’s interesting how attraction works. My fiance is into short, chubby brunettes with big racks, glasses, and interesting noses. Which is pretty much me.”

    HAHA, you just described me too!

  63. Could someone explain to me why on EARTH I would want to be in a relationship with someone who was willing to love me at a size 8 but not at a size 20?

    Can someone explain to me why I should give the opinion of a person like that any thought whatsoever?

    The opinions of people who would reject or look down on you because you are fat or if you became fat are not worth the brainfarts of which they are composed. Their approval is worth significantly less.

    Why on earth would I want to have a relationship with someone whose acceptance of me hinges on, of all things, my weight? Why would I want to associate with such a narrow-minded, obnoxious jerkoff?

    I am not saying someone would have to be crazy to not want to screw me. As you so justly point out, attraction is attraction, and though I do think you’d have to be crazy to call me ugly, I don’t expect everyone to find me attractive.

    I just don’t see how I could ever be happy if I were in a relationship where I had dieted and exercised down to a size 10, say, because I knew that if I were heavier, my partner would reject me. That kind of conditional acceptance does not belong in a loving relationship. Full stop.

  64. Wow – great thinking in the post and comments.
    I met my husband when I was 22 years old, and haven’t been involved with anyone else since (doesn’t always go without saying, some people are okay with that) and in my mid-20s did wish I could know that others were also attracted to me. Now? I like to be reminded that my husband finds me attractive — he does — and I think for the most part, people get why we are a couple (not just for the shared parenting at this point).
    So, there’s love (which I am lucky enough to have) and there’s that sort of “am I attractive?” question which doesn’t have to do with finding and holding onto a partner. I think it was helpful for me to have that question of “will someone ever love me?” answered early (again, I chalk it up to luck — and a high tolerance for risk). Anyone who knows our relationship knows it hasn’t been easy — not abusive, not bad, just hard because that’s how life is, especially when there are two, and now three, stubborn people involved.

    I think we try to find reasons to explain why things aren’t going the way we want them to and fat (ours or others) makes a good scapegoat because it’s an accepted hatered (not by any means the only or most vehement one, and one that easily combines with others — i.e. fat + bitch, fat + dyke, etc.). It’s a hatered that you can bond with other haters (or self-haters) about. I guess that is true for most hatereds, which is why it’s so important to bring it out in the open and show it for what is it — which is what this blog, and the whole fatosphere are about.

    That phrase “you know what I’m talking about” — wink, wink — “every straight man” are attempts to feel connected to others through hatered.

  65. Add me in with the folks who read the troll wrong on first reading.

    I was also a late bloomer and I couldn’t believe that anyone would ever be attracted to me. It wasn’t until years later that I looked back with a somewhat clearer eye and realized that I wasn’t dating not because of OMG TEH FATZ, but because of *me*. Because of my issues. Once I got my head straightened out, many other things did, too. (Shades of “The Fantasy Of Being Thin”). And oh yeah, I was still teh fatz.

    And choice…gads, I went on so many boring dates because I thought I had to because at least the guy asked me and I thought that no one else ever would and at the end of the evening I would go home and think “boy, what a waste of time” until it finally ocurred to me that I didn’t have to go out with them if I wasn’t attracted. That I had a *choice*. It blew my mind.

    (It also led to the corrollary that if I didn’t have to be attracted to them, they didn’t have to be attracted to me, and that was ok. It kind of took the pressure off.)

    Finally, Tal wrote above that bodies change. Oh, you are so right – age happens to the fat and the thin and everyone who gets the privilege of living a long time. If you’re with someone who thinks you’re going to look like you do now for the rest of your life, they’re in for a rude shock.

  66. Wow, then I guess all those guys I dated when I was between 220lbs and 280lbs were in the closet, or were psycho losers… including the two lawyers, the dentist, the wealthy philanthropist, the personal trainer, the masseuse, the chair of the department of an Ivy league university, and the concert violinist.

    And I guess I will go tell my Emmy-winning, platinum-album-selling, former rock star boyfriend that he is completely delusional because he thinks I am totally smoking hot at 280lbs. (All true, I swear!)

  67. It all reminds me of my least favorite episode of Taxi, a show I otherwise love, the one where the fat woman who had a blind date with Alex in an earlier episode lost a bunch of weight (something like 100 pounds) hoping that that would get Alex to be attracted to her, and he still wasn’t interested in her. I hate this episode for all the fat eating-machine stereotypes and cheap fat jokes in it (which, incidentally, were NOT in the episode where he had the blind date, which was actually pretty good). But there was one salient point, which is that Alex was turned off not so much by her body but by her self-loathing and desperate need for approval, which didn’t disappear along with the weight.

    That fits with my life. At one point I was a size 6 or 8, and men did not beat down my door. My body might have “passed the test,” but I’m pretty sure my please-please-love-me clingy desperation did not. Especially given that the kind of men I was attracted to did NOT want a weak, wimpy, whiny woman who hated herself, they were attracted to power and confidence. I thought being confident and powerful was a great idea. I just could not seem to master it myself, being so hungry for love I could not even really SEE the person in front of me except as a possible antidote to my hunger. I don’t even know if any of those guys I loved who did not love me back would have been good partners for me, or I for them. When it’s all about “am I good enough or not?”, you can’t even begin to evaluate that.

  68. Kate, you have no idea how much I needed this post! For almost half of my life (I’m 22), I’ve believed that guys don’t find me attractive because I’m fat. Since discovering FA, I’ve been slowly tearing down that wall of self-loathing. Right now, I’m really trying to work on putting myself out there on the dating market. I’m pretty outgoing with my friends, but put me with a guy I have a crush on (like this one guy in my Hebrew class), and I turn into a blubbering self-conscious mess.

    People (especially guys) who hate me or look down on me because of my fat are not worth my time. I wish I learned that lesson when I was in middle school.

  69. I have read disgusting, vile crap like what was in the post for years, and honestly thought it was true. I honestly believed that the only reason I couldn’t find a boyfriend, much less get any kind of positive male attention was because I was fat. I was in my early 20s then, and just believed the “most men perfer thin women” line because as I looked around, I was never getting any male attention. When I’d look at couples, it was only ever a thin woman with the man, never a fat woman with a man.

    But then I started working out in the public, and guess what? I was actually get hit on! Men were calling me cute, and asking me for my number! I couldn’t believe it! I kept thinking, “What is wrong with these men?! Men aren’t supposed to find me attractive! I’m not thin! Don’t ‘most men prefer thin women’? It’s impossible!” But I’m learning that it is not impossible for me to think that men might actually find me attractive.

    Reading those quotes took me back to my early 20s when I took those “Most men prefer thin women” comments to heart. It reminded me that all these years later, people are still spewing that kind of hate. But thanks to this site, I’m learning that people like that truly are shallow, and that what they’re spewing is NOT the truth. Not at all.

    I’m coming to terms with how beautiful I truly am, both inwardly and outwardly. Yeah, I wear glasses, my weight fluctuates anywhere between 205-215 pounds, and I’m 5’5″ but that does that mean I’m a hideous troll like I’m meant to believe I am thanks to society and the culture we live in? NO! It’s all a bunch of bullshit and I refuse to continue letting it control me like it did when I was younger. I’m learning to take a stand and not let society’s standards of physical beauty rule me anymore.

    Thank you, Kate, for such a wonderful, valuable place. I come here every day, and leave feeling better and better about myself as a whole.

  70. It wasn’t until years later that I looked back with a somewhat clearer eye and realized that I wasn’t dating not because of OMG TEH FATZ, but because of *me*. Because of my issues.


  71. I misread it too. I couldn’t work out what he was blithering about with the reference to Al.

    Also, this is an amazing post.

    I did have a boyfriend tell me to lose weight once, and being young and low in self-esteem I tried. When I get my time machine, the first stop will be late 1991 to tell him to fuck right off.

  72. Hi Kate –

    I also missed the “un” bit, then got clueless at the closeted comment. That guy is a wanker, I hope he gets a raging STD and his dick falls off.

    Brad Pitt is gross and Angelina Jolie looks like a fucking trout.

    I’ve never understood “types” either. My boyfriend is a tall skinny Dutchman who said his “type” was Annie Lennox or Jamie Lee Curtis (boyish but femme) yet he’s completely ga-ga over me……I’m 5’5″ with very dangerous curves. He was immediately attracted to my personality and found me intensely interesting which is exactly the same way I felt about him. He was “interesting.” I wanted to know more about him.

    I don’t have a “type” per se, but I do know there are some men I find so physically attractive that I am speechless (literally, speechless, I’m serious….I can’t form a sentence.) And yeah, they’re great looking but I sure as fuck couldn’t date them (cuz I can’t talk)…..think Jason Statham — he may be a total asshole, but his body is the cat’s meow. Still, I think it all boils down to personality and chemistry — “appearances” be damned.

  73. I misread it at first, too! I found it to be pretty confusing, until you pointed out the “un”.

    And, okay, seriously, if we were “programmed” to only be attracted to thin people, don’t you think that that programming would go back more than a few years? But, funny enough, (here’s the anthropologist in me), when I take a look at evidence of human male to female attraction in even recent (evolutionarily speaking) history, I can see quite clearly that is not that case.

    Plus, as you said, the fat people are breeding – how’s that happening, then?

    This is kind of unrelated (though it still has to do with fat), but I remember reading some study when I was 13 or so that said children from homes with one fat parent and one thin one (ha? But thin people can’t love fat people!) had a 70% chance of winding up fat, and children from homes with two fat parents had a 90% chance of winding up fat – and they explained this as a social thing, the habits of a fat person are apparently more contagious (oh noes!) than that of a thin one, they said.

    And I totally bought it. I spent years freaking out and trying to do everything to avoid my parents fate (both are fat), because – 90%!!! What habits might they be teaching me?

    And then, when I was like 17 or so, in a college biology class we reviewed Punnett squares before covering some topic, and I remember looking at the results of the Punnetts squares – which I had done a million times before – and something suddenly hitting me.

    75% of my parents children, according to Punnett squares (which are a simplified version of genetics, and not really quite how it works, and inaccurate, but are good for generic predictions) would have brown eyes – both of my parents being brown eyed with one blue eyed parent. I’m their one and only blue eyed kid, the part of the 25% minority. This is one possible result of the phenotype of two Brown eyed parents. 75%. The two other possible (over simplified) results are both 100%, assuming that only one or neither is carrying the recessive “blue eyed” gene.

    Which means, in a perfectly even simplified world – all groups of parents with two brown eyes, knowing phenotype, but not genotype, would have a 91.6% chance of having a Brown eyed kid.

    Two parents of the same phenotype (dominant gene based) – 91.6%.

    But then if you play the same game assuming one parent has blue eyes and the other brown – if the brown eyed parent is carrying the recessive gene, the chance of brown eyes is 25%, but if the brown eyed parent is not, than the chance of brown eyes becomes 100%. Those are the only two possibilities, meaning that the overall chance of one brown eyed parent and one blue eyed parent having a brown eyed kid – if you don’t know their genotype, become 75%.

    Two parents of varying phenotype (one dominant gene based, the other recessive) – 75%

    In a perfect “science” world where all genotypes are evenly distributed and mutations and other more fuzzy genetics never come into play, the genetics come out


    And this study found results of


    Which is such a close, perfect match that it almost shouldn’t exist in the real world. The real world is never that cleanly sciencey. The real world is messy with all sorts of confusing factors.

    And I remember being boggled that they had done this study and this team of scientists had totally failed to notice that this matched so incredibly precisely to the most simplified version of genetics.

    And I remember, though I’d worked with Punnett squares a bazillion times before, being totally blown away.

    Granted, it was another year or so before I finally gave up any dream of ever losing weight. And even then, heck even now, I still have issues. But still.

    I don’t know why I mentioned that in this thread. It’s just been on my mind recently, I guess. I wish I could go back and find that study – if only to burn it for it’s terrible analysis of the data which had me freaking out during most of my adolescence that one false move was going to keep me from be attractive and loved forever!

    Which is bull anyway – at my heaviest I had better luck with love than any other time in my life. Mostly because I wasn’t freaking out about my weight.

  74. People who bring evolution into this sort of thing piss me off to, because they almost invariably get it so wrong that you can’t even correct them; you’d have to start explaining the entire field from scratch in order to address how wrong most people get it, and who has that sort of time?

    Even if one imagined that their understanding of modern evolution theory (in general, and evolutionary psychology in specific) is impeccable, they tend to commit a mistake far more fundamental than the scientific theories themselves, which is to confuse descriptions of how and why things are (theories, models, et cetera) with ideas about how things should be (philosophy, morality, et cetera). The difference is non-trivial! Many times, arguments from evolution are of the same form as, “E=MC^2, therefore the prostitution issue should be solved by….”

    Not so fast, Skippy McFallacy! That doesn’t quite follow, baring some other, very interesting axioms you’ve left unstated. The argument isn’t even true or false; it’s just stupid. The fact is, no physical theory, like evolutionary psychology, ever says anything about what you should do, all by itself; you need to pair it with some moral axioms first, which is itself a problem since the sort of people who cite theories they don’t understand also tend to assume their moral axioms just go without saying.

    Anyway, evolutionary psychology is a lot more interesting and well-founded than most people ever hear about, since anyone who doesn’t pursue scientific literature on a regular basis usually only ever hears about it from people saying, “The different costs of reproduction between male and female hominids means that women should get in the kitchen and make me some pie,” and mainstream news-sources that are utterly fixated on the results from that field which refer to sex, and which always give exaggerated, simplified, and premature declarations of what any given bit of research actually means.

    The only solid results from sociobiology as it relates to attractiveness I’m aware of all involve signs of disease, which are always considered unattractive, across all cultures and times. I don’t mean “fat is a disease lol” type disease, but sores, jaudice, flu-like symptoms, all that sort of thing. Nobody wants to screw people with the plague, period, except perhaps the occasional extreme outlier. At the other end, appreciation of a clear completion is also nearly universal. Traits more nuanced than that start to take noise from individual variation and can only be predicted in the aggregate.

  75. Hallie, I’m a former copyeditor too! Which makes the whole thing even stranger.

    Brad Pitt is gross and Angelina Jolie looks like a fucking trout.

    Okay, so I know the point of this kind of comment is to say “not even these icons of beauty are attractive to everybody,” but we don’t do looks-bashing here. Period.

  76. I also read that sentence as “unbelievably attractive”. I had to re-read it twice before I read it the right way. And then I spent the next two hours reading all the other posts… Congrats, Kate! This is really an amazing post. I’m going to write something about all this for my blog (in Portuguese, http://www.escrevalolaescreva.blogspot.com). I’m still trying to understand why so many men hate women. Did their mothers not treat them well? Did too many women dump them? Did they get married to women who, heaven forbid, now boss them around? Why all this hatred against a rape victim who is bold enough to tell her story? That’s one of the reasons I hate hearing women calling each other b****, h*, s***, etc, even if it’s a joke. There’s already way too much hatred directed against us for us to be joking about such things. I also flinch when hearing gays, blacks, and any other minority offending women. Minorities should be united against every single form of prejudice.

  77. Tal wrote: “There are good men all around you (and good women, too, if that’s what trips your triggers.) You’re just not seeing them because YOU have ingrained biases, too. You’re endlessly pursuing “hot” jerks because that’s what you’ve been brainwashed to find attractive.”

    This was me in a nutshell through most of college. This continues to be some of my closest friends, fat and thin, male and female, gay and straight to this day. It is unbelievably uneasy ;) to undo the amount of programming that we’ve all gone through in our formative years. It drives me CRAZY when the same friends who suggested that I was “too good” for my husband come back and cry that they are so lonely and can’t find anyone good to date.

    I think it was George Carlin who said “If your needs aren’t being met, DROP SOME OF YOUR FUCKING NEEDS.”

  78. Okay, so I know the point of this kind of comment is to say “not even these icons of beauty are attractive to everybody,” but we don’t do looks-bashing here. Period.

    Well, KH did say she thought Brad Pitt was weaselly looking, so there is some precedent there.

  79. Long memory, Meowser! But still: the point has been made. Not even Brad Pitt is universally attractive. Now let’s stop calling people “gross,” because doing so is, well, gross.

  80. Whoo-HOO! Excellent post, Kate!

    It always kills me, those douchenozzles who get all, “You fat women need to lose weight before I would even consider finding you attractive, blah blah blah.”

    Oh, right. Because my greatest fucking goal in life is to be found desirable by a knuckle-dragging ass-cheese who thinks he’s entitled to fuck a parade of “perfect”-looking women he can show off to his friends.

    Yeah, that and becoming super-bestest friends with MeMe! Roth are at the top of my Bucket List. You know it. snort!

  81. “Knuckle-dragging ass cheese”! Woo hoo!

    Now if you REALLY want to engorge the lowslung forehead veins of the KDAC, suggest to them that they shouldn’t flatter themselves by thinking YOU would actually want THEM. The only thing that would infuriate them more than being “required” to fuck us is us saying, “ew, no.”

  82. “Knuckle-dragging ass cheese”

    I thought we weren’t “name calling” anymore because it’s gross!

  83. Yep, I also read “unbelievably attractive”..cause like, duh.

    Dudes, who even came up with the bullshit idea that only fat people date fat people? (Although, I see a lot of darling fat couples like me and my bf..and that makes me smile). Anybody who’s not a myopic douchebag will see that that is not always the case. Then there are the geniuses who think if there ever is by some freak occurrence of nature, a fat/skinny couple, NATURALLY it will be fat guy/skinny girl (cause the only contact they get with humanity is watching it on the telly, perhaps?) In most fat/skinny couples I have seen and known, the girl is fat and the GUY is skinny. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember ever seeing it the other way around. I know it happens, but I just haven’t run across it yet.

    How about this idea…PEOPLE DATE PEOPLE. Yeah.

    Also, Brad Pitt seems like a lovely dude…but, he’s just so not my type. Sorry Mr. Pitt.

    My celebrity “to do” list includes: Penn Jillette, Billy Corgan, Danny Elfman, Stephen Malkmus from Pavement, John Flansburgh from They Might Be Giants…and that guy who played Angel on Buffy.

    Yeah. I’m confused, too. :D

  84. I misread it, too. xD Then I got to the last line and had a “buh?” moment.

    I really dig this post, Kate. It’s pure brilliance, and has come at a really good time for me as I’m in the middle of a bit of a self-esteem crisis.

    The science thing. . .Drives me insane. Not only is most of what these people say utter drivel, but these ideas are primarily based on a handful of studies carried about by people *without* the proper scientific background, hence why their studies were splashed all over newspapers and books, and not picked up by peer reviewed journals.

    I’m not saying that no scientist has ever looked into the issue of what we *might* be wired to find attractive, but no scientist worth his/her salt is going to proclaim that modern man is definitively wired to appreciate X without damn good evidence, and since we haven’t yet determined this evidence, it’s safe to dismiss these so-called “facts” (that are often hugely twisted from the original theories anyway).

    A great example: men who claim they are “genetically wired” to rape, since they have a biological imperative to “spread their seed at all costs”.

    Uhm, no. Asshole.

    I’ve always felt like I have to meet a set standard of attractiveness, and every time I found out as a teenager that someone didn’t find me attractive, it would hurt so much and reaffirm my belief that I was worth less than the people around me. My friends all had constant streams of fellas, and I just never did. In hindsight, it’s because I wasn’t attracted to any of them and was just putting on the moves because I felt I should. I’m sure they picked up on that. And when someone was genuinely interested in me as a person and not the front I put on? I often didn’t find out until it was too late because I was so oblivious.

    I’ve always rationally known that attractiveness is purely subjective. When my friends were wetting themselves in excitement over boy bands, Tom Cruise, and young Brad Pitt, I was writing soppy fan letters to Kevin Spacey and other men old enough to be my father. I STILL cannot resist older men, and find myself growing increasingly attracted to men up to 30 years my elder.

    Of course, that said, my fella is only 5 years older than me. And, likewise, even though I SWORE that I’d never date a man with chest hair, facial hair, or long hair. . hmm, guess who I have ended up with? Not just a guy with hair but with great honking side burns and gorgeous curls down to his waist. And I love him, and I love how he looks, and wouldn’t change a thing.

    Why don’t I apply the same standard/realisation to myself? Well, that’s the tricky bit, isn’t it?

    I think a lot of us have that cognitive dissonance. I’m often shocked by how people describe me because it’s almost always positive and they use adjectives I’d love to apply to myself. I obviously come across as very different to how I personally view myself.

  85. Really, all this “science” stuff cracks me up. You can twist facts around to mean whatever you want them to. You could also say that men go for women with meat on their bones because they look like they’d last through the winter, not to mention survive the challenges of childbirth.

    NEWSFALSH, TARD MUNCH: in order to nourish a healthy baby, a woman’s got to have some flesh. That’s why they call ’em birthing hips. From a childbearning standpoint, the skinny= healthy argument doesn’t hold water. Pregancy is dangerous for both the mother and the baby when the woman is too thin. Thin isn’t an evolutionary preference, it is a learned one that has developed rather recently in human history.

  86. For the record, I am firmly in the “Huh?” column when it comes to Prince. Talent? Sure. Chutzpah? Hells yeah. Crazy? Ding! But flip my switch? Non. I am happy to leave lusting after Prince to those who do it better than me.

    Great post, too. I’ve always maintained that attraction is totally subjective and doesn’t fit in a nice, simple box. It’s unpredictable and messy and complicated – kinda like getting involved with another person gets.

    I also think attraction can be ugely affected by what kinds of relationships are being pursued. As a commitment-phobic serial monogamist, I tend to go for a certain physical type….’cause I’m looking to connect physically and not necessarily on other levels. When I’ve gotten emotionally involved, it’s almost always been for reasons other than hotness.

  87. I read an article by an Advice Columnist I like to read (The Advice Goddess) this week. IT was along a similar vein. :-( Thank you for this post, I needed it.

    You’re ugly. You’re disgusting. You’re sloppy. You’re lazy. You’re embarrassing to be seen with. You’re out of control. You have no self-discipline. You will never be loved unless you lose weight.

    (P.S. I’m only telling you this because I’m concerned about your health.)

    I never thought anyone would be able to make me laugh out loud at this, but you did Kate. Can I have a miniature clone of you and to carry around in my pocket?

  88. I’m with you on the looks-bashing, sweetmachine. Plenty of other places in the world for people to do that, if they must.
    Internet troll bashing, though, is a very good idea.

    Is the opposite of “unbelievably unattractive” then “believably attractive?” Huh?
    I think I’m going to have to steer clear of the word “unbelievable” for a while now.

  89. If evolution and not society has conditioned what is considered attractive, why do standards of attractiveness shift over time (compare, for example, today’s ideal with the Victorian one) and across cultures? If attractiveness is not subjective, why does fetish porn exist, including that designed for men who like very fat women? The evidence is simply against attraction being measurable by objective, permanently fixed criteria.

  90. Also, the ultra-skinny body type now in vogue, you’d think, would run contrary to evolutionary needs, seeing as a certain amount of body fat is associated with fertility.

  91. This rocks.

    I got over a lot of my self-dislike when I married Bear. Bear is not thin. He is, um, a bear-type. And he loved every lush curve of my body, and still does.

    But the thing that really exploded it….I was pregnant, at the awkward stage where nothing fits, and thanks to three months of hyperemesis, feeling like shit. And at that point had a guy come over, sit on my couch and talk with me for three hours, and he fell in love with me. It’s been ten years, he’s still in my life. (Polyamory, people.) Given that I feel like the biggest cow on earth when pregnant, if I’m that attractive still? Whoa. Maybe I should turn down the fabulousness just a tad so that I don’t cause accidents. (giggle)

  92. I became a cynic about evolutionary psychology for the most part when I realized that virtually *any* human behavior can be seen to be beneficial to the preservation of the race or one’s own genes in some way or another: war or peace, fidelity or cheating, stealing or sharing, attraction to fat people or slender-average people, having your own kids or helping to raise relatives’ kids, slavery or egalitarianism, indulgence or self-control, being a nerd or being a jock, etc. And virtually *any* human behavior, if done to excess or in the wrong situation, can work against the well-being of your gene pool.

    So, pretty much every behavior is “justified by evolution.” You could even say that if it were not, we wouldn’t do it! (It’s similar to the Anthropic Principle in cosmology: “if the universe weren’t the way it is, we wouldn’t be here.”) There is pretty much no explanatory power for why people do what they do, nonetheless what people should do, in evolutionary psychology. And any suggestion of what evolution would advise us to do can be refuted with, “Well, we also evolved these big brains to allow us to override or temporarily control certain behavioral paths when they are not called for.”

  93. “Not so fast, Skippy McFallacy!”

    HEE hee hee.

    Also, someone way up the thread used the phrase “sausage army,” and I think Sausage Army should be the opening act for Piggy Moo. Anybody with me?

  94. I thought we weren’t “name calling” anymore because it’s gross!

    I’m assuming this is a joke, because you do actually understand the difference between saying that someone’s ideas about women are cavemannish and saying that someone looks like a trout. If not, I recommend this Shakespeare’s Sister post on the “Ann Coulter looks like a man” phenomenon for a quick overview.

    In other news, I’m totally delighted by all the science nerdery today.

  95. oscah: If evolution and not society has conditioned what is considered attractive, why do standards of attractiveness shift over time (compare, for example, today’s ideal with the Victorian one) and across cultures?

    It’s not an either/or situation. For instance, weight preference varies greatly, as I’m sure you know. However, an analysis of beauty icons through time and of modern men from around the world reveals a common factor: a 0.7 waist-hip circumference ratio in women is considered most attractive by men, and incidentally (or perhaps, because of the fact that) this particular ratio correlates strongly with general health and fertility regardless of weight. This also applies equally to men, except the ratio for them is 0.9.

    If attractiveness is not subjective, why does fetish porn exist, including that designed for men who like very fat women?

    If someone tells you that results from sociobiology apply to all individuals, and then claims they know what they’re talking about, they’re lying. Outliers are always to be expected. Now, one might reasonably assume that there are certainly a large number of people with fetishes, and wonder how they could all be considered outliers, but remember that there are 6.7 x 10^8 people in the world today. That is a truly large number, and there is an important law about truly large numbers.

    fillyjonk: I’m assuming this is a joke, because you do actually understand the difference between saying that someone’s ideas about women are cavemannish and saying that someone looks like a trout.

    Excuse me?

  96. i too read it as “attractive” instead of unattractive the first time and only noticed the un when you pointed it out and i went back.

    go fuck yourself is right on.

    “The fact is, I am “an unbelievably unattractive woman”–and also an unbelievably attractive woman, a kinda meh woman, a kinda cute woman, and everything else on the spectrum between “eww” and “ooh.” It all depends on who’s looking–and further depends on whether they’ve actually talked to me, whether they dig mouthy broads or dog people or spacey writers, whether I remind them of their mothers, whatever.”

    right on sister.

  97. Yeah, when I read Alice’s comment I got really angry. Because I tried to click on her name so I could read her blog, and there was no blog to click through to.

    Come to think of it, Time-Machine’s comments frequently make me angry for the same reason. Come on, guys, the signal-to-noise ratio needs you!

  98. Kate, AWESOME post.

    Being heavy-set I realize how much it filters the guys who are interested in dating. I get guys who don’t follow the herd mentality of attractiveness. Guys who look at me and see me for who I am, a healthy, active, outdoorsy, smarty-pants science nerd who is comfortable in her own skin. (It took A LONG time to get to that point, lemmie tell you)

    This is going to sound inredibly narcissistic, but if a guy lets me know he finds me attractive, he becomes so much more attractive to me. Partially because it tells me that they don’t give a sh*t about what other people/media/society may think of their romantic choices. That quality in a person really catches my eye!

    Oh and don’t get me started on the Science and Evolution to explain personal biases bullsh*t. Those statements are the opposite of science. It’s what us evolutionary biologists call a just-so story.

    Making up an explanation for some observed phenomenon is called a hypothesis, and that is only if it is a reasonable and TESTABLE explanation, based on real observation, and not pulling-it-out-yer-ass personal opinion (ie. “All guys find fat chicks unattractive” is not an example of good observational skills) Accepting that explanation as FACT isn’t science, that is called “making sh*t up” and will get you a big old F in my bio 101 class.

