Dear Virgie: “It really sucks to be crushing on a fat babe who doesn’t know how to see that they are worthy of love, and instead is perpetuating their own dehumanization.”
I have a fat friend who I think won’t date me because I’m fat. At first I thought I was being paranoid, but then it became clear that she only wanted to pursue thin people and then when she doesn’t get dates, I’m the one who has to support her and take care of her after other people disappoint her and she is telling me it’s because of their fatphobia.
That sounds like one big ball of fucked up, girl.
I have been in your situation before and it really, really sucks for all involved. In fact, I want to tell you all about it!
A few years ago, I met this guy. He was funny and smart, nerdy and charismatic and a total fat babe. He liked a lot of the same weird stuff I liked. After I spent 30 minutes with him, I was already planning our Carrie-themed karaoke wedding. I decided to ask him out. I was a little nervous, but I persevered. In response to my expressed interest, he acted a little bit taken aback, kind of like the way I imagine one would react if an alien asked them out. I kind of tried to ignore it. He thanked me for my interest and told me that he was seeing someone and that was the end of that.
Except it wasn’t.
A couple of months passed, and we ended up crossing paths in a more intimate/intense way. It was then that I discovered that he was a total modelizer. He was only interested in dating women who were younger than him, who were petite and who were attractive in an easily accessible way. I had the sad and also kind of amusing (in a vindictive and retaliatory way) experience of watching him get rejected pretty publicly by a petite young woman who had started flirting with him only so that she could ask him for a job (the look on his face when he realized that she wasn’t into him, and had been charming him only with the hopes of a job offer, was undeniably the best illustration of the saying “his face completely dropped”).
At another point we were at a pool with some friends. Everybody was in the pool except for him. He was sitting on the edge wearing a hoodie and I realized that I’d never seen him not wearing a hoodie. It was then that it kind of all clicked for me: he couldn’t imagine being with another fat person because he couldn’t imagine being fat in the future; he looked at me and saw himself.
So to return to your question, I think, unfortunately, this is one of those situations where we live in a fucked-up culture that makes intimacy hard in general. Then, if you add levels of marginalization to romantic attempts, you end up with some really sad results.
The relationship you two have sounds like a lot of work. She is relying on you for emotional support around fatphobia while she herself seems to be enacting it upon you.
I’ve got one word for you: boundaries.
If I were you, I would take one very large, compassionate step away from her. You do not owe her an explanation, but if you feel inclined to open up a potentially giant can of worms, you can tell her what you are observing and see if she thinks there is any truth in your observation. She might not agree with you.
I am not saying you shouldn’t be around her ever, but I am saying that you need to stop being the person she comes to so she can vent about her romantic probs, because it sounds like a mind-fuck.
Also, I hate to squash people’s romantic desires, but it sounds like she needs to do some more work before she can be worth your romantic time. It sounds like she has some internalized fatphobia to get over. That’s her work to do, which she owes you if you two are ever going to date. If you are feeling generous, then I might nudge her in the direction of some fat-positive resources.
It’s important to remember that this is not about you. This is not a rejection of you; this is a rejection of herself. We live in a toxic culture that teaches us to hate ourselves, especially if you’re fat.
It really sucks to be crushing on a fat babe who doesn’t know how to see that they are worthy of love, and instead is perpetuating their own dehumanization through exclusive romantic proximity to a thin partner. But please know that you deserve better than this behavior.
I hope this helps!
Virgie Tovar is an author, activist and one of the nation’s leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp, a 4-week online course designed to help women who are ready to break up with diet culture, and started the hashtag campaign #LoseHateNotWeight.