you’re the one for me, fatty <3

With subculture events in existence to cover all sorts of things, it’s really not surprising that my attention has been drawn to events focused on fat people. Of course, most of them would not say “we love fat people”,because the word “fat” is still too charged for so bold a statement, but in various euphemistic terms- “celebrate your curves”, the “beauty of size”, etc, they say “yes, you’re fat, and that’s sexy too”. Ok, cool. I like that. I don’t see why I should have to celebrate all the time (seriously, most of these sites/events, somewhere in their text, they’ll say that they celebrate something about being fat. Do we get balloons?) but I appreciate that people are trying to acknowledge that fat people can be sexually desirable beings with sexualities of their own.

Oh wait, sorry, did I say people? I mean women, of course. These are almost always parties to say how sexy fat women are. Look at the above banner for one such party- mostly fat women, the occasional slender man. Fat men are not visible, except, perhaps, as admirers of fat women. And may I note that this is a fucking drawing, so it’s not like they can use the excuse “we couldn’t find a model”.

No, for finding positive, sexualized depictions of fat men you’d have to go to the gay community, where bears, like the Bearlesque troupe seen here, take up a comfortable sexual space of their own. Gay fat men have claimed some autonomy. Straight fat male bodies, like straight male bodies in general, are not here to be looked at, but to be the ones looking, objectifying, fetishizing, in this world of “sex positivity” and body size. Nothing new there, then.

Argh. No wonder my boy is constantly paranoid about his sexual value.

But at least  “plus sized” parties exist- there’s not many, but they’re there- and I do appreciate that most of them aren’t seen as fetish events, either, which is good. Let’s face it though: Big Girls Paradise (home of the corseted “kittens” below), Goddess Parties, Full Figure Dolls, Heavenly Bodies- these are  And then, even as a woman, these events are rarely about being comfortable in your skin- maymay makes an excellent point about that in his own blog:

Two fat women in black skirts, corsets, and cat ears, stand smiling, a half-naked man in black trousers and a black bow tie kneeling between them.The following night at the SF Citadel was the inaugural Luscious party, billing itself as being the first BDSM party at the SF Citadel “to welcome people of all shapes.

Inexplicably, the theme of this first event was corsetry. Let me make this perfectly fucking clear: it’s awesome that people of all shapes and sizes can and do enjoy corsets, but the fact that the first party expressly welcoming “people of all shapes asks you to change your shape is just one more example of how deeply BDSM Scene power brokers have internalized and then re-express overculture oppressions, in this case equating hourglass figures to beauty.

When I posted about this in my blog, I got a comment protesting that the organizer of the Luscious party was not intending to fetishize the other. And I want to say now- I’m certainly not trying to pick on the Citadel here, because they’re a great space in many ways and I have mad respect for what they do. HOWEVER, just because I like a space and like what they do does not mean I can’t or shouldn’t critique it- and frankly, the Luscious party was just a current example of something that goes on all over the place.

I get it. I get the need to have a space where you feel safe, and often, you have to forge that space yourself. I started the Whippersnappers years back for 18-35 year olds and was accused of ageism- that was annoying, but in a way, it was true, and I felt strongly that it was needed anyway, ageist or not. I had to think a lot about why I felt a space that was for younger people was needed, why I felt it was justified, why it wasn’t enough to takeover other spaces with other younger people (and as I’ve gotten older, my politics on that have changed).

I also started the Ladies High Tea and Pornography Society, which is open to people who identify as ladies or feel ties to the women’s community. I was told that a woman-only space, even one where I was trying to be as inclusive of anyone with female energy, was sexist (and potentially non-inclusive of genderqueer/trans people). I’m still working out why I feel womens space is important- one thing I’ve experienced that informs why I keep it that way is that women behave very differently when watching porn around other women than when there’s a man in the room.  My response was to start work on a similar event- the Gentlemen’s Moustachioed Salon, where identity didn’t matter, but moustaches were required.

Then I started a queer friendly party in London. A year into throwing these events, we were told that one of the party themes was racist. I reeled. I felt betrayed, like here I was trying to make a party that addressed these issues in a city where that didn’t really happen, and I was getting shit for it? Unfair! But the more I read and educated myself, the more I realized they were *right*. There was a lot of institutionalized racism going on that we needed to look at and address in order to make the party better.

Was the feedback constructive? Yes, though not, always directly. Was it tactfully done? Not at all. But it had to be said, and I understand that sometimes when you feel yet ANOTHER space that’s trying to be a safe space is doing the same old bullshit that feeds into it not being safe? People get frustrated. I understand that. And it was the kick in the ass we needed to take a good hard look at what we were saying- not just in our words, but in how we expressed ourselves, in the images on our site, in the price of our tickets. If we were going to say we were inclusive, that we valued that, we needed to make sure we were walking the walk in ways that ranged from overt to very, very subtle. And we’re still learning.

In the case of Luscious, it’s awesome that someone decided to throw a party that went out of its way to say it was body inclusive. But the San Francisco scene should actually probably address why ALL its parties aren’t like that, rather than split into another voluntary ghetto. I don’t often go to the Citadel anymore, but the last couple of times I did I noticed that the images on the wall tended quite heavily to feature cisgendered slender to fit women, with the occasional token other. I think if they truly want to challenge the status quo, to be open and inviting, that would be a quick way to do it- hell, that could be a theme for one of their photography parties. Or I would be all for a takeover event, for example, to challenge these fat-phobic ideas, not in a special space, but in the general space that makes a special space seem safer. Does that make sense?