    If attraction is really all about finding the woman to bear your young, and has nothing to do with culture, why is there so much difference between cultures? If it was sooooo evolutionarily viable to have a thin mate, it would be fixed in the population, but it’s not. You could logically argue the opposite, that men are attracted to fat women because they are more likely to be fertile…or can better breastfeed their kids..or are better at finding food. (none of which are true of course, I am NOT suggesting that fat women are better)

    Don’t even get me started on the thin equals fit fallacy. Anyways, great post.

  99. My first post: I meant “clear complexion,” not completion.

    Time-Machine: Alice, I totally love everything you wrote. Seriously.

    fillyjonk: Yeah, when I read Alice’s comment I got really angry. Because I tried to click on her name so I could read her blog, and there was no blog to click through to.

    Thanks! I was beginning to feel unwelcome here. I don’t think I’ll be starting a blog, though. I very rarely get the spontaneous urge to write something on the Internet, so what I do write is always in response to something. I’ll keep to comments.

  100. Oh yeah, Liss’s “who cares about Coulter’s looks” post. An all-time classic. These words deserve re-enshrinement here:

    Ann Coulter is the high priestess of screeching hyperbole, whose natural habitat is the nearest studio chair on a right-wing cable hatefest, from whence she spews her bile-rich nuggets of insane vitriol like a mama bird projectile vomiting chunks of hate fuel to nourish her repellent babies, as they sit, gape-mouthed and wanting, waiting for their vile supper on couches in front of tellies across the nation so they may ever stay plump with outrage. And not only is she a monstrous font of diarrheic vitriol who disgorges a continual torrent of loathsome rhetoric to poison the public discourse; the frequency with which she manages to emit accurate (and original) assertions is approximate to photographic evidence of unicorns. She is as devoid of facts as she is of kindness and compassion. I’ve heard more astute political observations from a pile of day-old puke—and it didn’t have to plagiarize, either.

    And you expect me to care about her oversized forehead? Seriously?

  101. Strange. One of my comments has become mysteriously jammed in “Awaiting moderation” mode. Is it the hyperlinks?

  102. This is all bullshit. I have friends who are skinny and getting skinnier, who are obsessed with celebrities and their diets, who have followed The Cheese Cube Diet from The Devil Wears Prada, and they have never had a boyfriend. They have fucked around, but they have never had a stable relationship. And they feel like shit and feel like nobody loves them because they’re not thin enough nor pretty enough, so they keep starving themselves and being horrible bitches. I’m only friends with them because I love them to bits since High School, and they are like the sisters I never had.
    I have another friend who is extremely skinny, but that’s metabolical. Whenever we go to her house, there are like, food orgies. She has sweets everywhere, her whole family is stick-thin and whenever they want something to eat, they have it. Be it junk or healthy food, they are faithful followers of Intuitive Eating. They are genetically thin, but if they weren’t they would still be IE, and no one in the house has body-image nor self-esteem issues. She is dating a horrible, superjealous bloke who is even jealous of her brother and father and female friends, but I want to believe it’s just a phase. She’s secretly in love with this adorable Oriental kid she met during summer courses. He is not an Adonis but he’s extremely cute and writes her songs. One of her ex-s is a really good friend of mine too and he’s got a lovely sense of humour, loves and respects all women. But well, it’s all just a phase and I want to think she will find someone special and right for her. Oh, and she is fascinated by big animals: elephants, whales, etc. Not fatphobic at all, she finds all of her friends beautiful as we are.
    I am on the fat side. One of those dreadful fat-girls-with-no-breasts that “shouldn’t even exist”. Used to hate myself through teenhood and never had a boyfriend. When I was 18, I suddenly stopped because I was fed up with hating myself. Started loving myself, pampering myself more and giving myself more credit for the things I did and deserved. When I was 18, ironically, I met a wonderful boy. We started dating, and we’ve been together for almost 4 years. He has started to plan things for our wedding (something many “hot-chick”‘s boyfriends NEVER EVER bother doing) and future life together, and so have I. He workships me like no one else does. We make love with the lights on, and I know for a fact that he is sexually attracted to my sould and *egads* my fat-body-with-no-boobs. He likes rubbing my tummy, he finds Fergie to be scary and those Maxim girls to be fake. But he likes Kylie because she’s very genuine and almost a household staple to him (he’s English and grew up watching Neighbours), not because she’s “super hot”. To the question “Which celebrity would you dump me for?”, his answer is similar to that of fillyjonk’s boyfriend. So is mine, even with Nigella Lawson being a kitchen crush of mine.
    I don’t know if any other blokes fancy me, and seriously I don’t really care. I only have eyes for my boyfriend. I have ladyfriends who have told me they would be hopelessly in love with me if they were lesbians, but that’s it.

    And, I almost forgot to mention, he’s skinny. Yes, as skinny as those new superskinny male models they wrote a while ago on NYT. He doesn’t starve himself either, and he also follows a “regime” of IE like my skinny ladyfriend. He sometimes eats more than I do, because he burns energy like a mofo. He knows what his body wants.

    Do you notice a pattern? Those who do not hate their bodies nor themselves, whether they are skinny or fat, are the ones with more luck in their relationships. The ones who get to choose, right or wrong, who they want to be with. If they love themselves and exude that confidence and self-love, people get it and fall in love with this attitude and, yes, this body. Beautiful people inside and outside, and not only malnourished ravens. If you are fat and your attitude sucks, nobody is going to want to date you. If you fall into the physical standards of the magazines and your attitude sucks, nobody is going to want to date you. If you are fat and with a lovely attitude, you’ll find at least one or two people knees over tits for you. If you happen to fall into the physical standards of the magazines and with a lovely attitude, you’ll find at least one or two people knees over tits for you.

    It’s not rocket science.

    And Kate, you are unbelievably attractive. Yes, you read it right. :)

  103. I swear, I missed the “un” too, I thought you considered it sexual harassment because of the end. And it made sense because I was just thinking earlier today that you’re really pretty. Swear. I’m not a man, but women have to look at what men find attractive so goddamn much that I think I can still say you fall within it for lots of people. Not to mention that there is of course no need to say that to you one way or the other and that guy is just trying to keep uppity women off the internet. It was your comment policy that inspired me to use nasty comments as proof of sexism instead of just deleting (which hasn’t happened on my current blog yet, in case anyone tries to look for some nasty comments and doesn’t find them). So basically, rock on.

  104. First of all – FUCK the asshole who left that comment! I think you look absolutely beautiful. And yes attractiveness is subjective…

    Just something I’m throwing out here but I have several overweight girlfriends and they are some of THE most beautiful women I know… first off all, I think they are physically blessed because I think they really are beautiful. But they are also incredibly self-confident.

    Fat or skinny – if someone is insecure they will have trouble finding someone attracted to that. Insecurity attracts insecurity. Just last week I met a man who seemed attractive but his insecurity turned me off.

    Just a thought and I’m sure you’ve touched on this before…new to your blog.

    Thanks for this fantastic post!

    I was 210 when I had my son and then lost 80 lbs after leaving my husband. One of the reasons – he wouldn’t touch me in my “larger” state. A-hole.

  105. I’m so far down in the comments that I don’t know if anyone will see this but I have to say: being fat did NOT limit my dating pool. Not being willing to sleep with assholes limited my dating pool. Not having a lot of self-confidence for a very long time limited my dating pool.

    The former was okay while the latter took a while to get over.

  106. Alice, yeah, lots of hyperlinks will sometimes send a comment to moderation; I’ve approved it now.



    I’m so far down in the comments that I don’t know if anyone will see this

    TR, you should know our readers better. ;)

  107. It’s funny because when I saw your picture in which you described yourself as post-exercise bedraggled I remember thinking I wish I looked like that NOT bedraggled, let alone post exercise when I look like something my dog pulled out of the bushes after a rainshower. Al has totally good taste in women–gorgeous but also wildly talented which should tell you something about yourself. Frances MacDormand is the awesome.

    And I’m glad that I read down to The Rotund’s comments cuz–completely true.

  108. I saw it as attractive as well. Must be because I beleive it :)

    This post gave me an actual physical reaction as someone who was sexually assualted at size 24. Lucky to get raped??? At the time there was someone who insinutated that to me and I carried that for a while.

    I also met my husband when I was the same size and he left his size 8 girlfriend for me!! Subjective for fucking sure.

    Also, my 10 year crush on Phillip Seymour Hoffman sees no end and him and my husband couldn’t be more different.

  109. just had to say even if no one reads it– I *also* read unbelievably ATTRACTIVE and had to re-read twice AFTER getting to the part where y’all read it like that too . Til then I was kinda confused.

    And reading about how people partner with others who find them physically repulsive breaks my heart. There is a word for someone who treats you ok, whose company you enjoy, who is not attracted to you, to whom you may or may not be attracted. FRIEND.

  110. Wow!! it’s amazing how my one comment has created this blizzard of self-help, pro-fat bullshit. What a bunch of weak-willed, low-self esteem having, neurotic, desperate, self-delusional half-wits. I love how all of your boyfriends, the few that have them, are described by you as being fat too. I guess that’s the best you can do, huh?
    Don’t try selling me your line of bullshit about that’s the kind of guy you happen to be attracted to. Nope, not gonna buy it. That’s the kind of guy who’s desperate enough to stick his limp dick into your fat ass. Poor guy. When he’s pumping away at you do you think he’s thinking about a fat, dumpy, woman in her late thirties with cottage cheese thighs? No. He’s thinking about the kind of girls he could never have. Girls who wouldn’t give him the time of day.

  111. You know, I’d ban this guy, but there’s effectively nothing I could say about him that would make him look worse than just letting him continue to talk.

  112. The weird thing is that I read this post and think “that all sounds completely reasonable.” But I still believe pretty much all of the awful things that you’ve pointed out.

    It sounds stupid, but I believe that any man who finds me physically attractive has something wrong with him. And that pretty much my only hope is to be smart/funny/kind enough to make up for that and thereby find a non-broken man who will just deal with the rest.

    And I do often wonder if my options will end up being “someone I don’t find attractive but who’s willing to take me” and “nobody at all.”

  113. Awesome thread and totally awesome post.

    I’m a big fan and mostly a lurker, so I hope I’m not overstepping here, but. . . it makes me a little uneasy to read a bunch of posts that say (loosely paraphrasing) “Once you’re confident, and know what you’re looking for, you’ll find someone” or “People who haven’t found someone have internalized superficial standards and go for jerks.” I understand the sentiment, but it’s easy to read that and think “hmmm, so I’m working on this self-acceptence, thing, but obviously, not enough, otherwise I wouldn’t be single.”

    I know that’s not how it was intended, but it bears repeating: confidence *is* sexy, and people will be attracted to you if you project it, but finding the right person is still a big suck for lots of folks. I know that was the whole point of the Valentine’s post, which says it better, but it bears repeating.

    Oh, and Kate, if I didn’t already think that you were in my brain half the time, the fact that you’re also crushing on Phillip Seymour Hoffman would do it. Even when he was playing a drug addicted douchebag in “Before the Devil” he was still teh hawt.

  114. This is so brilliant. I totally read that comment as ‘unbelieveably attractive’, too.

    My boyfriend is quite thin, not skinny really, but lean and yet he still finds my fat self attractive.

    Though, to be honest, I’ve almost never had anyone I’ve found attractive (other that said bf) profess any interest in me. But today a woman who I found really attractive and seemed utterly lovely just came up to me when my group had vaguely been talking to her group for a while and said she found me really attractive, any chance I’m bi(yes)/poly(no). I was utterly gobsmacked, to be honest, because that really is just not what happens to me, except by creepy men 30 years older than me who don’t speak good english. I’ve been lucky to general be confident that I’m not too bad, but this was still very shocking to me (considering the place we were, I think lots of people expect others to be bi/poly, so that part wasn’t so much a shocker).

    It drives me mad the way so many people don’t seem to get that attraction is all subjective. In fact, personailties a huge thing for me anyway, I’ve fancied people of many different body types.

    And there was another guy who I think was flirting with me last weekend, but when he found out I’m taken he moved on to my sister…

  115. I like when assholes don’t know how to stop. Hey Rick, did you change your screen name and e-mail address to impart such “wisdom” upon us?

  116. Come to think of it, Time-Machine’s comments frequently make me angry for the same reason. Come on, guys, the signal-to-noise ratio needs you!

    I have a livejournal, but you wouldn’t find that very interesting. The whole journal is basically “New episodes of Doctor Who, yay! And I ate a yummy sandwich today! And being 19 jobless, and not in college sucks. Are we out of milk? I hope not.”

    Maybe I should start a more project oriented journal of some sort.

    …see, I say that, and then wonder if I could stay focused at all.

  117. When he’s pumping away at you do you think he’s thinking about a fat, dumpy, woman in her late thirties with cottage cheese thighs? No. He’s thinking about the kind of girls he could never have.

    Citation needed.

  118. He’s thinking about the kind of girls he could never have. Girls who wouldn’t give him the time of day.

    So I guess for you that’d be anyone.

  119. Anyway, I know one thing all our partners probably have in common.

    They are incredibly fucking smart and their very high sense of self in not dependent on what anyone else thinks.

  120. I’m a big fan and mostly a lurker, so I hope I’m not overstepping here, but. . . it makes me a little uneasy to read a bunch of posts that say (loosely paraphrasing) “Once you’re confident, and know what you’re looking for, you’ll find someone” or “People who haven’t found someone have internalized superficial standards and go for jerks.” I understand the sentiment, but it’s easy to read that and think “hmmm, so I’m working on this self-acceptence, thing, but obviously, not enough, otherwise I wouldn’t be single.”

    If it makes you feel any better, my self-esteem is as slippery as a banana peel coated with Crisco on a frozen pond, and I managed to meet someone. For me, “self-acceptance” has not been anywhere near as important to being able to build a relationship as simply learning how not to “act out” (i.e. inflict my internal melodrama on my partner). Total self-acceptance? Gonna take a while, I’m afraid.

  121. When he’s pumping away at you do you think he’s thinking about a fat, dumpy, woman in her late thirties with cottage cheese thighs

    Mmmm…cottage cheese.

