But it wasn’t just him. I had learned that I was undesirable to nearly anyone. Desire for a body like mine meant my partners were irrational, stupid, or resigned to settling for less than they wanted. In the years since college, I’d dated a wide range of people with few physical commonalities. Whatever their looks, I couldn’t trust their attraction. I shrank away from their touch, recoiling from their hands like hot iron. I turned down dates, believing their interest to be impossible or pathological. Any intimacy required vulnerability, and vulnerability led back to humiliation.
Fat people are expected to be grateful that anyone wants us — even if that desire shows up as sexual assault or abusive partners. We are subject to humiliation for daring to express our interest in someone else. Those who fall for fat people learn to hide their feelings after years of being told their desire isn’t real. We learn simple lessons: that bees sting, that fire burns, that open affection cannot be trusted, and that love is not for bodies like ours. If we are to be fat, we cannot also be loved.
Fat people are reminded every day that we are objects of fear and revulsion. When we dare to aspire to love — real, reciprocal, respectful, deep, boundless love — we are slapped back. Our most human want is met with a seemingly impenetrable wall of harsh stereotypes and unforgiving attitudes.