Back when I was eighteen and a recovering bulimic, Kate Harding changed my life forever. Until I discovered the truly incredible (and now late lamented) blog Shapely Prose it had never really occurred to me that being fat might not be so bad after all or that BMI is a bit incomprehensible in practice or that dieting might actually be the devil. One of my favourite posts of hers is entitled The Fantasy of Being Thin, which puts into words something that I’d never managed to get a solid handle on before.

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Here’s the part where I come out as sleeping with the enemy: in the past year-and-a-quarter, I’ve lost coming on for 90lbs. I’m not going to go on about the hows and whys, because they don’t matter; I’m still in many ways the same person I was when Kate Harding changed my life. Part of the process, though, was that I’ve had to finally, finally let go of my own Fantasy of Being Thin - something that, perhaps ironically, I never managed to do before I started losing weight.

Now, I’m not thin - and I have no plans to be


I’m still very firmly inside the ‘overweight’ category, and my intention is to stay there. 90lbs is enough to have figured a lot of stuff out, though, and one thing I’ve realised is that there’s a sexual fantasy of being thin as well as the stuff Kate’s talking about. Here are a few excerpts from my own:

  • When I’ve lost weight, more people will fancy me
  • When I’ve lost weight, I won’t be self-conscious in bed
  • When I’ve lost weight, approaching people will be easier

The trouble with those things, of course, is that they’re bullshit. Even the ones that are true are bullshit, and here’s why.

 

When I’ve lost weight, more people will fancy me


Far be it from me to blow my own trumpet (hurr hurr) but I’ve always done alright by myself; I’ve never had a lot of trouble pulling, and a lack of people I can get up to deviant things with isn’t something I’ve ever much suffered. The amount of time since I was sixteen that there hasn’t been anyone at all I’m sleeping with or dating is about six months total.

So I don’t know why I used to worry about this. I suppose I’m just not good at dealing with rejection, or something. Still, though, I guess it’s true; I probably do get hit on more now than I did a year ago. I don’t mean in a street-harassment way, either; I actually get a lot less of that now, which isn’t what I would have expected.

What I never realised was that it would make me so goddamn suspicious.When people I’ve known for a while suddenly start chatting me up for the first time I’m immediately wrongfooted - is it because I’ve lost weight? Do they think I’m only good enough now? What if people used to think I looked terrible and are now breathing a sigh of relief because it’s finally okay to tell me that? Protip: it fucking isn’t. The only answer I have to “you look amazing now!” is “bitch, I always looked amazing”.

Maybe more people do fancy me now that I’m thinner. But if you wouldn’t have wanted me then, I probably don’t want you now. That might be unreasonable, but it does seem to be true.

 

When I’ve lost weight, I won’t be self-conscious in bed


If you’d asked me a year ago about my major bodily likes and insecurities, I would have answered you instantly with something like this: “I really hate my stomach and I’m quite self-conscious about having a round face that tends to the double chin. I’ve got good legs and a great rack.”

My answer now goes something like this: “I really hate my stomach and I’m quite self-conscious about having a round face that tends to the double chin. I’ve got good legs, and my boobs are alright though I wish I hadn’t lost so much of them. My waist is fucking amazing, mind you.”

Other than the fact that I now have a higher waist-to-hip ratio than Marilyn Monroe (I will never stop showing off about that) and I’m still not done mourning the former glory of my once astounding cleavage, not a whole lot has changed. I still hate my stomach, especially because of the post-weight-loss loose skin thing that means certain angles send me flying into a panic at the mere notion that someone might see what I look like in that position. I still point my face weirdly and try to find some way to cover my chin when I’m lying on my back.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m certainly better than I was, though there’s more to that than just the weight loss. I’m someone who gets quite self-conscious, though - both in bed and out of it - and being thinner isn’t a magic pill to fix that. It’s got a lot more to do with neuroticism than it does with numbers.

 

When I’ve lost weight, approaching people will be easier


The truth is, nobody is actually very good at flirting. I get questions about this to my column all the time - people wanting to know how to find their ideal partner, how to approach people they fancy at parties, what the magic words are that will make their love and sex lives suddenly click into place.

I always have to give those people the same advice. There are no magic words. There’s no way to guarantee something will work out. All you can do is keep trying, keep hoping, and keep trusting that things pop up from unexpected quarters.

I suppose I thought losing weight would help with this for two reasons: firstly because there would be a larger pool of people who would fancy me, and secondly because I’d be more confident in my own attractiveness. Both of those things have happened to a certain extent, but like I said earlier - it’s all a lot more complicated than pre-weight-loss me would have expected. Real life always is more complicated than our daydreaming selves want it to be, after all.

The problem with the Fantasy of Being Thin - sexual or otherwise - is that it’s just that: a fantasy. No matter which side of the spectrum you end up on, the misconceptions you’re carrying around with you about this simply aren’t true. You don’t need to fix your body to have a better sex life; you need to look at what’s inside your head. I can’t say this any better than Kate Harding did herself:
 

Quote

“Accepting my fat really wasn’t the hard part. Accepting my personality [...] was. But oddly enough, once I started to do that, my life became about a zillion times more satisfying. [...] The thin person inside me finally got out — it just turned out she was actually a fat person. A reasonably attractive, semi-outgoing fat person who has an open mind and an active imagination but also happens to really like routine and familiarity and quiet time alone. That was never who I expected to be — it was just always who I was.  [...] Who do you really want to be, and what are you going to do about it? The Fantasy of Being Thin is a really convenient excuse for not asking yourself those questions sincerely — and that’s exactly why it’s dangerous. It keeps you from being not only who you are, but who you actually could be, if you worked with what you’ve got. And that person trapped inside you really might be cooler than you are right now. She’s just not thin.”


Abi is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to genre fiction, social justice and M.A.C lipstick. Follow her on her website or @see_abi_write.

 


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I love dirty sluts and sex

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