  122. So, once it’s been proved to you numerous times that you just get made fun of and banned, it’s clearly a definition-of-insanity thing. No question there. The thing I’m wondering is, what is he actually expecting? That this time we’ll agree with him? That this time we’ll cry? Or that this time we’ll get all wet and want to go out with him?

    Newsflash: You just get made fun of and banned.

  123. When I was in middle school, a boy told me, “You’re so ugly no one would ever rape you.” To this day, even though I know that rape has nothing to do with attraction, whenever I hear about a non-stereotypically “attractive” woman being raped, part of me wonders if she’s lying.

    Wow. Very hard to read. Brave to type.

    As a survivor, I can assure you, we come in all shapes and sizes.

  124. Thanks, Meowser! That totally makes sense. This definately falls under the “fantasy of when I have my shit together.” I somehow really thought that people who had it together never fell for the wrong person, or the right person at the wrong time. Whereas of course you still do, you just have a little more perspective, and maybe even some fun, along the way.

  125. They just can’t accept that thin as sexy is a modern trend. If we are programmed, then why don’t ALL cultures in the world have universal measures of beauty? I rest my case.

    Evolution gives you a guideline. It doesn’t tell you how you determine it. Jackasses.

  126. Rick needs to stop deluding himself. He has such a hard on for fat chicks, that’s why he trolls all the blogs. His hate is really lust. It happens to them sooner or later. They start to crave fat rolls and baby-flavored donuts.

  127. …And with this post, I de-lurk. :)

    Looking back at my relationships, it’s mostly short-ish, heavier women with blue eyes and glasses. But that’s not the only type of person I go for. I’m not particularly attached to any of those physical traits, not even the gender. I consider myself “apathetically bisexual”: I don’t often mind men attractive, and I’ve never really pursued a relationship with a man, but I can’t see myself turning someone down who I was really into because “GASP! You have a penis!”

    My fiancee definitely falls into my “type,” but since we met online, I was attracted to her personality way before I knew what she looked like. And she was attracted to me the same way.

    And heh, I don’t think my fiancee knew she’d be into female-to-male transsexuals before she met me, but now she has a raging crush on Lucas Silveira from The Cliks. :P

  128. My eureka!-I’m-not-an-unlovable-cow moment actually came at the hands of a group of women (and everyone in this story is straight). I spent my secondary-school years as a fat nerd in a small, insular prep school, so you can imagine how great my self-esteem was when I went to college. There, I immediately found a theater group that ate up all my free time. About a month into that first semester, I came back to my dorm at 4 in the morning and passed a group of vivacious, conventionally-pretty women whom I knew somewhat in that way that you get to know everyone on your floor even if you never hang out.

    Them: OMG, where have you been all night?!
    Me: Building sets. You couldn’t tell by the sawdust?
    Them: *disappointed noises*
    Me: Where did you think I was?
    Them: Having sex!
    Me: *boggles*

    I honestly thought they were making fun of me. But no, it was immediately clear that they were *jealous* because they assumed I’d already found fun companionship. And it never occurred to them that I couldn’t, fat and all.

    Looking back, I owe those girls a lot, though I have no idea what happened to them after freshman year. I hope they’re leading happy lives.

  129. Johnny B., meet Colin.

    Colin, meet Johnny B.

    I don’t mean to be all “ooh, you guys are both trans and eating disordered, you should be friends!” — but when two people’s blogs are deep and thoughtful on the same underrepresented issues, I generally think they should be reading one another.

  130. I’m just going to blame television. How often do you see a fat woman on TV who is in a normal, happy, loving relationship? Like, never.

    Sookie St. James! I always liked her. I honestly can’t remember her weight ever ever being a Very Special Episode storyline, or even mentioned. She wasn’t the main character, but she was never treated as a joke or a pity-friend. She had boyfriends — one of her exes was a hot musician — and she got married and lived happily ever after.

    Alright, but on to real people. How? How do you decide that you’re fabulous just the way you are? Because I gotta tell you, I’m having major issues with this. I’m trying to be all “Beauty comes in every shape and size!” etc., but it’s just…really…really…REALLY hard to apply that to myself, even though I can see it’s true for other people. I know dieting doesn’t do anything for me. Last week, I finally gave up my New Year’s Diet. I ate 1400 calories a day since January 4 and wrote down every bite — and I followed the rules to a T. After all was said and done, I gained 3 lbs. Tall fat people make up both sides of family, so I know that at best I’m fighting a losing battle here, wishing futilely that I was smaller and I know I just need to give it all up and be okay with myself. But honestly, if someone would give me a magic pill and say, “Take this. You’ll be thin,” I’d do it. If there was gene therapy that would “fix” it, I’d try it. And I don’t know how to deal with those two parts of me — the part that thinks being a healthy happy fat person really is possible and is really a-okay and the part that desperately doesn’t want to be fat, even if that means I’m an unhappy unhealthy thin person.

    I’ve only had 2 guys ever actually say they were attracted to me, one which I quickly dismissed because yeah right, we both know you’re just being a jerk since you’re so way out of my league, and the other that I kind of tried to date for a little bit, because he was cute and I was trying on the new “Don’t hate yourself for being fat!” philosophy, but it didn’t last long since there was this huge wall of insecurity I built up between us. Since, you know, there’s NO WAY he could have REALLY liked me, he was obviously up to no good.

    I know fat women who I do think are genuinely beautiful and they date awesome men who vary from stick-thin to very heavy, so I know it can be done. I know it isn’t impossible or even rare for a fat person to fall in love and be loved right back. I just think it’s impossible for me and a part of me knows that’s so beyond stupid but another part thinks, “Well, once you lose x-number-of-pounds, you’ll be more self-confident and self-confidence is attractive and you don’t have self-confidence because you’re fat so that’s why no one wants to date you and it’s totally this vicious cycle so…just lose 30 lbs and break it!”

    I’m so glad I found places like this on the Internet — the very first “light bulb” moment I had was when I saw Joy Nash’s “Fat Rant” on YouTube. I also bought The Fat Girl’s Guide To Life. But I don’t know how to be like that, how to just be okay with the fact that some people won’t like me and some people will and some people will love me and find me attractive and someone else’s preferences is not a moral failing on my part, how to apply the same logic that I apply to other fat people to myself.

  131. Ah yeah, the Beating Myself Up For Not Having High Enough Self-Esteem Game. I know it well.

    You don’t HAVE to “decide you’re fabulous the way you are” in order to have a good relationship. If that were what it took, almost no woman would ever have a partner, because in this society it’s almost impossible for any woman to think she’s “good enough” all the time, or even most of the time. Even thin women, for the most part, don’t find themselves particularly attractive or appealing, if you ask them. Shocking, but true. If you were to try to match up a random list of “statements about my body and attractiveness” against a random list of women of all sizes and shapes, you would not be able to tell whose statements the “officially fat” ones were. Honest girlscout. Yet most of these women manage to find partners. You know that. It applies just as much to the fatasses as to anyone else. We may have fewer people interested in us, but that also means we waste our time with fewer people who are unsuitable.

    You wanting to be 30 pounds thinner is not unlike me wanting to be neurologically typical, or have a full head of hair. I’ll never be NT and I probably will never have a full head of hair again. I know that. I want it anyway. Of course I want that. Of course you want to be thinner. How could we not, when the social programming from birth is that overwhelming? So in my own case, I don’t fight wanting to be NT and full-scalped. I know I’m going to feel that way and that’s that. I just kind of “watch the thought float by,” and say, “Oh, that again. Yeah, that comes up pretty much every day, doesn’t it?” Then I go about my business.

    But the main thing that helped me break the if-only-I-were-thin tape loop (and believe me, I had it for years) was getting good and pissed off about how fat women were treated in this world. Because it is outrageous. It’s unspeakable. It’s insane. It IS them. It’s not us. We did nothing to deserve it. I mean, shit, you ate 1400 calories for 3 months and GAINED 3 pounds? And you still feel like it’s YOUR fault even if you KNOW it’s anything but? That is some heavy horseshit they’re flinging at us. It makes me mad. Doesn’t it make you mad?

  132. When he’s pumping away at you do you think he’s thinking about a fat, dumpy, woman in her late thirties with cottage cheese thighs? No. He’s thinking about the kind of girls he could never have.

    I’m thinking you’ve spent an awful lot of time both reading this blog and imagining me having sex for someone who’s grossed out by fat chicks.

  133. ’m thinking you’ve spent an awful lot of time both reading this blog and imagining me having sex for someone who’s grossed out by fat chicks.


    Kate wins.

  134. signthelist, if you haven’t already read it, can I suggest reading Kate’s classic post The Fantasy Of Being Thin? I think it addresses a lot of the issues you bring up – issues I think we all have.

    Speaking only from my own experience, it’s not easy and it takes time because it’s an uphill fight against a cacophony of anti-being-ok nonsense continually spewed out by this society with the express purpose of making us feel we’re inadequate just the way we are. And it’s not always perfect and it’s not always sunshine and roses but the alternative – hating one’s self for the rest of one’s life – is unthinkable. At least to me.

  135. Signthelist, even when there are lightbulb moments, the road to discovering self-esteem is usually confusing, long, and filled with backsliding. Many of us have days when we wake up and wonder who the hell would ever want to know us. Many of us have days when we’re absolutely certain we’ll never say another intelligent thing worth listening to. Many of us still have days when we wake up and blame ourselves for not being thinner, making more money, having cleaner homes, not having won an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize in the same year, and the list goes ever on and on.

    The important thing is that we keep striving, keep letting the little lightbulbs come on, and keep reminding ourselves that perfect isn’t a reasonable goal. We keep on reminding ourselves – and each other – that every baby step on the road to loving ourselves is rewarding in itself.

    You’re here, and you’re listening to the message. That’s actually a pretty huge step in the right direction. The first step is usually the hardest.

    The most amazing thing is the day when you wake up and realize that feeling crappy about yourself has become a rare thing that doesn’t stop you looking for new ways to express yourself and meet your attainable goals. And that’s something you can acheive.

    Just take it one step at a time. Don’t expect the guilt and pain to go away overnight. Let it happen at the pace it happens to take. And remember we’re here to take your hand and help you find your way.

    Oh, and it might not hurt to take Meowser’s advice and get yourself good and pissed off. I find howling along with Melissa Etheridge quite theraputic on those days when I wake up feeling crappy about myself. It allows me to wad up all the anger and depression into a big, long-sustained note and send it down the freaking block. Then I can get on with things. YMMV, but it’s an option.

  136. Ah, Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

    I went to see “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” with a guy I had been involved with (but no longer at that point), who has a passing resemblance to Hoffman in some lights. After that opening sequence with Hoffman and Marisa Tomei’s characters, he mumbled something to me. The scene is very much “his style” and I was expecting some sort of appreciation for the hotness, but what he had to say is that it made him acutely aware that “no one” needs to see him naked. The “funny” thing is that Hoffman isn’t someone I would look at twice if I hadn’t found the guy sitting next to me, bagging on himself over the resemblance, terribly sexy. *sigh*

  137. “in this culture, more people are attracted to thin people than to fat people.”

    and that’s all that some of the people you quoted were saying. attraction is subjective, but it isn’t randomly distributed.

  138. I too misread it as saying ‘attractive’ instead of ‘unattractive’, and I had to reread it to figure out what you were talking about.

    Call me naive, but I was gobsmacked that someone would be that deliberately rude.

    I admit, I had a hard time realising that attractiveness was subjective. I’ve been called ‘the most beautiful girl in the world’, but one time a guy stared me in the face and said ‘my god, you’re ugly.’ But then I realised that it didn’t matter what other people thought of the way I looked – I felt like crap when I thought I was ugly, and I felt awesome when I thought I was attractive. So I choose to think I’m attractive.

  139. You know, attraction being subjective and all, there are of course people I find unattractive, but I would never tell them “hey, you’re ugly” or even “I think you’re not attractive!” Why the fuck would anyone?

    So, chances are, anyone who does say that is just doing the real-world equivalent of trolling – they want to put someone down, and they know unattractive is supposedly the worst thing you can say to a woman. Has nothing to do with looks and everything to do with the entitlement of assholes.

  140. What amuses me about the troll, and the post way way up this thread about being attracted to sixteen-year-old girls, is that when I was still in high school and walked to work after classes, I got wolf-whistles and ‘hey, hottie!’ and catcalls every day from guys driving past my walk route. Every. Day. I was anywhere between thirteen and sixteen. These were guys who, at a rough guess, wouldn’t seriously think of dating me, but like that troll up there, they sure as hell could think about fucking me.

    I’m beautiful in the conventionally-attractive blonde-hair-green-eyes-hourglass way. I’m 179 cm tall in bare feet, 96 kilos, curvy, and I’m fucking beautiful. I know this. Goddamn fuck, I know this. You know why? Because I can’t not know it.

    I get checked out every time I venture in public, from both men and women. Because I get wolf-whistles. Because if I’m feeling particularly sparkly and decide to wear clothing that actually flattered me, they stare at me. (A lot. It could be that I talk with my hands, both literally and figuratively [I’m deaf and use quasi-sign language when words don’t work well enough], but I’m not betting on it.)

    I bet you my last baby-flavoured doughnut that the troll up there? Would wolf-whistle at me too. I’m beautiful and I know it, and I also know myself enough that if a guy tells me I’m not worth even being raped, that I’m ugly, that I’m not worth having, I will use my middle finger and high heels as necessary FOR GREAT JUSTICE.

    (I love that high heels are a symbol of the patriarchy, but they are also deadly weapons given a little aim and knowing how to toss your weight around without losing your balance.

    Like most of the stuff in the beauty industry. You know why liquid foundation stings when it gets in your eyes? It’s poison. Squeeze it into a guy’s mouth and see how well he takes it. Corsets kill because it’s damn-near impossible to breathe a) if they’re tightened enough b) through them should they be placed over someone’s face. Let’s not even mention laces. Dresses? All that extra fabric is hella good for strangulation. And so on. Yeah, all this stuff can and does kill us — but we can use it to kill, too. A nice cup of belladonna, anyone?

    Doesn’t change what they are, of course, and the standards they’re designed to enforce, and the subjugation they represent. But I always think of it like this: a weapon is a weapon, no matter what, and they give them to us. Hell, some of these fuckhead trolls want them be mandatory. I can think of places where a stick of lipgloss might go, and my mouth’s not going anywhere near, honey.)

    You know why? Every. Day. I’m thinking someone’s in the wrong here, and it isn’t me.

  141. I tend to fall for individual guys (and girls), then go out and get raging crushes on anyone on TV / in movies that looks remotely like him / her. Is that weird?

    For example, I fell smack-bang-bam for my current bf. Then I noticed that he looked like a cross between James Marsters and James Roday. And now I have huge crushes on both of them, and compulsively Netflix anything I can that they’re in. (depressingly little, actually.) I probably wouldn’t have given either of them a second look if it weren’t for my bf, because I tend to be most physically attracted to older men, at least when we’re talking objectified, never-gonna-really-interact-with-’em situations.

    If that doesn’t prove attraction is subjective, I don’t know what would. Plus, you know, DUH.

    Also, our current troll du jour is way too entertaining, please don’t ban him!

  142. You don’t HAVE to “decide you’re fabulous the way you are” in order to have a good relationship. If that were what it took, almost no woman would ever have a partner,

    Shout it from the rooftops. Also worth shouting: most people do not have the perfect ideal body type. Men or women. Many are fat. The majority still get married/partner up. Statistics are not on the side of the ev-psych i-was-promised-a-barbie-doll-by-Darwin types.

    The new troll is kinda funny. So healthy and well adjusted that he’s trolling a blog on his Saturday night.

  143. Kate, you rock, this rocks, and I also misread the troll at first.

    I mentioned before that I was once married, like that ex-300lb commenter, to a guy who didn’t like fat women. The catch was, I didn’t discover that till I’d gone from a 14 when I met him, down to a 10 (largely by extreme stress) when we married, up to a 16 again in about four years. He thought simply withholding sex and being lavish with snide remarks would melt the fat away. Not.

    Now, going back a little, my teens were a relationship disaster: crush after distant crush on guys who, close up, simply didn’t want to know me and were shocked, or amused, if I ‘fessed up. From the retrospect of being married to fat-hating guy in my 20s, I thought my looks turned them off. Now, from a longer view, I can see that I was painfully shy, socially dorky and came across as desperate, and being thinner would no way have changed any of that. Nor would it have changed the fact that fat-hating guy basically wanted a business trophy-wife, and he wasn’t going to get her from me at any size. All about how he looked, indeed.

    On ‘evo psych’ (and with respect to Alice, and understanding that the real science is way more complex): why is it that people who favor some kind of caveman theory of thin always seem to leave out exhibit A: the Venus of Willendorf? I know, I know, the jury’s out on exactly what she was for and whether she represented a real body or an ideal image, but every possible theory I’ve heard hinges on fat being a Good Thing to whoever carved her. Unless she was just the ‘before’ picture for a prehistoric version of WW.

    On ‘types’: I’ve fancied a very, very wide range of men over the years. I look back at some of the ones I’ve fancied and wonder what I was thinking of, but hey – individual tastes change over time, too. I once thought I could never fancy a guy with facial hair, but I’ve been married to one for some years now and I think he, and the beard, are both cute. And, like you, Melena, I’ve been intrigued to notice that mostly, the fat women I know seem to be partnered with thin men. It does happen the other way around, but it seems much less common.

    And, I do wish these people wtih the miraculous ability to tell us – without having ever met them – what our partners are thinking during sex, would do something useful with their psychic powers. Lottery numbers would be good.

  144. Kate, great piece. I just want to mention about that Darwin guy (and believe, I love me some Darwin):

    “Evolution has produced men who are attracted to women who appear to be good prospects for bearing HIS children.”

    Its actually the other way around in most of nature: the male of the species must do incredible displays in order for any female to even go near it.

    It’s completely beside the point I know, but I just hate it when people throw facts around when really it’s just sludge from the bunghole.

    And PS: if I had a nickel for every skinny, completely psychotic ex I’ve had, I’d be independently wealthy (not to say that skinny people are psychotic, it’s just to say that skinny doesn’t = this mystical “healthy” Mr. (or Ms.) Procreation is talking about).

  145. Those people are so full of shit about it being science dictating what people find attractive and not society. They even fucked up the bullshit about how men only find ‘healthy’ women attractive because of it being instinct. It’s not the fat that isn’t attractive, it’s the waist to hip ratio that is suppose to dictate if a woman can have kids.

    Anyway, I wanted to mention a video someone linked me to once because you brought up the self hate thing. The video was of an experiment where they took several very young children of color, from both America and some that had been brought up in other countries, and they showed them two baby dolls. One was a white doll and one was a black doll. They asked the kids which doll they wanted to have and which doll was prettier and it was nearly unanimous that they all thought the white doll was prettier.

    What was worse was that it didn’t just end at them thinking the white doll was prettier, they also said the white doll was nicer and the black doll was mean. Characteristics that have nothing to do with how attractive someone is.

    If it’s evolution and instinct that has taught us what ‘health’ and beauty is and that it’s what we should be attracted to, what does skin color have to do with it? Why would those kids, whose skin is not white, assume that a white doll is prettier, nicer and worth more? It’s because of the image of beauty that society shoves down everyones throats! It has absolutely nothing to do with any scientific or evolutionary predisposition to fat being ‘unhealthy’.

  146. when I was 15 somebody told me that of all people 10% was gay, 10% straight and 80% bisexual, witch means that

    95% of the population don’t find you unbelivable unattractive. This because of sience and evolution.

    And the 5% who do, have never tasted baby flavured donught so it’s their loss….

    [I don’t understand why this troll only think that straight men would find you unattractive. Because obviuse gay men also would, at least in a sexual way. Why are troll so stupid, WHY??. Kate Harding rocks!!]

  147. That comment, I am willing to venture, came from someone who is very scared of intelligent women. Not fat women or thin women or good women or bad women or whatever, but women who are clearly cleverer than he is.

  148. why is it that people who favor some kind of caveman theory of thin always seem to leave out exhibit A: the Venus of Willendorf?

    Because they’re cherry-picking the data. But honestly, pointing to the Venus of Willendorf doesn’t prove much about historical attitudes of the ideal woman figure in any case, any more than Rubens’ Venus at the Mirror proves something about the tastes of all 16th-century Flemish. The Venus of Willendorf might be a depiction of a pregnant woman. What does that say about what the average caveman preferred in a girlfriend? Who knows?

    And it shouldn’t matter. Look, the whole point of the dumb ev-psych argument is that because Caveman Were X, I am Justified in My Modern Belief. That’s a bad argument whatever body type ends up being glorified.

    [/soapbox. Sorry, this whole class of arguments pisses me off.]

  149. Ha. I read “attractive” at first too.

    I’m a skinny gal, and I’ve never had a boyfriend. Yes, thinness makes guys instantly be all over you! That’s ALL YOU NEED. Not.

    I’ve never placed much of a high priority on relationships. I never really had much attraction to people until recently as well. I suppose that’s what they call being a “late bloomer.” Oh, and if any guy likes me? I have no idea.

    (And yeah, I struggle with believing I’m attractive sometimes, even though I have that coveted tiny figure. Me? Attractive? I have ACNE! And I’m almost flat-chested! And I have bad posture [due to slight spine curvature issues]!)

    Ooh, and I have no idea how many times my friends think someone’s attractive and I think “meh.” Or (more often) how many times I’ve told them about a guy I think is amazingly beautiful and they look at me like I’m insane.

    Attraction is a universal thing, sure.

  150. I had to slog through all the hate to get there, but it was worth it :). The last few paragraphs of your post made my day. Sometimes I really need reminding that attractive is an opinion, and not some kind of universal categorization.

    Thanks for writing this, and thanks for your blog in general. Sometimes it’s small things that change the course of an hour, or a day. Just a little shove in the right direction. It can mean a lot.

  151. “Evolution has produced men who are attracted to women who appear to be good prospects for bearing HIS children.”

    Its actually the other way around in most of nature: the male of the species must do incredible displays in order for any female to even go near it.

    Yeah, I don’t remember ever seeing an intact male cat reject a female in heat because she wasn’t attractive enough. And boy, I’ve seen some pretty scraggly-looking female cats being hotly pursued by every tom in the neighborhood. All it takes is a little estrus, baby, and she’s got her pick.

  152. I’m glad you think I’m insightful and deep, though!

    From what I’ve read so far, anyway. :)

  153. hahaha, when I read it first, I read “attractive” too! And I was also very confused by the closet boyfriend bit. Anyhow, thanks for the talk back. Valuable stuff for a very near future discussion, I can count on that!

  154. I think my new rule is going to be that any time some asshat whips out the evolution and science defense for their preferences, I am going to demand to know how many children they have with their ultra-thin mates who they were attracted to for that very purpose. If it’s anything less than 8 I’m going to suggest that they consult with their genome to figure out why they can control the urge to reproduce so well if they’re so biologically incapable of adjusting their mate preferences. :)

  155. Poor Evolution– always misunderstood. I teach evolutionary biology to college freshmen– I’ll see if I can dumb it down to troll level.
    1. Not everything is an adaptive behavior. The development of white skin was adaptive (for the time and place where it developed). The American cultural preference for white skin– not adaptive. Skydiving and rugby=not adaptive.
    2. Some things that used to be adaptive don’t matter much anymore. We live in different circumstances than our ancestors. We also have ethics. It used to be adaptive to kill the weaker of a set of twins (esp in the winter, when you’d probably only have enough milk for one). No longer adaptive, or seen as ethical.
    3. FAT IS ADAPTIVE, folks. Oh yes, fat storage is likely one of those things that enabled us to better survive and produce offspring, especially those of us who lived in places where there were long winters or long dry seasons. Fat people survive famines. Fat women, when pregnant or nursing during a famine, are more likely to have enough energy for themselves and the baby. Wide-hipped women are less likely to die in childbirth. Obviously, there are not a lot of people dying of hunger in the west today, but there are health benefits shown to being fat. In addition, there’s no selection *against* fatness (ie fat people have the same number of children as thin people), so there’s no reason fatness would disappear, even if it isn’t as important for survival as before.
    4. Trollery is also obviously neither adaptive nor deleterious, as trolls seem to not know when they’re about to get smacked down by those fitter (smarter) than them, but they still seem to be proliferating.
    5. The waist-to-hip ratio study has a million holes in it and should NEVER be cited again.
    6. Is it just me, or do people who discourage girls from pursuing scientific careers because it’s too hard then turn around and think they’re an expert when global warming or evolution is mentioned?

    Thanks, Kate, for this fantastic post.

  156. Acer: “6. Is it just me, or do people who discourage girls from pursuing scientific careers because it’s too hard then turn around and think they’re an expert when global warming or evolution is mentioned?”

    If by “expert”, you mean “those who refuse to accept either as a plausible theory and insist that those who do are 1) anti-American and 2) heretics”, then yes. They are one and the same.

  157. amazing post kate,

    I pity the fool who limits themselves to ‘one type of person’. Sometimes you just LIKE someone, and that’s as good as life gets. denying yourself that? stupid.

    and you know I read it as ‘attractive’ too.

    lucy x

  158. Thanks for this post. Although I already had an inkling that attraction was subjective, this post really helped me to clarify things in my mind. It really helps the way I see myself if I tell myself that attraction is subjective.

  159. This is awesome!! I don’t happen to be fat, but have had guys try to change my looks…including telling me to lose weight…and every time I didn’t get beautiful enough for them and got dumped, I blamed myself. (I was even proud of myself for eating little enough that I fainted in the mall…trying to take 20lbs off my OMGHORRIFYING 5’5″ 120lb body to satisfy a pro athlete/pro asshole guy who wouldn’t let me meet his friends until I fit his “image.”)

    I don’t date guys like that anymore — partly because I wised up and partly because I’m too old for them! — but the troll comments on BG reminded me of them. I got pissed off all over again…but after I read your post I realized I’m pissed at THEM, not at MYSELF for not being beautiful enough for people like them. So thanks!

  160. I… I’m absolutely speechless. I really don’t know where to start.
    In one month I will turn eighteen and in two months I will forever leave behind my high school days. For the past six (or possibly more) years I have fought with my self image, depression, and what I understood to be universal truths. I had three.
    1. Life’s a bitch.
    2. Gravity and shoes with wheels on them on a hardwood gym floor should never be mixed.
    3. I’m am 5’4″ and near the 200 pound range so I am, without a doubt, fugly and will never be loved by the opposite sex.
    These self made “truths” created a very lonely, very dark life for me.
    I’m not sure what changed my thought pattern. Maybe it was my mother. Perhaps my friends? I don’t know and I doubt I ever will, but I have since become a very different person.
    I stopped trying to meet other peoples standards and instead chose to create my own. I finally recognized that if people can’t love and accept me for who I am instead of what I look like, then fuck them! (Not literally of course…) I don’t need some idiot without a single original thought in his head to tell me I’m pretty. I don’t have to have HIS approval to appear in public beside him. And no one will ever tell me that I’d find more love if I was skinny. I don’t need your pseudo-love anymore than I need to starve myself! When I find a guy that can look at me, in a pair of jeans and a sweater with my hair put up in a bun because I was too lazy to do anything with it that day, and tell me I’m beautiful, then I will know that I’m loved. No one should have to get dressed up or hide behind a mask of makeup to hear those words. No one.
    And, I’ve found a few of those guys. They haven’t made me Zing!, but they know that attitude, confidence, and a sweet smile count far more than any tiny waist or pair of long legs.
    Now, I have but one truth that I live by.
    “Life is what you make of it. Get to work!”

  161. Well of course I love you for this, as everyone else so far.

    I find an unusual celebrity attractive, as well. I could sit and stare at Hugo Weaving forEVER, and the majority of my friends just don’t get that. It’s something in the way he MOVES, some undefinable elegance or grace or something. This makes watching the Matrix films quite different for me than most people. ^_^ I just think he’s head-explodingly attractive. I love my friends because even though they think I’m slightly crazy and do not share my opinion, no less than 4 girls were scouring the internet to see if they could find a promo picture or something of him in leather pants for my birthday one year. ^o^

    I have been more or less overweight since I graduated from high school, and dated several guys before I met & married my husband. 3 out of the 4 were ripped and muscular and SHOULD’VE, if the trolls are correct, preferred someone thinner or more athletic than me. Nope. And while they were attractive to me, none of them were as attractive as the guy I married. Who is slightly pudgy, wears glasses, has a cute little goatee, and seems to have a mischievous smile permanently glued to his face. MAN, just look at all that subjectivity. Here; let me mop that up for ya.

  162. I’m a bit late on this one, but yeah, I read ‘attractive’ too. It took me several seconds longer than it should have to figure out what was going on, actually!

    I still find it funny and slightly cognitive dissonance-inducing that I’m both the fattest and the most popular with the boys that I’ve ever been. I don’t know whether it’s because I look better with more padding, or because I’m more self-confident, or because I’ve figured out how to dress, etc. to my best advantage, or some other factors. I guess it doesn’t really matter why, but that’s the situation, and the douchehounds can bite me. :)

    Also, I should have known to toss the ex out on his ass sooner than I did when he told me that I wasn’t hot and could never be hot unless I looked like the girls in Maxim, and all guys thought the same way. Heh. His sample selection for that question was obviously not representative. (Please excuse the stats humor.)

  163. Obviously great post.
    But, I still think that women are far kinder when it comes to accepting male attractiveness as wide and varied.
    I think men judge female attractiveness more. I think they have a more privileged attitude toward the looks of their partner.
    Oh, and even though I weigh 130lbs, I have never had a partner, because I think the theory that self-loathing is unattractive is spot on.

  164. Do any women (of which I am one) play the same game, claiming whenever they make an offensive statement that “all women” think this way or that? Because this particular form of ganging up through this universal (fictional) bond strikes me as a very male form of insecurity.

  165. I found that my weight wasn’t the cause of my popularity with guys. Men found me attractive if I was self-confident. I’ve been called ‘an ugly, fat, chick’ by men walking or driving by while I thought myself as fat. With no weight loss, I walked down the street with confidence and got wolf whistles.

    Other women told me that I would never find a man since I was ‘overweight’, but the men weren’t listening to them.

  166. Yeah attraction is a funny thing. I never thought I’d like a guy with a beard, then one came along who was just wonderful, and I couldn’t imagine not liking him.

    It’s all in the person in the skin. My husband had terrible acne when I met him but he was a teen ager (as was I) and I still fell in love with him… instantly. It made no logical sense at all to see some 15 year old kid and say “This is the man I’m going to marry.”

    I’m a big believer in love at first sight since it happened to me, yet the scientist voice in my head says “That is absolutely ridiculous.”

    It’s true though, so all I can figure is that attraction is much more complex than just looks.

    And Troll person, I am fat, yes, MORBIDLY OBESE! God how I hate that word combo. I’m not dying. And when my husband fucks me, he thinks of all my nice cushioning and how much he loves my big old fat ass and bouncy boobs. So do several other people I am quite fond of and vice versa.

    Maybe it’s time to stop dreaming of the cottage cheese and take the plunge. Soft can be very nice for the senses. And fat girls can do mannnnny interesting things to please those sausages that stick figures couldn’t even dream of.

    Course you’ll probably never find out what they are. Poor little thing.

    P.S. I think the designation of the maturation of a high schooler, is entirely offensive to high schoolers out there, many of whom are actually growing up enough to stop childish behavior. I have found in my own experience and that of my daughters who have only just survived it that JUNIOR high is much more populated with the types of people we see posting moronic ideas. Therefore I personally will be equating them to Junior Highers from now on. But you all can and should do what you like :D

  167. I’m a little late to this post, but I did want to delurk to say:

    While I completely agree that attraction is subjective, I think it’s crucial not to forget that subjectivity is profoundly affected by culture.

    While no-one is ever required to find anyone else attractive, arguments that go along the lines ‘i’m just not attracted to x’, when x is a culturally dispreferred characteristic, make me very uneasy. There will always be differences in the things that different people find attractive, but I do think that a little (or a lot!) of attention to the basis on which we prefer some characteristics over others is time well spent. Attraction, in my opinion, is not only present or absent — it can be cultivated. And while simple not dating someone who you don’t find attractive is all well and good when considering future relationships, dealing with a loss of attraction to an existing partner is a more complicated thing. IMHO, seeing attraction as something which is completely outside of our control is not helpful.

    This is a bit sensitive for me at the moment — i was chatting with my partner last night, and somehow we got onto the subject of ageing. I was talking about some of my ambivalent feelings about becoming less conventionally attractive as i get older, and his response (‘i’ll always love you no matter how you look’) left me feeling both sad and irritated. Of course i’m deeply grateful for his love, but do we have to give up on attraction? I don’t want to stay young; i like the way my looks are changing as i go through my life (and i’m only 37 — still a long way to go, touch wood!), but is it too much to hope my partner to cultivate an appreciation for/attraction to my changing body, rather than settling for a promise to love me despite it?

  168. I am actively retraining my own aesthetic sense about women, justdrawnthatway. I agree it is changeable.

    I’ve never had a really issue with men. Those I love teach me the aesthetic of their bodies, and I’ve changed “type” a few times already.

    But I have a sort of funny story as to aging:
    I remember being panicked when I started being interested in boys. They were like, y’know, 11: and so was I. Star Wars came out, and everyone was talking about Han Solo being GORGEOUS, and I liked the 10 year old nerdy kid who I read comics with, and I though he was totally cute. And I thought older guys were gross.
    Well, Duh, right?
    But I was worried I’d stick there, that there was something wrong with me. Mainly because all the other girl kids were twittering.

    I figured out by 17 that my tastes matured, but because of my early panic (at not finding Han Solo, but in fact nerdy kid) attractive I think about it at each stage. And sure enough: 35 and a little salt and pepper IS hotter to me now than 20 something folks, who suddenly look younger than I remember being.

    I can only imagine what 60 will bring.

    I think it’ll be the same for your partner. The attractiveness comes with you.

  169. I have a million thoughts roiling around my head on this very issue, because as it happens my husband and I stayed up late discussing attraction and the nature of attractiveness and that kind of stuff last night. It came up because a couple of his coworkers were over watching basketball with us, and one of them had found some stupid website that supposedly ranked the attractiveness of women at various universities. This concept seemed almost beneath getting exactly “offended” over per se, so my brain went to more like “even if you could come up with a list of objective measures of attractiveness, the likelihood of any large campus differing statistically as to those measures seems like it would be very low.” The whole idea of anyone thinking that such a web site could have any… I guess, validity, or usefulness, is sort of bewildering. So that was the first topic of interest for me. What kinds of factors might have consciously or unconsciously gone into that “ranking”–because obviously it would be impossible for it to objectively rank “attractiveness”?

    The next part goes to my own subjective standards of attractiveness, but the same coworker was also opining about which schools’ cheerleaders he thought were prettiest. (Apparently the NCAA Tournament offers multiple opportunities for studying people’s behavior as it relates to attraction. Who knew.) To me, for most big-conference universities, you line up the cheerleaders and they sort of all look the same. I mean, they’re pretty, but as I thought about it, it occurred to me that when I went running on the campus of my alma mater the other day I probably saw 20 girls who looked basically exactly like that–some of them could have actually been on the cheerleading squad for all I know–just in the hour’s time that I was out and about. But in that context they’re just people (much to their relief, I’m sure) and not fetishized for how beautiful they are. Why? And when we make such an effort to “standardize” ourselves, how do we even make decisions about whether Person A or Person B is more attractive? You might as well just pick somebody at random. And if it’s really about personality, intelligence, pheromones, quirky individual physical features, etc., then why do we “standardize” in the first place? I really should read The Red Queen as my husband keeps recommending… :)

    Anyway, to my taste that kind of beauty (not the women themselves, but the look resulting from the things they do to make themselves all look the same) is boring. It’s the same kind of thing that also makes modern mainstream porn, and like Maxim-type soft-core stuff, boring to me. Everyone has the standardized attributes of those cheerleaders but added to that, they are all hairless and have breast implants of a specified shape and size. I imagine this type of standard is what contributes to people seeking that ab-contouring surgery, and (god forbid) labial plastic surgery, and the like–everyone has to be uniform. But what makes a person physically compelling to me is usually their little quirks, maybe because they make the person “real” to me. (For example, right now I’m remembering a guy I talked to briefly in college. He was a Classical Studies major, looked kind of like Seth Rogen, and had this very pronounced U.P. accent–my stomach even now flips over a little as I remember what his voice sounded like. This dude was dead hot to me and I’ve thought about him many times since, but someone else might think, what a weird combination of traits to find attractive.)

    Therefore I have no trouble whatsoever understanding and believing (though, I mean, I don’t have to believe it, it’s just true) that people of all sizes, shapes, smells, skin tones, degrees of hairiness, heights, ages, abilities, etc. are being attracted to each other to varying degrees, and those that get together are having sex of a degree of awesomeness that has nothing to do with whether the majority of other people out in society would agree that they are attractive. Why would anything else matter besides whether the people involved find each other attractive? It seems so simple to me.

    Then the other coworker is also an interesting psychological study. He has very high standards for his own appearance–he dresses very sharply, his hair is always done, he “watches” his weight to a worrisome degree, etc.–and he was once so horrified to learn that my husband and I wear slippers in our own home that it’s become sort of a running joke among all of us. To talk to him you would be pretty sure that he is sort of an exaggerated version of the commenters Kate described. He appears to believe that anyone who owns slippers–or, you know, would wear sweatpants or isn’t thin or doesn’t have whitened teeth, for example–has objectively very little chance of ever getting laid. Yet I know that he is interested in another of their coworkers, who is definitely not the kind of person who appears to have a lot of time for teeth-whitening, hair products, makeup, and the like. And I’m fairly sure from observation that the other cheerleader-ogling coworker is interested in her too. What does this mean? Is it some kind of social ritual to bond over being “attracted” to airbrushed women on TV, or would these guys actually prefer such “perfect”-looking women in real life if they could attract them? (I doubt it in their particular cases, but who knows.) It’s all so confusing.

    I feel like there are two worlds operating in parallel here: one where nobody would ever consider laying a hand on me and that’s a self-evident truth because attractiveness is some kind of universal, predictable, objective continuum from attractive to ugly, and the one where I am happily married and my husband finds me really hot, whereas I’m sure our friend the troll would puke if he saw me naked, and as Kate said, both of those things can be true at the same time. I believe that there are a lot of people who really and truly dwell in that first world, and they and I have a complete inability to understand or relate to each other. It’s not really a question of what their aesthetic preferences are or how important physical attributes are to that equation, either; it’s whether they can understand that those preferences are anything but the same for everyone. I once had an argument online with someone who never could be made to understand how my husband could be attracted to me without having a so-called “fat fetish.” Of course there’s no reason I couldn’t have been married to a man who prefers fat women, it just so happens that there actually isn’t much pattern to the sizes of the women my husband finds attractive. And the person I was arguing with could not for the life of him understand how weight–be it preferring fat women or thin women–might be a central part of attraction for some but not for others, and that’s fine.

    So it is great to read and think about this post in the wake of all that. I realize now that basically everything I have said is just a repeat of Sarah’s comment above, though, so I will quote:

    “Do they live in the real world? I see ALL TYPES of people paired up on a DAILY basis.”


  170. Oh (and if I’m the 100th customer to chime in on this, do I win something?) I read the douchehound comment over several times because I was confused by the hostility at the end of it, and each time I too read it as “unbelievably attractive.” Hee.

  171. I’ve only made it halfway through the zillion comments, and I HAVE to go to bed, but I wanted to post….

    kate, I’m so glad you wrote this! I so needed to read this today. You know, I keep getting so down on myself about why I’m single when I’m not sure I want to be, and no matter how hard I try, there is always the little niggle in my brain that says it’s because I’m fat.

    And then I read your post, and I realized if I had a dollar for every guy that’s looked at me, smiled at me, said hello to me, and/or tried to chat me up over the last little while, I’d be stinking rich. Also, I started a new temp assignment a couple of weeks ago, and the whole IT department seems to be tumbling through the doors of my section to play my knights in shining armour. Even a couple of days ago, I was out with a guy I’m just getting to know – and STILL other guys were trying to chat me up. And I blame my singlehood on being “unattractive”??? Seriously?

    By the way, I misread the “unattractive” post the first time, too. Because of course I assume people think you are beautiful, kate, as I do! :)

  172. Arwen, thank you. That last line of your comment particularly struck me. Mostly, i feel hopeful and curious about the future, but sometimes living in this culture that hates women and hates fat and hates ageing and *despises* fat, ageing women, just gets me down, and i feel that it will be impossible to resist its encroachment. But I work hard to change my thinking and to change the world, so I appreciate your optimism, and I share it (mostly!).

    And count me in on thinking (back in 1977) that having the hots for Han Solo was *perverted*! Heh!

  173. Kate, I’m an American in Paris and I think in half French, half English (ok, like 1/3-2/3), and I think the phrase “raison de blog” is amazing, and I was wondering if you’d be ok with me totally ripping it off.

  174. and wow.
    when i was 10 my “best friend” told me one day while we were looking at v-day cards, literally “well, no one will ever love you because you’re too fat.”
    that stuck in my head for a long time, and i immediately dated the first boy who showed some interest in me in high school. i spent the rest of high school dating various ill-advised pot heads because i needed to prove that i was not “too fat to be loved.” hmm.
    so you know, it’s only taken like 15 years or so to get more or less beyond the need to prove something to somebody even though by most objective standards i am not actually fat anymore.
    its ridiculous and amazing and inspiring and sad and all sorts of other clusterfucky emotional things to see this many people all talking about such similar experiences.
    what’s really shitty is that i’ll bet a lot of folks had a similar experience to mine, where it was a “friend” that first tried to convince them that they weren’t worthy of love.

  175. This post just spoke to me so much. I’m pretty young – only 21- and the two guys I dated in university were eerily similar: both tall (6’0 and 6’1), skinny, caucasian, long-haired nerdy types. And I thought I’d found my type. But then I moved to Japan, single, and thinking I’d probably have a year or two of celibacy, because Asian men just didn’t do for me and I didn’t hink I’d meet many foreign men I’d be interested in. Now, somehow, I’ve ended up dating an average height (about 5’8″, or four inches taller than me), moderately muscular Japanese man, and no one was more surprised than me. After all, he was completely not my type! But I guess it just goes to show that attractiveness really is subjective, and considering that he’s never dated a foreign woman before, we are both breaking out of our “type”.

