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Dear Virgie,

I met someone at a party and we hooked up. After the hook up he told me he was engaged to a thin woman but preferred “bigger girls.” I wanted to punch him in the dick. Now I just feel gross and used. Do you have any advice about avoiding this in the future?

Hey, friend!

Oh my GOD. That dude sounds fucking AWWWWW-ful. I can absolutely relate as I had a very similar situation happen to me once.

I met a dude at a house party a buncha years ago, and he started hitting on me immediately, telling me how amazing my boobs are (I’ve noticed sometimes dudes have fixated on my boobs as a way of avoiding their attraction to/strangeness about my fat body). I was into his attention (it’s hard to tell you these truths, girl), and after some extended flirtation we took a trip to the petting zoo.

Post bustageddon, he feels the need to tell me he’s married to a “disappointingly small-breasted woman he loves very much” but man did he miss da big boobies.

That was a new low, even for patriarchy.

Now onto the advice!

1. Place blame where it belongs 

Yes, what that dude did was super gross but YOU didn’t do anything wrong. HE did. He withheld information you deserved to have before making a hookup decision, and then he performed the Douche Bag Coup de Grace™ – he confessed his status so he could allay his guilty conscience and make you a post-hac accomplice. Not. Okay. You don’t need to feel gross or ashamed because you didn’t do anything wrong.

2. Feel the feels, learn the lesson & then release

Though I don’t think you need to feel gross or ashamed, I think it is SO IMPORTANT to allow yourself to feel the pain of what happened. It can really hurt when someone lies to you after you’ve been vulnerable with them. Feeling used can really hurt. Feeling humiliated can really hurt. I understand the desire to avoid feeling the hurt. I am an EXPERT at avoiding emotional pain.

I had to learn to “man up” when I was a little girl because my mom would abandon me for long stretches of time unannounced. And then I got a whole new level of thick skin when I was introduced to fat hate at school. Then dating started – another layer of skin.

Each of those layers was (are) part of a custom tailored suit of armor. Armor protects, but it does other things too. I’ve found in me that it creates a bifurcated sense of self: my armored self wants one thing (to be safe at all costs), and my authentic self wants another (to fall in love, be seen, be held). These two selves make very different decisions, and the armored self tends to sabotage opportunities for connection and intimacy in the name of safety.

I encourage you to let the feelings you’re having to wash over you. Allow yourself to feel them. Take a moment to let them teach you about what you do want and what you don’t want. And then let the feelings dissipate on their time. When you’re ready, get back on the horse on your terms.

3. Remember that feeling used or fetishized sucks but you’re not alone

This next piece of advice is one of those weird things that is like disturbing and comforting at the same time. So just hear me out for a second. It is absolutely true that fat women get fetishized and dehumanized, and that is a product of sexism and misogyny and fatphobia. Aaaand also A LOT of women who aren’t fat feel fetishized and dehumanized too.

Sexism teaches men that women’s primary purpose is to serve their needs and interests. This is a problem that impacts ALL women. Yeah, that fucking sucks. So even though this feels like yet another reason that fat babes should never trust anyone ever or go to parties or make out with randos without subjecting them to a 722 question are-you-feminist-enough-to-fuck quiz app (does that exist?!) PLEASE know that your experiences have actually probably been shared by the majority of women you’ll ever meet.

4. Don’t stress about your dating future

One thing that is so harmful about experiencing something like this is that it makes you want to crawl into a ball and grow a skin made of knives. Like the cutest Feminist Killjoy Freddy Kruger Hedgehog ever! I get that impulse. But remember this: it takes SO. MUCH. WORK. to play defensive all the time. Work is labor.

Uncompensated labor is exploitation.. or an internship. Don’t be patriarchy’s intern, girl. Just don’t.

I talk to lots of fat women who worry constantly about being fetishized. I understand the anxiety, but carefully curating your dating life to avoid meeting assholes is kind of like.. not going to work either, exactly.

Don’t let that guy take away the fun and excitement and realness of meeting new people who aren’t assholes in the future.  

5. Prioritize your needs and desires 

Your #1 priority in life is TAKING CARE OF YOU. Women are taught that thinking this way is “selfish,” but I say it’s tres pragmatique!

The truth is we can only truly know what we need. We cannot know what others need. So stop trying to forecast and become an expert in Y.O.U. 

Taking care of yourself can look about a million different ways. I recommend starting with these things:

  • Set boundaries.
  • Be ok with the possibility that you might misjudge someone. The world won’t end.
  • Check in with your needs early and often.
  • Pay attention to what your body is telling you. It holds precious, ancient knowledge.
  • Listen to your gut – the more you listen the louder it gets.
  • Treat yourself like you matter.

Do you know you matter?

Xo,

Virgie

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Dear Virgie is a weekly advice column by Virgie Tovar, MA, author, activist and one of the nation’s leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp and the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, November 2012) and the mastermind behind #LoseHateNotWeight. She holds a Master’s degree in Human Sexuality with a focus on the intersections of body size, race and gender. Virgie has been featured by the New York Times, MTV, Al Jazeera, the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan Magazine Online, and Bust Magazine. Find her at www.virgietovar.com

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