Chubby Chasers, Fat Admirers, & Perceptions

I had an opportunity to read an interesting article today from Joshua David called “The Myth Of The Chubby Chaser”

It’s not an incredibly long article, so I’ll post it here.

Some people prefer to fuck thin people. Some people prefer to fuck fat people. Many other people place no importance on the size of the people that they fuck. All of these are valid choices, but we only pretend that one is abnormal. Chubby chasing is bullshit.

Of course, as stated above, there are plenty of people that have a preference for larger people. There may be a physical reason, a chemical reason, a societal reason or a psychological reason for that preference. The important thing is that the reasoning behind said preference is entirely immaterial. Chubby chasing as a concept is steeped in the idea of othering fat people, especially fat women.

I’m going to get heteronormative here and talk almost exclusively about chubby chasing as it pertains to men dating women. This is primarily because as a cishet white guy, I want to keep this to my lived experience and avoid speaking for people that already have enough people trying to speak for them. Full disclosure: I am a fat man and I’ve dated women of all sizes.

Fat people (in particular fat women) have been deemed unacceptable by the cultural zeitgeist. As such, a fat person dating – having the audacity to imagine themselves as attractive to a person to whom they are also attracted – is considered an offense to the that same cultural zeitgeist. There’s tremendous pressure for fat people to be either apologetic or defiant for their size at the same time that they’re meaning to find a partner, for sex or love or anything else.

There’s not a thing wrong with being fat and proud; I make no apologies for my size and no one else should, thin or fat. The issue is that thin people aren’t asked to apologize for their size* on anything resembling a regular basis, and pride and fat are considered mutually exclusive, particularly in the dating realm. While fat-shaming of men is a very real and problematic thing, the most virulent fat hatred is reserved for women that dare to find themselves desirable while straying outside a social standard that is defined so narrowly that supermodels are deemed to be in violation.

The idea of chubby chasing appears on its face to be an attempt to stigmatize men who have a preference that falls outside the accepted norm, and in many ways it is. A man who shows an interest in a fat woman is not expressing a personal preference but committing an unpardonable transgression against manhood and decency and is accordingly branded.

But chubby chasing as a concept isn’t really aimed at men. It’s one more method of stigmatizing fat women for existing and framing that existence as both morally wrong and entirely disposable. Fat women are simultaneously viewed as unattractive and as easy, a sort of booby prize when an acceptable woman is unavailable. Dehumanization and is the norm and it’s used as a weapon.

Then there’s the flip side. With marginalization comes exoticism and fetishism; men project their own ideas of what a fat woman is and should be. Fat women are treated as nothing more than a vessel for validation – it’s not uncommon to see fat women talked about as though they “appreciate it more.” It’s a preconception fueled by a fundamental view of fat women as lesser, as lucky to be receiving the attention of a man that views her as below his station. It’s not rare for a man to be legitimately surprised to find that a “big girl” would draw attention out of proportion with her attractiveness, as perceived by him.

The idea that we should respect everyone’s basic humanity and that our attractions are shaped by something outside ourselves usually sets off (to be kind) a strong defensive reaction. There’s nothing immoral about preferring to date slender people, but check out the comments on any article even discussing fat-shaming as a general concept and the hostility and derailment is intense. Fatphobia is so pervasive that even an article whose main thrust is “fat people are people too” is instantly set upon by fatphobes.

Of course, there are trolls everywhere, but trolls aren’t created in a vacuum. They often mirror prevailing (if unstated) cultural biases and attitudes. The idea that our judgment of people is based on a criteria that has no real definition and bears no indication of a person’s inherent worth is very threatening to those who base their assessments of other people – and often themselves – on such an arbitrary measure as weight.

Chubby chasing is a term firmly grounded in the language of dehumanization and dedicated to the further marginalization of fat people, most especially fat women. While the concept deserves derision and dismissal, it’s important to engage and break down the parts of our language (and there are many) that exist as a method to maintain power structures. We’re all just people that are attracted to other people. Chubby chasing is bullshit.

*Yes, thin-shaming is a thing. No, it’s not what we’re talking about here.

The terms “chubby chaser” and “fat admirer” are virtually interchangeable, and carry the same public perceptions that Mr. David noted in his writing.  In other words, the outside world views guys like Mr. David and me as people who accept “less than” what others value.  We’re considered fetishists in some ways, similar to those who will only date “little people”, or amputees.  After all, no one in their right min would want a fat woman, right?

Mr. David’s article is spot on about how the “outside world” perceives the chubby chaser or the fat admirer (many of you have read my previous blogs about why I dislike these terms, for many more reasons than Mr. David noted).  What about those people who are on the inside?  What about those people who are in the fat community?

Let’s start with the general perception of FAs by many women in the social part of the fat community.  From another forum that I participate in on occasion:

There should be one half of the site that is dedicated to smutty conversation/photos and all the stuff that comes with it, and then the other half be for people who genuinely just want to have a chat or meet new people, WITHOUT all the “ooh send me a photo”-isms and sex talk. I’m starting to think that the site is just full of freaks/fetishists and horny mofo’s who are looking for a quick sext or skype wank. 

I understand that “those” sorts of people would be attracted to a site like this as BBWs are often (and probably only) seen as sexual objects, but there are some of us out there who didn’t join up for that reason. It’s not a sex site (As far as I know), it’s first and foremost a community, so I don’t see why it always has to turn towards perverted crap.

Now granted , this also happens a lot on other social media type forums and sites that are not fat related.  I’ve been on many of those over the years however, and have not seen the level of douchebaggery that I witness on what are often referred to as BBW sites.  The woman commenter above hit the nail on the head when she says that she’s only treated as a sex object on these kind of sites.  Of course there are honest guys who show up to engage in quality discussion with the opposite gender, but they often leave disappointed, as they’re met with cynicism and a wall that they’ll never get through no matter how hard they try, because they often get lumped in with the sex trolls.  I fell into that category for a long time, and I realized that internet life as someone who was attracted to fat women would continue to be frustrating, and that I was better off abandoning it for the greener pastures of actually meeting someone in real life.

While that sums up the perception of most of the men in the social part of the fat community, I reflected long and hard on how I was treated by those women who are important to fat activism.

Little of what I write is actually read by the fat activists.  I think a guy who comes from the social part of the fat community (the “home” of the fat fetishist) who writes about fat issues, but isn’t fat has a long way to go to catch the attention of the many fat feminist bloggers and activists.  I’ve been blogging for well over 4 years now, and with few exceptions, most of the FA/SA bloggers could care less about what I write.  Understanding the reasons why has caused me to be at peace with that, mostly because 1.  I can’t change it, and 2. I think their reasons for feeling that way are quite valid.  What also helps is that I don’t write for their approval.  Ive said some things contrary to the “fat agenda” over the years, and been admonished for it, but the underlying goal for most of my blogs is to write so that people on both the inside & outside of the fat community can understand what I think is going on.

So while I’m often viewed in a suspect manner by the insiders, I continue to write so that outsiders can develop a sense of understanding as well.  Winning size/fat acceptance can come in large numbers, but can also come one person at a time.  A few weeks ago, a close friend of mine posted one of my blogs on his Facebook page, and commented that through our friendship, he’d come to understand what fat people go through on a daily basis, and vowed to learn more about fat hate & bias.  To me acknowledging that it exists is the first step towards ending it.  Sometimes, when enough people take those first steps, big things happen.

first stepSo, you folks on the inside can continue to wait to see if the other shoe will drop.  Trust me, it won’t.  You may not like everything I have to say, but I’m still on your side.  It’s much like a dysfunctional family that fights all the time, but when one of them gets attacked, the rest of the family will rush to their side to help defend them.

And I do my best to clobber the sex fetishists and trolls who make it that much harder for us to work together.  Call them chubby chasers or fat admirers, but they aren’t part of that family that I’m talking about….


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