    Long rambly way of saying YES HOMG KATE YOU ARE AWESOME.

    Also, Hugo Weaving? Hotsauce. My 8th grade English teacher loved him, and we watched so many of his films for class.

  176. “Could someone explain to me why on EARTH I would want to be in a relationship with someone who was willing to love me at a size 8 but not at a size 20?”

    This really speaks to the heart of losing weight so that phantom people will find you attractive. I’ve lost a bunch of weight several times as an adult. I’m much heavier now than I was when I first thought I needed to lose weight, which phenomenon is almost an unwritten rule of weight loss/weight gain. (I don’t know if I screwed up my metabolism, or feeling like I had to diet did more to screw up my relationship to food.) After each weight-loss phase I ended up with a boyfriend, who knows why. I think I tried harder then, but the energy for that came from a really neurotic place. I didn’t feel I was worthier deep down, just that I was now Sex-Ay and probably wanted to prove that now I could start to “Live!”, now that I was “attractive.” Those experiences, too, messed me up. And after I started to put on weight again the last time, I realized that, were I to lose it, I would be angry and resentful toward anyone whom I had known as a heavier person who then might take interest in me as a thinner person. Why would I want to date someone so shallow, with such a looks-ist agenda?

    I am struggling to learn that my feelings of unattractiveness have nothing to do with what I look like. They really don’t. All my life I’ve gotten feedback that tells me I look much cuter than I think I do, and it hasn’t made me go, “Oh! Those people must be right, I’m hott.” And I do believe that people are attracted to all sorts of looks anyway, and that indulging in rigid ideas of what everyone should look like to please you makes you a stone idiot. If you are a mature and mindful person, you don’t necessarily find attractiveness in people of all descriptions, but you have more of an open mind and grow to appreciate the physical being of whomever you’ve grown to love. I know I’m attracted to all kinds of men, from tiny, pretty guys I could embrace and kiss without stretching my neck, to big, rugged guys whose lap I could sit on without worrying about bruising his femurs. (Joke.) This has nothing to do with whether I could have a conversation with and care for these men as people, which is much more important. Anyway, I still am very pessimistic about myself and my prospects, because of how I feel inside, but as least I can see where my thoughts and emotions are what’s making me miserable.

    The trollish obsession with continually upholding false beauty standards is simple sadism. I don’t believe they really believe what they’re saying; they are just trying to hurt people. What’s great about this post (I should say, one of the things that’s great about it) is that it totally didn’t work.

    And, in conclusion, I, too, smiled at the original comment because I thought this was some nice guy saying how unbelievably attractive you are, Kate. Quite a “Baroo?” moment I had after that.

  177. I, too, read the original post as complementary until your comments made me go back and read it.
    I’m male, and have a set of eyes.
    I find I am attracted to people rather than bodies, and bodies are a small part of what makes someone attractive. Sure the body makes a first impression, but that’s it. Once I know someone, what they look like means little.
    In an evolutionary sense we’re conditioned to find young and healthy attractive, that’s it. The current standard of thinness wasn’t healthy through most of history, because you didn’t have any reserves for the lean times.

  178. You know, it’s weird how the truth makes some people so uncomfortable. Kate – you did a great job of laying it out in your post.

    This troll guy – what he’s saying is what I believed when I was a teenager. It was reinforced by my parents, my peers, and the media. As I got older and gained experience in the real world, I found out that it was a lie, that attraction is complicated, yada yada. All very, very true. NOT self-help bullshit. Actual Truth.

    And, I want to ask: “What stake do people have in promoting this bullshit?” Is it just so that they can feel superior? How pathetic is that? To spend your time reading blogs written by people you hate (because of a physical characteristic, no less), sending them nasty messages that will never be posted or will be posted only for the purpose of ridicule… What kind of loser would waste his time like that? Normal people minimize contact with those they don’t like – they don’t seek it out. Are these guys closeted chubby chasers or something?

  179. 1. Thanks. This is yet another instance of me saying “What Kate Harding said” when someone asks me questions about FA/SA and fat discrimination, and all.

    2. I also missed the “un” at first and was confused.

    3. Nice on Al! I think I might be able to look a bit like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, too. . .

  180. Kate, I too read ‘attractive’ at first. Then I reread it. Wow, there’s a man who’s scared of something.

    For someone who doesn’t like ‘fat’ women, he certainly spends a lot of time imagining them having sex. Methink the gentleman doth protest too much…

    Does he yearn for fleshy females, while dating women who tick all of society’s boxes for ‘attractiveness’? Is he in fact a closeted chubby chaser?

    Just a theory. Or he could just be a total numpty.

    Aberrant17, I wish I’d had your attitude to men (and attractiveness) at 17, I could have saved myself from some awful relationships. Finally, in my mid 30’s, I am generally happy with myself – but have some way to go to completely accept my bodily self.

    And, I have a healthy, functioning relationship with a (skinny, eats like a horse) man who doesn’t make snide comments when I eat, doesn’t bully me into gym memberships, tells me I am beautiful even when I am whey-faced and ill (like today), with unwashed hair and wearing pyjamas. And we always, always have sex with the lights on.

    Kate – that man is talking out of his arse. Which about 200 people have already pointed out, but bears repeating. Thanks to you and all the people on this thread for making my day.

  181. What I always find strange is that the parts of my body that I like the least (say, the way my tummy sticks out and the fat on the outsides of my thighs below my hips) are the parts that my dear boyfriend keeps touching over and over — ’cause they’re his favorites.

    So yeah, anecdotally, attraction = subjective. :)

    (And I think Kate Harding is hot.)

  182. Evolutionary Biology: Giving Assholes Excuses to Act Like Assholes Since 1994!

    Yeah, I took an entire class in college about junk biology. I wish, like comp, it was required. Alas, it was an grad-level physical anthropology class, so the morons who needed it the most couldn’t take it.

    I agree–Kate Harding is hot.

  183. here is a prince story:

    in the 80s, MTV had some contest – if you won, prince would come to your hometown and perform a concert and you would be his special guest. well, a girl won the contest, from wyoming or montana or somewhere like that, and she was plain and fat and the mtv people made fun of her the entire time.

    prince held her hand, put his arm around her, insisted that she be in every camera shot with him, would giggle into her ear constantly and make her laugh. you could say that he did all of those things because he was on tv, but the MTV people were already there with the ‘ha ha, fat loser” and he could have used them and his handlers to keep a distance from her. but he didn’t. and by the time he played the concert, with her and her friends in the front row, she had blossomed.

    the other thing i want to say, and it’s so important to: when i was engaged, i weighed 140 and was THIN by any standard. my husband made me feel like shit about my appearance. he would TAKE FOOD OUT OF MY HANDS IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. he would berate me so i would get up at 5 in the morning to go work out (while he lazed around in bed). there was nothing wrong with me from a conventional societal appearance factor but he wanted me to think that there was so he could control me. luckily i was 23 and got out of that relationship within a few years but it’s 20+ years later and i’m still working out those issues. so hopefully if i write it here someone may read it and it may ring a bell and they may get out quicker.

    and my boyfriend thinks my ass is cute and can’t keep his hands off me. and he is not a type i ever would have said was attractive, but omfg he is hot.

  184. Coyote…wow…just….wow. First of all, I’m not a fan of Prince’s music, but that story about him really made me happy, because you’re right, it would have been easy for him to stay away from the girl, but instead he went out of his way to make her happy.

    Also, your husband…if I may overstep my bounds, I’d like to say I’m glad you got away from him. When I read about that kind of douchebag behavior, I start to feel like Homer Simpson in that Halloween episode of “The Simpsons” that parodies “The Shining.” “Urge to kill, rising, rising…”

  185. Here’s what FA has done for me: I read comments like these now and I can’t even muster up the will to get angry. I laugh — god, that is the stupidest thing I’ve read in a long time — and then I feel sad for these people because they are so incredibly pathetic. How does a person get to be that? What kind of personal hell must it be to hateful and self-hating like that?

  186. There’s an aspect of attraction you’ve missed, that relates to several of the things you talk about, in interesting and complex ways: Attraction is subjective, yes, and also *social*. You can pretty much just know this is true without scientific backing, but there is real research demonstrating this. Our perceptions of attraction are influenced by our judgement of what other people around us see as attractive.

    For example, one study found that when a woman sees other women smile at a man, she will rate that man as more attractive than if she had not seen other women smile at him; conversely, if a man sees women smile at another man, he will rate that man as less attractive. (when I read this study I found myself wondering whether they tried with gays or bisexuals, and whether the results would’ve been different, but the writeup didn’t bring that up)

    This suggests a lot of possibilities. For example:
    – The more confident you are, the more likely other people will see you as attractive, not just because you are subjectively more attractive due to confidence, but also because of a sort of multiplier affect as people observe other people responding to you
    – If you are overweight the social conditioning that that is unattractive generally (rather than to specific individuals) could also have a similar multiplier effect but in the other direction
    – … lots of others, many of which I haven’t thought of …

  187. Coyote, two things–first, that story about Prince is awesome! He obviously gets it. :)
    Second, can we arrange a retroactive asskicking for both of our exes? Mine used to inform me that I didn’t need, or take away, dessert in front of people. I got rid of mine rather more recently and feel like a complete idiot for putting up with it for almost 7 years.

  188. Just re-read this whole thing again, and I think the meta-message of the “unbelievably unattractive” comment is this:

    “Yo, ladies! If you aren’t doing everything you possibly can do to stiffen the dicks of ‘every straight man on the planet,’ not only are you a failure, you’re immoral.”

    I mean, nothing gets a woman out of the way like trying to be someone else. Naomi Wolf was right. Susan Brownmiller was right.

    And so is Kate.

    “Attraction is subjective is all they really meant,” my dimpled white ass!

  189. Ok, so…

    1. My thighs are not made out of cottage cheese, damn it, they’re made out of baby donuts!

    2. My partner is v. amused at the number of times I’ve said, “Kate Harding says….”

    3. I find Prince sexy but I don’t want to have sex with him–he just sexes up the room when he’s in it.

    4. Angelina Jolie? Hot. Especially in her Hacker days. She’s a cross match between my partner’s and my lists.

    5. My partner, who looks like a cross between Seth Rogan and Jack Osborne, mostly likes plump emo girls with band t-shirts and thick glasses (like me) and is embarrassed by his secret thing for Paris Hilton and Christina Aquilera. I think it’s the hair. :)

    6. Oddly enough, although I’ve never lacked for attention, it was when I was skinny that I didn’t understand why I got it. I felt so ugly and fat (when fat meant something bad) that I was clueless as to why anyone would find me attractive. As I gained weight and had to accept myself and love myself or be miserable forever, I started to come to terms with my hotness. Although clearly not humility.

  190. I mean, nothing gets a woman out of the way like trying to be someone else.

    Wow. Cindy, thanks to this I think I’ve just realized what was going on for the first 25 years of my life. Saved me some therapy, I think.

  191. You know, I just noticed on the trackback link that BG has a “mean comments will be deleted” policy. That… that strikes me as false. I guess it’s not “mean” if the person you’re insulting and devaluing isn’t (for all you know) watching at the time?

  192. You know, KH, I give you a lot of credit for going in and commenting on that thread. It needed to be done, and you nailed it, and Lynn noticed and good for her. It’s emotionally exhausting for me to enter hostile environments like that and try to make my case, but you just proved that sometimes a columnist can be a lot smarter than her commentariat. It’s heartening that here we have both smart authors AND smart commenters!

    You know, looking at the original letter, it’s true, the writer does not actually say she’s “obese.” She could just be 20 pounds heavier than the dude’s Gwen Stefani preferences for all we know, but people see “lose the weight and then we’ll talk” as “ZOMG SHE MUST NOT BE ABLE TO FIT THROUGH A DOOR AND ABOUT TO DIE ANY SECOND.” You are so right that all the IT’S UNHEALTHEEEEE! stuff is a smokescreen; I don’t believe for a minute that if Scarlett Johanssen came up to one of them and said, “Screw going to the gym, let’s just stay in bed and smoke a million cigarettes,” they’d actually say no.

  193. Meowser, I thought of that too. Nowhere in the letter does it mention whether she’s actually fat or “overweight”. It’s quite possible that she is already fairly thin, and at what the medical establishment would consider a “healthy” weight, but the guy rejected her because he was looking for someone with the proportions of a model. I doubt the kind of guy who would say: “Call me when you lose weight” would be satisfied with a woman with a BMI of 23, you know?

  194. That… that strikes me as false

    I hear you, but I’m assuming she’s talking about meanness directed specifically at other commenters. Otherwise, you’re right, it doesn’t make sense.

  195. Wow, I’m not sure what it says about me that nowhere in that post did it occur to me that the woman might not actually be fat, as the commenters were apparently assuming.

    That’s even more evidence for how subjective this whole thing is.

  196. Ok, I am just now reading this post and comments, and had to add my Philip Seymour love in. I LOVE him. A friend of mine met y boyfriend for the first time, and was like, hey, you look like that guy from Magnolia. I almost died with pleasure.

  197. I also wondered if the woman who wrote into BG was fat. No reason she’d have to be – I’m a “nonfat fat activist” (other thread, and yes that sounds like an expensive coffee drink) but I’ve gotten the “you’re too fat for me” BS more than once.

    It doesn’t matter – ANY asshole who tells a woman to lose weight needs to feel the door hitting him in the ass on the way out of her life – but I do think some guys use “you’re fat” as shorthand for “I don’t want you” when their reasons really have 0% to do with weight, because they know it’s generally hurtful enough to drive a woman away. (I apologize if this is a monster DUH to everyone else here and my thin privilege is showing.)

  198. I for one didn’t even think of that possibility, AnotherKate–that could very well be. If that is the case then the writer is even better off without this guy than I thought.

    Either way, when you tangle weight up with a relationship, either as a control issue or actually making it conditional on weight, nothing would send me personally running faster in the opposite direction. That is just some bad, toxic stuff. Either you can handle that the person is fat or you can’t, but if you can’t you should not be involved in a relationship with them.

