I’d love to see more discussion about the “how to get past the virulent message that fat people cannot have sex until they become suitably thin” part. I’m stuck there. I’ve been stuck there for-fucking-ever (pardon the pun) and I suspect I’m not alone. The caveat is the discussion cannot be more of the bullshit magical thinking “Just be confident!” crap that seems to be the only thing ever said about this.
I have yet to see a FA writer who talks about this part of the process in any way that feels similar to my experience of it. Most FA activists seem to have always been having sex, have never experienced the paralyzing pain of hitting this block and finding no way around it. It’s a part of the conversation about fat sex that’s missing. Everyone wants to skip past the hard shit of “everyone you’ve ever known has reminded you that you’re fat and therefore are not allowed to have sex or feel sexy yet somehow everyone expects you to have sex with SOMEONE” and get into mechanics/psychology for people who are already having sex (even if in some cases it’s not terribly healthy sex).
This isn’t a comprehensive answer, but for me, it was a non-intuitive piece of the puzzle.
One day, I posted a picture of me (just a regular face shot — I’d probably gotten a haircut or whatever) on livejournal. Somebody paid me a complement. I did my usual humble-I-thought dismissal.
But then the person got really mad. And like, not because I was being down on myself. They got mad because I had disrespected them.
What they said to me was really important, and it was this: When I dismiss their compliment, I’m saying that I don’t respect their judgment. And by so quickly and casually dismissing it, I’m relegating my estimation of their judgment to the lowest of the low, worth far too little to even evaluate.
They didn’t put it exactly that way, but it drove a point home. I’ve always paid lip service to being a relativist. I believe strongly that different people are beautiful to different people, and that there’s no one objective standard of beauty. And like most of us, I was conscious that I apply that to other people but not equally or fairly to myself. But I dismissed this as behaviour that, while it would be healthy to overcome for my own mental wellness, harmed only me. Not so.
When I dismiss other people’s opinions, I’m devaluing them and devaluing their input.
I was so focused inward when it came to the issue, I was thinking selfishly and not looking outward to see how it affected others.
Ultimately, it’s about respect, and about trust. I may not see what others see in me, and that’s not what I’m talking about here: I agree that it’s difficult or maybe impossible to just magically love yourself (and I don’t believe that you have to love yourself first before anybody else can love you — in fact, that’s a trivially disproven myth). What I’m talking about is respecting other people’s judgment and trusting in them to make those decisions for themselves. If someone sees something attractive or beautiful in me, even if I don’t see it, I need to have the respect for that person to trust that they see it, for themselves, and that they’re an adult who can make that decision for themselves.
If somebody thinks I’m attractive or beautiful, then that’s a decision they made for themselves based on their own perceptions of me, and that’s just as valid for them as my self-perceptions are for me, and imposing my opinions on them or thinking that they’ve had blinders on or once they see me naked they’ll think otherwise or any of those things is disrespecting their freedom and ability to make decisions for themselves, and it’s mean to them and wrong.
I’ve fallen back into the dismissive thinking, so it was good to see this post and get a reminder of that incident. The retraining doesn’t always “stick”, but I’m working on it, and I think I needed to have a kick in the butt in this regard.
so important. any time i imply to my partner that their standards are low for being with me or that i’m not “actually” attractive i’m being super disrespectful to them. it’s hard to remember that because it usually seems like the primary imperative is to make them understand why they’re making a mistake by being with me.