I’m grabbing a drink with a friend and tell her about a new plus-size dating app I’ve discovered. She snickers and tells me that wanting to date bigger people “isn’t a thing.”

The interlocutor here has decided that fat people simply cannot be attractive. They cannot warrant the attention of others. They are not desirable. It is a common prejudice, fed by media representation of fat people as lonely, sad and unlovable. In a society that values thinness, fat people have no space to be romantic partners. When they do, it must be the result of fetishism.

Discussing fetishes in consensual relationships, predatory behaviors and asexuality among fat people, Aubrey Gordon writes: “Stigma of fat sexualities means that our own narratives of our bodies and desire — or lack thereof — are frequently rewritten by those around us. Many fat people can, and do, engage in kink. Many fat people can, and do, identify as asexual or aromantic. Still, their accounts of their own sexualities are erased, rewritten by reductive assumptions about what fat people can and do desire.”[1][2]

[1] Gordon (2023) “You Just Need to Lose Weight” (p. 146).

[2] For a further discussion of desirability politics, antifat bias and anti-blackness, please read Belly of the Beast by Da’Shaun Harrison.