In “Fat Sex: The Naked Truth,” Rebecca Jane Weinstein investigates our culture’s fascination with sex and weight beyond the regularly-reinforced myths and popular prejudices. Here's an excerpt.
Excerpt from the Prologue
“No man will ever love you,” proclaimed my grandmother in her self-assessed infinite wisdom. I was nine or ten – old enough to know exactly what she was talking about, and young enough that I believed her. Thirty-five years later, in the kind of therapy they do for veterans of war, I understood that she wasn’t entirely right. But, she wasn’t entirely wrong. Of course, as any therapy veteran would know, right or wrong, it was not about a man’s love for me, but “my love for myself.” I’ll get right on that.
There is subtle and overt hostility toward fat in just about every arena of life. There is a war against it, after all. I suspect if we lose that war, the terrorists win. It is not clear who the terrorists are in this case, there seem to be many cells: the Happy Meal; high fructose corn syrup; school lunches; overwork; under-work; recess; television; the Internet; video games; eating disorders; poverty; urban sprawl; microwaving Tupperware; lack of breastfeeding; the ratio of calories consumed to calories expended; bariatric surgery; the aversion to anal leakage. Mostly, the lazy fat slobs that just lie around eating chicken wings all day and don’t get off their giant arses. Whoever they are.
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So, okay, even if it appears our culture believes fat people are gross, the people living in our culture are, well, doing them. And it’s not just that fat people “let themselves go” after marriage, so post nuptials we are condemned to sex with a fatso. Actually, secretly, or perhaps not so secretly, a lot of people desire sex with the not-so-svelte. There is much evidence of this – procreation for one – but the most powerful is the sex industry. No one knows how many sexually related Internet sites there are (estimates range from one percent to 85 percent of the World Wide Web is made up of sexually explicit material), and no one knows how many sexually related Internet sites there are that feature large women, but let’s say it’s safe to estimate it at: a lot.
At around the age of 15, during a time in history in between girdles and Spanx, I wore a bathing suit under my dress. The first time I seriously made out with a boy (park bench, East Village, way past curfew; you know who you are), he asked me if I was going swimming. A perfectly reasonable question, considering. I thought he said: “You’re fat.” My mistake. Two of us girls had a thing for him, and he picked me. It didn’t occur to me that, fat or not, if he picked me, I was the one he wanted.
But really, how could I know? Reality had very little to do with my perception of reality. That, it seems, is a common problem.
Most of us have heard the true tale of Barbie, that if she were a real woman, she would be 7 feet tall, weigh 100 pounds, have 33 inch hips, wear a size 4 dress, a 39FF bra, and size 5 shoes. There are variations on these calculations. Some less reactionary types say she would only be 6 feet tall and would weigh 110 pounds. Everyone agrees, though, that she would have super big boobs. Whatever the precise dimensions, she would be somewhere between unusual and disturbing. It is virtually inconceivable that an actual human could achieve her form without tremendous “luck” and extensive surgery.
If you haven’t heard about how fat Americans are, you must be in al-Qaeda (though they probably know, too). Researchers say that more than 30 percent of American adults are overweight, and another 30 percent are obese. This is according to the very unreliable BMI (Body Mass Index) measurement. Nonetheless, a lot of American adults are fat. A lot of American children are fat too, apparently. They also say one out of three American children are overweight or obese. The First Lady has made it her mission to fight the war against obesity in children. Athletes and actors, pop stars, chefs, politicians on both sides of the aisle, fast food producers, schools, and kids themselves, have jumped on the anti-fat-children bandwagon. From cooking classes to flash mobs, to legislation and prohibition, the country is fighting the battle of the bulge on every front. Some of this is couched in sensitivity and some is overtly humiliating. All of it is, thus far, fruitless (no pun intended). Upwards of 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and a large number of these fat folks feel shame and humiliation about their size.
Then we have the urban legend telling us men think about sex every seven seconds, and women think about sex almost as much as men. If there are two things humans have on their minds, it’s fat and sex. Fat and sex may cohabitate, but they have a volatile relationship.
I could go on and on about the trials and tribulations of being fat, the bigotry and prejudice, the notion that fat people are the last group it is socially acceptable to mock, the research on sexual dissatisfaction and dysfunction, the conventional wisdom that fat people are sexually undesirable and undesired, the countless jokes at the expense of “fat chicks.” But that is not what this book is about. This book is about fat sex from a different perspective.
Yes, some of the stories will portray a sad reality, and some will portray sexual life experiences most of us will only know in our wildest dreams. But all will portray the reality of fat sex. Not the narrow-minded, bigoted, stilted story of the lonely and isolated fat person who never gets any. But the reality of what 60 to 75 percent of Americans – most of whom do have sex – experience. Some may find this notion disgusting. Those who do probably could use some therapy themselves. Most will just relate, on some level or another, and whether secretly or not, like it. Because when it comes down to it, Barbie can’t stand up, and the average guy doesn’t look like Ken (which is for the best, since he has no genitals).
There is another urban legend: fat women are better in bed. I have heard various explanations for this phenomenon. It is most likely perpetuated by those who are just more attracted to large people, and therefore, to them, fat women are better in bed. As stereotypes about fat people go, it’s one of the more flattering ones. I choose to believe it; but then again, it serves me. You know, fat women are better in bed.
Excerpted from Fat Sex: The Naked Truth by Rebecca Jane Weinstein. Copyright © 2012 by Rebecca Jane Weinstein. Excerpted by permission of www.FatSexTheBook.com. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive