I have a secret to tell you. It’s very important. Listen closely, because even though people have been saying this for a long, long time, society still doesn’t seem to get it. Maybe this will help clear up some confusion.
Fat people are having sex.
They’re having mind-blowing, pleasurable sex. Fat people are having sex in committed, long-term relationships, but also casually and without any strings attached. Fat people are having:
And the list goes on and on…
It’s also important to mention that my use of the word fat is not meant in a pejorative way, but one that comes from a place of empowerment and reclamation. “Fat” here includes anyone who identifies as fat, plus size, curvy, full-figured, and other similar identities.
Most conversations about fat people (not coming from actual fat folks ourselves) posit our sex lives as either nonexistent or just barely there, and if it is there, it’s very hush-hush. Thankfully, this rhetoric is slowly starting to change—with the upsurge of positive body image campaigns currently in the media, we’re able to have conversations surrounding body positivity that actually put fat people at the forefront of the discussion.
Take, for example, Tess Munster: the first size 22 model to ever be signed to an agency, and the creator of the #EffYourBeautyStandards campaign. (Check the hashtag out on Instagram and Tumblr!) And Tess isn’t the only one making revolutionary waves in the media—doing a quick search on Tumblr for fat positive, body positive, and sex positive blogs reveals that there are thousands of fat individuals. reclaiming their right to exist in the world and engage in sex on their own terms. Tess Munster and other women like her are perfect examples of the fact that representation matters—seeing other fat people in popular media and culture is empowering and helps us know that we are recognized and heard.
Seeing Tess Munster own her body in such a revolutionary way is refreshing and wonderful. However, it doesn’t erase the fact that there is still a stigma surrounding larger people, especially when it comes to sex and sexuality. The awful reality is that fat folks are maligned for simply existing in the world, even when sex isn’t a part of the conversation. Our society teaches people from a very young age that certain bodies are right and certain bodies are wrong: slim bodies are beautiful, and fat bodies are not. Fat people, especially fat women, are treated like objects and are often only allowed to exist if under someone else’s gaze. When sex and sexuality is added to the discussion, things only get worse—because fat folks are socialized to think our bodies are undesirable, owning our pleasure and our sexuality becomes that much harder. Essentially, the way our society sees it, fat sex only exists without any desire or pleasure. It’s just there—something that may happen every now and again in which fat folks are assumed to take a passive role.
Unfortunately, rewriting the sex and pleasure script as a fat person is no easy task. Speaking as a fat woman myself, it took me a very, very long time to get to a place of emphatic sex and body positivity. Moving from a place of shame and stigma to a place of empowerment was extremely difficult for me. Rejecting society’s beauty ideal was one thing, but working through intimate relationships where I was told my body was undesirable was the hardest part about my journey to loving my body. (Of course, those people who told me that I didn’t have a beautiful body were also influenced by our society’s beauty ideal and body norms—it’s such a vicious cycle.) Years of being told that my own body was too fat left me damaged and deeply terrified of entering into any further intimate relationships. Looking in the mirror, I didn’t like what I saw, and I didn’t think anyone else would either.
Everything changed when I discovered feminism and started getting heavily involved in sex and body positivity and activism. Finding a safe and accepting community of other women, where I felt comfortable enough to share my deepest emotions, was unbelievably powerful—I felt that I was finally being heard after countless years of being silenced. Through this women-centered, feminist empowerment, I gained confidence about my body and my sex life. I learned how to truly embody the mantra that all bodies are worthy and beautiful. I started to actively seek out intimate relationships instead of just letting them “happen” to me.
I’m proud to say that I now love my body unashamedly and without limits—the aspects of my body I once found most ugly I now find quite beautiful. My body is soft, curvy, and powerful, both within and outside of my sex life.
Sarah Hogg is a queer feminist activist in her final year at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She’s most passionate about reproductive justice, healthy sexuality, and body positivity. Feel free to get in touch with her @SarahLovely.