  199. That comment didn’t even dignify a response, but you addressed it brilliantly.


  200. Well written!

    It’s especially funny that someone claims that men are attracted to women who are most likely to bear them healthy children. People with very low body fat are more likely to have no periods at all. Their bodies don’t have the resources to sustain themselves, let alone a baby!

  201. I’m going to chime in really late here about crappy exes and “guys only like skinny girls”. I’m short and skinny-ish (in a boyish with a belly way) and I didn’t get kissed until age 22 (when I was at my highest weight, by the way). And that dude told me early on that I was fat and had a bad personality and that I wasn’t smart, just privileged. But hey, no one else wanted me, so he must be right. It took me 4 years of starving myself and shrinking my personality and bringing my friggin’ NSF fellowship to a grad school he could manage to get into (he’s the smart one, but I’m the one with the fellowship and the top-level grad school offers…right…) before I finally left his ass. I’m still a bit pathological about my belly because of him.

    And the handful of guys who were attracted to me because I’m short and skinny? Total losers who freaked in an unbecoming way when they found out that I was a childfree feminist science geek (no, dumbass, just because I’m half your size doesn’t mean I’m submissive). There is a huge difference between getting hit on by someone who finds *you* attractive and getting hit on because you fit their checklist of physical traits. But the combination of a wedding band and my silvering hair has eliminated the latter jerks from my life, happily.

  202. My jaw is still on the floor. I can’t believe people are so fucking rude!

    Okay, I know better, I know people can be that rude. I’m not naive. I just, I dunno, go about my day NOT insulting people’s looks. I think I was raised better?

    FWIW: I too initially misread the double negative. Partly because double negatives throw me off cognitively, but also because I can’t imagine being so rude to someone as to insult their looks. Then again, I wouldn’t tell someone I don’t know they’re hot, either, because, ya know, that’s rude, too! “Hey, let me say something to make you self-conscious. And maybe I’ll get all creepy on ya!”

    Anyhoo, great post!

  203. I remember reading once this woman who lost around 10 stone (140lbs) and she was around 25 when she hit this ‘ideal weight’ and down to a UK size 8/10 and big and small, she’s a GORGEOUS woman. Beyond belief.

    Anyway, the offers for dates started rolling in and she was looking for love, so she took a picture of herself at her biggest and at the end of the meal as the conversation was flowing she remarked that she used to weigh 20 stone (280lbs) and show them a picture. Most of them recoiled in horror and she basically told them to fuck off.

    The guy she ended up marrying turned and said after seeing the picture “I still would have found you attractive, both brain and looks wise if you were like that.” Niched the deal.

    So those men who believe that maxim is the way forward and try to give themselves justification for perving on skinny teenagers should look at themselves. In most instances, even a fat girl wouldn’t look twice at them (i’ve had that before..”Can I have your number” “err, no.” “you’re rejecting me?” “Yes.” “*To friends* I’ve just been rejected by a fat girl.” Hello, you were NOT my type of man you arrogant cockwipe. You were SLIM (OMG) but look like you had taken 20 beats from the ugly stick every day since birth.

  204. Dear Kate Harding,

    I just started reading your blog a few days ago…..and I want to BECOME you. Without the cussing maybe.

    I love how clear you are – you’re helping me to think about many things and that’s FABULOUS.

    I’m up very late reading past posts….I can’t wait to read them all! And I look forward to everything you have to say on any subject….even if I disagree with you.

    a new fan

  205. I also read “unbelievably attractive”, even after reading it a few times. LOL

    I’m 5’6″ and weigh 200lbs and there are days I love myself and days I wish I could just be thin. Loving and accepting myself completely is an ongoing journey.

    Attractiveness indeed very subjective and that’s wonderful! I don’t understand why some people just don’t get that. Even though I struggle with my insecurities I try not to show it – pretending to be confident all the time helps me to actually feel that way.

    As for men not finding fat women attractive, well, last year I had three lovers and this year I have two (also had a boyfriend who turned out to be a POS but that was because he was a sociopath). Both my lovers are thinner and younger than I am (I’m 37, they’re 32 and 29) and would be considered to be conventionally attractive. I asked the younger one (whom I met when he was 22) if he still found me attractive even though I’d gained weight since we first met and he replied, “I think you’re smoking hot no matter what your weight!” But according to the trolls he must be delusional to think that way.

    I also fall into the trap of thinking that if I lost weight more men would find me attractive. Maybe they would but would they really be the kind of man I’d want in my life? No, definitely not. I hang on to that thought.

    As for my hotties…hmm…my current onscreen crush is Noah Bennett on Heroes (the man with the horn-rimmed glasses). I think he’s yummy.

  206. So very true. As a self-described “thin” woman, I am currently in my first serious relationship. At age 28. If all it took to be “hot” or “attractive” is to be thin, I should have had a zillion boyfriends by now, and instead I have one.

    On the other hand, he is a) a good one, b) incredibly hot, and c) not thin. Go figure.

  207. Ha. That’s funny. I read it as “You are an unbelievably attractive woman,” too. Several times. Could not figure out what the problem was until you spelled it out.

    Reading that sentence is almost like a psychological test, isn’t it?

  208. I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman is gay. That being said, I had a crush on him for a while as well.

    And then there’s John Cusak.
    And James Spader
    And, complete cliche I know, Johnny Depp
    And Parker Posey for my girl crush
    And Ira Glass for my radio crush.

  209. I’ve been reading fat acceptance blogs for a while now, even though I am only a size eight. What you are saying is important to ALL of us! I am learning through your example not to hate my cellulite, my belly, my crow’s feet. Thank you all so much.
    With regard to guys and slenderness: yes, as a slim woman, I got more offers (when I was single)than my fat sister. But remember that men for whom body shape is the deciding factor tend to be creeps in other ways, too. So I weeded though a LOT of creeps before I learned how to spot them.
    Again, thanks for writing this blog.

  210. I have such a crush on Paul Simon. I never did until I saw him in concert – there he was, a very average sized guy, wearing a baseball cap over thinning hair, not a Hollywood movie star type, but oh mah gah could that man PERFORM. Just watching him singing and playing the guitar made me want to have his children. He’s not a bad looking guy but my attraction to him has little to do with his appearance. The way he carries himself and the inflections of his voice and his passion while singing, well…I need to go fan myself for a while.

  211. Hunh, well, I guess as a man I fail the troll and evolutionary biology test for normalcy..twice, because I have always had a tendency to be attracted to, at the very least, plump women, even at the times when super-thin girls/women were showing an extreme amount of interest in me..as a chubby or even bearish guy.

    My other failing grade is the fact that I’m also frequently attracted to much older women and have been my whole life: in my twenties I already thought women in their 40s and 50s were incredibly sexy. Much of that reason has to do with many women becoming a little more ‘solid’ as they age. Guess I’m a double freak, supposedly.

  212. I wish it were easier to maintain a belief in my own attractiveness without a dating history to back it up.

    You know that disorder (the name of which I, embarrassingly, can’t remember and which I am too lazy to look up right now) that causes some women to look in the mirror and see their bodies distorted? (Body dismorphic disorder? Is that it?) They look at their reflections and see themselves as less attractive than they really are.

    For a long time, I was afraid that I had a disorder like that, but *in reverse.* Because I would look in the mirror and, most days, would like what I saw. I have a vibrant fashion sense. I like (most of) my curves. (I’m working on liking the remaining ones). I smile a lot. (It’s a dorky smile, but I came by it honestly!)

    But I worried that I must be deceiving myself in some way, because at times it seemed like everyone else, my family included, was in total agreement: You’re homely and you’re fat and unless you change, no one’s going to love you. (Possibly, though not necessarily, us included).

    I’m aware how wrong that view is – thanks in no small part to bold and articulate people like Kate, who think otherwise and speak their minds – and I understand that I’ve been on the receiving end of slurs that were presented to me as the Facts of Life, but were, in fact, manifestations of the sometimes-desperate insecurities felt by the ones who spoke them. All the same, I’m also 27, have never been kissed, and, in fact, have never been asked on a date. (Though I was once asked to wrestle a guy – whatever that meant in context…) None of that proves anything about my worth as a person or my suitability as a partner. But I wish I were always strong enough to be able to face the ridicule without a list of people to point to: These People Found Me Attractive, dammit!

  213. I just want to say, I have had the same conversation about Prince, several times. And while I get what you’re saying about attraction being subjective (I do!), I think Prince is hands-down, no-denying-it, its-as-simple-as-that hot. In his tiny freaked out way. Even people who aren’t personally attracted to him, I think, can recognize he oozes sex and confidence. Rrrow!

  214. Very late to this post, but I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you so very much for this.

    When I was 22, I overheard a co-worker tell the rest of our group that I was so ugly that he couldn’t bear to look at my face for more than 30 seconds. And there were people who agreed with him. That stuck with me for a long, long time, and no matter how many people complimented me on my looks, my intelligence, my wit, sense of humour, what-fucking-ever, I could never believe them. Because I was the girl who was too ugly for anyone to even look at.

    Three years after this incident, I met a man who couldn’t bear to make love to me unless he could see my face the whole time. (Sorry for the TMI, but this meant no lights off, no doggy style.) And guess what, this was the time I weighed the most I ever had my entire life.

    I know believing in oneself should come from the inside, regardless of outside validation. But that man helped me finally realise that yes, goddammit, I am good enough. And this post further reinforced that epiphany: if someone found me that attractive, there will be other someones too, and why should I care about those who think otherwise? So thank you so very, very much.

    For the record, I also missed the second “un” and there are very few moments where Brad Pitt cranks my engine.

  215. This kind of behavior always amazes me. The people who spend their days cutting others down.

    That and the myths about fat women being sad and single.

    Not to toot my own horn but I’m pretty much “obese” and I’m never had trouble getting a date. I’m dating someone closer to my weight at the moment but I often end up dating more fit men.

    I’m got a list many women would drool over I thing. A 6’4″ life gaurd, Guy getting a PhD in Mathematics, Biology Masters student who was a forest firefighter in the summers.

    I get approached pretty often for dates by the type of people I actually want to date. I will occasionally meet someone who likes me but thinks I’d “be a lot cuter skinny”. I rarely deal with rude men and I’ll give them a piece of my mind when I do.

    I wasn’t always so happy but changing the way I look at myself has changed my life. I’m healthier and more confident even if I’m fat. I exercise more than most fo my skinny friends and it’s easy because i want to. Not to look a certain way for someone else but to feel healthy for me. Its a good feeling and I have to admit it is fun being the at girl on a bicycle that passes the guy in the lycra.

  216. My It’s Complicated and I were discussing the Doritos Check Out Girl commercial the other day:

    Him: I think it’s very fat-negative. It portrays her getting with an ugly guy.
    Me: It portrays her as confident, natural, vibrant, sexual and free of societal confines. I also think he’s very attractive.
    Him: Our standards of attractiveness obviously vary greatly. I guess next time I want to seduce you I’ll grow muttonchops.
    Me: I don’t think it’s in your best interest to tease me for finding non-conventionally handsome men attractive.

    That shut him up but good.

  217. LOL i read the inital post as “dear Kate you are an unbelivably attractive woman-signed every straight man with a pair of eyes”
    now why might that be.. because my misreading is true?

  218. I also initially read it as “attractive” rather than “unattractive,” and had to go back like twice to see why Kate was upset about the comment. Weird how our brains do that.

    This reminds me of a friend of mine who was dating a really hot guy (i refer to him as hot because almost everyone in our group of friends saw thim that way. this doesn’t mean he’s everyone’s cup of tea) who would often make her feel like crap by trying to figure out what was “wrong” with himself. Why did he think something was wrong? Because he was attracted to her. And his “common sense” told him he shouldn’t be. Yes that’s right: “What is my psychological damage that I would actually enjoy sleeping with someone who looks like you?” Ouch.

    And it took her about two years of this before she could work up the confidence to break up with him, because she always said she was afraid she would never “get anyone as hot as him” again. The idea that someone who was both attractive AND nice could actually be interested in someone like her was a completely foreign concept to both of them, and it made me facepalm. Hard. Repeatedly.

  219. I am fairly skinny… and I have been a professional proofreader for over a decade… and I read that as “unbelievably attractive.”

    Kate Harding, you are fabulous.

    This blog makes me love the species way more than I usually do. Even the me part of the species!

  220. *offers Kate one of her prizewinning home-made cookies that she only makes on special occasions and only gives to people she thinks are groovy*

  221. In my opinion I think these snot nosed sewer dwellers need a reality check. Since when have conventally attractive women been immune to the same relationship problems as us fatties? It is a rarity nowadays that you don’t find a supermodel who hasn’t gone through a series of bad relationships and or marriages. Being skinny does not guarantee your spouse will not cheat on you.

    Just because someone doesn’t tickle your fancy doesn’t give you the right to be an asshole. Nor does it mean that eveyone else down the line is going to agree with your personal prefferences. It is pretty darn narcissic and arrogant to assume that all of our partners are in denial and want other women.

    As for my hubby, he gets women chasing after him and hitting on him all the time, sometimes right in feont of me. I don’t care because I know he only wants to be with me and he says I am sexy and beautifull every day. And I don’t have cottage cheese thighs either so the moron who thinks he knows everything can stuff it.

  222. Like skinny women don’t have relationship problems? Show me a hot supermodel or actress and I’ll show you a series of bad relationships and marriages. Being “perfect” certainly doesn’t guarantee that your partner won’t cheat on you.

    I think that the snot nose sewer dwelling troll needs a reality check because my husband gets women after him all the time. They give me dirty looks “What is HE doing with HER ?” and they think I don’t notice when they try to be all subtle and flirt with him right in front of me. It used to piss me off but my hubby says he doesn’t want anything to do with them and only wants me. He tells me I’m beautifull or sexy everyday.
    But I guess my hubby is just in denial. lol.

  223. Whops sorry for the double post fellow shapelings. My computer was acting up and I thoought my first post didn’t go through.

  224. People who think they speak for everyone are pathologically egocentric. That this man believes he speaks for “every straight man with a set of eyes” indicates a level of delusion compatible with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. From the “closeted” remark, it’s obvious he’s also struggling with unwanted homosexual desires. I don’t like that he insulted you, however, I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.

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