Ashleigh Shackelford’s article “Dating While Fat: 5 Things I Consider Before Commitment” is excellent. The dominant mainstream narratives about fat people are dehumanizing, discriminatory, and damaging. They are also false. They profoundly malign and shame fat people (and, to a lesser degree, by association, those who love them) and the effects of these narratives are incredibly widespread and pervasive. People make micro-aggressive (and macro-aggressive) comments to and about fat people all the time. Discriminating against fat people is actively condoned in all sorts of ways in all sorts of places, from who people date to who people hire for jobs. It’s utterly horrible.
I am appreciative of those people who are doing the incredible labor of sharing their personal stories so that other narratives may exist, yet it is awful that this work has to happen at all. Over and over and over again, people in oppressed groups have to keep sharing their stories and giving step-by-step instructions to people who are not in that group of people so that (maybe, hopefully) people will be a little less abusive, discriminatory, hostile, dehumanizing, uneducated, ignorant, thoughtless, clueless. (Imma pause here to give a shout out to the Muslim community who are dealing with so much of that right now.) It breaks my heart that this work is needed.
I hope that someday, people won’t have to work so hard to have their humanity recognized and respected. I hope someday that is easy and obvious.
In the meantime, here’s a personal account from the perspective of a fat black queer femme, discussing dating. It’s a worthy read. Good modeling of self-care and self-love and a good set of questions for those of us who are not fat to ask ourselves and to really sit with awhile. If the answers to these questions are no, why not? What beliefs do you have installed in your brain that might be worth examining critically? Where did those beliefs come from? What would need to happen for this to change?