In other words, you don’t have to *mean* something negative while it still perpetuates negative consequences… often subtly. Most of these parties, as I clicked links and looked at party themes, talked about corsets, corsets, corsets. Corsets are sexy. I love wearing corsets. But I also am painfully aware that if you are a fat woman people will usually encourage you to wear a corset. They may not realize that they’re subtly saying “you’d look better as an hourglass” but that’s being said. Slender women are equally encouraged to try corsets to give them “womanly curves”. That’s not body positivity, people. Hell, I’m an hourglass naturally- but looked into shooting some porn for mainstream BBW magazine Voluptuous XL, and they told me that my breasts weren’t big enough to balance out my body. I have never in my LIFE wondered if my 36E tits were BIG enough!

A nude woman reclines on her back, her belly shadowing her pubis, which is out of frame, her breasts displaying pierced nipples

It’s more of the same- being a sexually appealing fat woman means fulfilling a stereotype, molding into the “right” shape for far women, just as being a dominant woman means wearing the fucking uniform. This is why I should go to female dominant clubs in a fucking bathrobe and bunny slippers and top the hell out of someone, to prove that a corset and heels are not magic items that allow me to do so. Plus I’d be comfortable. Isn’t comfort sexy?

I want to point out here that all this talk about “curves” as a euphemism for “fat” is seriously problematic, not only because it allows fat people who aren’t curvy to continue to be humiliated, particularly in the media, or because it erases fat men, butches, and other people for whom “curvy” isn’t a correct or desired term. No, I find it to be an issue because “curvy” in our society means something else. Jennifer Lopez is curvy. She’s not fat. If we called someone a “curve admirer” we’d probably mean that they prefer Kim Kardashian to Victoria Beckham. “Fat admirers” are called that for a reason.

An androgynous fat person in a yellow shirt, blue tie, and red long haired wig wits at a red table, licking hir's lips.
All of this is why I’m so fucking glad things like this event, Burger Queen out in London, exist, because what Scottee is doing is punching back against this attitude that fat is bad:

Flick through any prime time TV spot and you’ll find a gluttonous array of programs designed to point and laugh at obesity – Britain Biggest Loser, Britain’s Fattest Man, Supersize VS Superskinny, Gok: Too Fat, Too Young – the list goes on but do these programs help solve the ‘obesity timebomb’ (Sunday Express) or have fatties become the modern freak show?

Scottee thinks its about time we had some healthy role models in chub culture and invites you to the very first Burger Queen contest.

Over 4 weeks Scottee is looking to crown Burger Queen 2011 – a beauty pageant for fat people and their friends. Each contestant will endure three rounds designed to find the perfect fatty to enter the final – these include Trend (fat fashion), Taste (your signature dish) and Talent (light entertainment for heavy weights) – the competition is open to chub admirers too, anyone of any size can enter – fat is a politic not a dress size!

“Healthy role models in chub culture” sums up EXACTLY what I’m talking about here. We need more Beth Dittos of all gender identities (and preferably not biphobic, please). And we may need to elect them ourselves.

A round woman's belly covered in drips of honey, one hand placed on the belly.
Just as an example: I was glad as anyone else when Lauren’s shirt in “Born This Way” (Glee episode when they all wear shirts declaring something they’re embarrassed about) said “Bad Attitude” and not something about her weight, or Mercedes’ shirt, which said “no weave”. But I shouldn’t have felt so scared that Glee was going to actively perpetuate fat bashing- and yet, it’s had some issues, never mind if look at the media buzz around “Mike and Molly“. Don’t get me started on the fact that “fat TV” is basically a genre now.

I think the way that Burger Queen is presented is what we need more of- irreverence and resistance. When Porn WikiLeaks was trying to get me to shut up about their smear campaign, the worst thing they could think to say about me was that I was fat. It deflated them utterly when I shrugged and said “yeah, and?” We need to stop letting out bodies be used as weapons against us.

So this is a call to pudgy arms. Let’s show our bellies and stop worrying if we have a fucking muffin top over our jeans or if our thighs bulge out of shorts. Let’s throw away uncomfortable, chafing “body shaping” tights and embrace sitting around naked. And let “fatty” become the “mary” or “molly” of our times.

Kitty Stryker

Kitty Stryker is a geeky sex worker, Burner, rabid writer and feminist activist with one high-heeled boot in San Francisco, California and one in London, England. In London, Stryker worked with the TLC Trust, an online organization connecting people with disabilities with sex workers experienced with emotional or physical limitations. She is the founder of the award-winning Ladies High Tea and Pornography Society, and was nominated by the Erotic Awards as Sex Worker of the Year for her charity and activism work. Now back in the States, Stryker has been presenting Safe/Ward, a workshop on combating entitlement culture within alternative sexual communities, along with being the PR rep for the Bay Area Sex Workers Outreach Project promoting sex worker rights. She has written for Huffington Post, Filament, and Tits and Sass, built a social media strategy for Cleis Press, and consults with sex workers about their online presence. In her copious free time, she enjoys switching things up with her two hot lovers. Read more from Stryker on her personal blog, Purrversatility.

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