Confessions From The Fattest Person At The Sex Party

I am used to being the fattest person in the room. So used to it I hardly notice, most of the time.

I am 5’6”, something like 300 lbs, a size 28 in pants, a 3 or 4x in dresses and honestly the only thing the size of my body has stopped me from doing recently is riding a few rides at the fair, and honestly they could have had longer seatbelts. I am the fattest person in most rooms I’m ever in and I am generally unwilling to let that keep me from doing anything at all.

Because of the life I live, from time to time I find myself mostly naked at a party full of variously undressed and variously intimately involved people I love and I feel very aware of the size of my body.

I am used to being the fattest person in the room, but I haven’t totally figured out how to handle being the fattest person at the play party.

The first time I went to a play party, I went by myself. This probably wasn’t the best decision I could have made. General sex party tip: the buddy system can be super helpful. It was a bigger party and I wandered around alone, saying hi to people I knew but not able to engage with anyone past my own anxiety. People got less and less clothed and more and more intimate and I tugged the hem of my short, tight dress downwards and wondered what the hell I was even doing there. My brain hyperfocused on thin people who I perceived as carefree in that space and, tucked into a corner by myself, I started to cry. I left abruptly, saying goodbye to no one, wondering if that kind of beautiful, free space was something only thin people get to have.

For a while after that I only went to play parties if I had someone to go with and only played with people I had existing connections with. I noticed that when other fat people were around, they seemed to be doing the same thing. Now, I don’t really know that thin people are just freely asking one another to play and I know there’s a lot more going on than what I see, but here’s how it often looks: off to the sides and in the corners, fat people engage in scheduled, planned play, while in the center thinner (and whiter, and more passing) people are gleefully naked and play in beautiful, freeform ways. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some amazing times in the corner doing what I had planned to do with the people I planned to do it with, but I always felt jealous of the freedom I read in the movements of thin people in such spaces.

Fast forward a while and I find myself sitting in the corner of a couch, the room drenched in turquoise and pink light as a pair of beautiful humans nearby delight in kissing and exploration. Smaller parties, parties mostly full of people I know, have proven to be much more comfortable for me. At these smaller parties I feel more confident that my presence isn’t accidental, that broadly speaking I am wanted. I can go to these alone in the same way I can go to a more “ordinary” party with friends alone. I have had perfectly unexpected and wonderful times at this sort of party alone. I have, on this particular evening, already had some really lovely time, and yet.

I’m sitting in the corner of this couch, in a room soaked in beautiful light, hearing and seeing people I care deeply for having beautiful, connected moments together. I breathe deeply, trying to soak in the beauty of the moment. And then that feeling, the one where I wish I could rip the fat off my body, the one that kept me up at night in my teens and early twenties scratching and pulling at my skin wishing to be rid of this “other” thing that was in between me and normal, me and happy*.

I am trying not to cry. I leave the room and find a friend who notices that I look a bit upset and we cuddle and talk for a while, until after the feeling has passed. There is such a blessing in that moment, something so healing about knowing that I could allow someone to hold some of my overwhelm for a bit. I lay with my friend and I say two things that now won’t leave me alone: 1) you’re all so beautiful, 2) I don’t like for people to see this. Days later I’m left with the truth of my experience and some realizations about what it means for me to be the fattest person at the sex party.

For me, being the fattest person at the sex party means I’m going to feel anxious and out of my body. A lifetime of being told — explicitly and implicitly, from all directions — that my body is unwantable means that the joyful occasion of getting to be naked and touchy with other people is always going to be a bit scary. Add to that a room full of thin people and, well, some sort of centering ritual on these evenings would probably serve me well. If this were an advice column I’d probably tell you something about how it’s important for everyone to have ways to reconnect to themselves during play parties, but this isn’t advice, it’s a confession, so we’re moving on.

Confronted with a room full of beautiful, compassionate people my brain understands as thin, what I know is that I have no idea how to ask for what I want. Not only “I don’t know how to ask” but “I don’t feel like I’m allowed to.” My best experiences at play parties have been times when I could just say yes to other people’s wants, stating my own feels like asking for rejection. It doesn’t matter how hot I think I am (generally, I think I’m really hot), if all I can see is thin people, my brain goes directly to my multiply conscious view of my body “as the world sees it.” In all sorts of circumstances I feel and hear from other fat people that they feel fear of initiating. Used to seeing ourselves portrayed as fat and creepy or fat and desperate, asking becomes fraught.

I become reserved, cautious. Sure, I want things, but why would I believe that I can have them? Do these people even know how to navigate around my body? Would they want to? Are they disgusted but too polite, too “enlightened” to ever say so? Everyone is so beautiful, why would they ever say yes to me? If they said yes, would it be out of pity? Everyone is so beautiful. Why am I even here?

Fat people and the fear of initiating is likely a whole essay in itself, but here is where I’m left: sitting off to the side, wanting to be invited in. I don’t know what to do with this. I don’t know how to reorient my brain or reconfigure community norms to feel more welcoming. I know not every party will be the best, but I also know that feeling terrified about my body doesn’t need to be part of every experience.

I gave up the fantasy of being thin years ago. I am trying to live my best life right now. I want all of the joy and connection I see is possible in this space. I want all the weird, holy, messy, beauty that I witness. I want this, I think I deserve this, but I am scared.

I am the fattest person at the sex party, and I’m scared that my body is a barrier.

* My friend Kiva Bay writes about this feeling and its roots in a piece on Fat Abjection that was honestly revelatory for me.

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