What Does He See in Her?

[Content Note: Fat bias.]

I have never been body-shamed by a person I was dating.

None of my partners have ever made me feel like I should be ashamed of my body; none of them have suggested I lose weight; none of them have ever shown me the slightest hint of being anything less than content with my body, nor implied that I should be anything less than content myself.

That makes me a very lucky fat woman indeed. A lucky woman, full-stop.

Despite this good fortune, my fatness has still been Cause for Concern in my relationships. Or, rather, outside my relationships.

I have been partnered with men who were nervous to introduce me to their friends—not because they were ashamed of me, but because they were ashamed of their friends, who they had heard fat-shame women for years. Because they were afraid their friends would fat-shame me, would embarrass themselves and hurt me.

I have had to tell them, "You let me worry about that. You can't protect me from a world that hates my body."

I have been partnered with men whose parents expressed concern to them—never to me; never is anyone brave enough to confront me directly—that my fat will reflect poorly on their sons. That my fat is contagious, will make them fat or has made them fat.

I have been partnered with men whose coworkers and bosses make sneering comments about fat people, about fat women. Whose faces burn red as comments about fat women are made feet away from my picture on a desk.

I have been partnered with men who don't know what to do when a car full of young men screams profanity-laced tirades about my fatness out of passing car windows. Or, sometimes, directs their ire at the man by my side.

Iain is keenly aware of the judgments made against me for my body, made against him for being with me. Judgments made by other people. He knows, as well as I do, that the fact my body is not an issue inside our relationship doesn't mean it isn't an issue at all.

It's just not an issue between us.

The truth about being a fat woman partnered with a man is that your partner can be the most loving, supportive, nonjudgmental, enthusiastic partner it is possible to be, but that doesn't stop other people from policing the fuck out of your relationship.

It doesn't stop the stereotypes, the criticisms, the reflexive conclusions about there being something "wrong" with your relationship, especially if your male partner is deemed to be "capable of getting someone better." It doesn't stop the comments, the jokes, the invasive inquiries about how fat people have sex.

It doesn't stop people talking about the things you never feel obliged to talk about yourself.

There never comes a time when anyone and everyone who looks at your relationship sees that it makes sense, because you are well-suited for one another, because you love each other, because you are happy and fulfilled.

I am soon to celebrate my 12th wedding anniversary with Iain, and, still, there are people in our lives, people who know us, who are perplexed by why he is with me. Why he has settled.

For this fat body. Which is all they see.

They don't see that I am accomplished, smart, funny. That there are lots of reasons for him to love me. That he is attracted to me, and I to him. That I love and respect and am proud of him. That we simply enjoy the hell out of each other.

My fat body renders all of that invisible. Irrelevant.

What does he see in her? they wonder. And they will never know, because they can't see past my fat.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus