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TO LOVE AND TO BE LOVED FROM THE FAT PERSPECTIVE

This is my personal reckoning with the idea that I may never see love in the way that I want to, but also that anyone who reads this has the ability to change that. 

By Da’Shaun Harrison

I lay awake at night thinking deeply about love. What it means to love someone romantically and how it shows up in our everyday lives. To speak candidly, I sometimes believe that I won’t ever experience love; not in the romantic sense, anyway. 

I try to make myself fall asleep, but here I lay, eyes closed, in deep thought; my mind racing with thoughts stacked on top of one another like books during a long day of studying. A big part of me has internalized the idea that [romantic] love is not something someone my age should desire; that I have ‘all my life’ to find that; that relationships are for when one has things “all figured out” and us young 20-somethings could not possibly be mature enough to handle the responsibility of commitment. However, the rest of me is forced to think about if it is even possible for a darkskin, fat, Black queer person to experience romantic love in a world that consistently tells us that we are not enough, that our existence is a nuisance, and that I must change in unrecognizable ways to even be offered the choice to be loved.

Sure, fat politics, beauty politics, and desirability politics are about so much more than romantic love and who gets to experience it, and I’ve written about all of that before. This doesn’t change these feelings for me, though. If I am to believe doctors, because of my fatness, I’ll be dead before I’m “old enough.” If I am to walk this world freely as a Black, queer, gender deviant person, I run the risk of being killed by police before I am “old enough”—or meeting Death at the door of the person who I thought would introduce me to Love. With my chronic illnesses, both physical and mental, I am not guaranteed to live until I am “old enough.” There is an immense privilege in assuming that all of us live to be “old enough” and there is extreme erasure in the belief that love finds us at an older age.

Young people are no less full of emotions and passion than anyone; heartbreak is painful at age 23, 33, or 63; and “experience” is not reserved only for how long someone has been on Earth, in the same way that “maturity” isn’t. As such, so long as we are consenting adults and not entertaining relationships that ignore power dynamics, who gets to determine what is and is not “old enough” to love and be loved?

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It is hard to be vulnerable enough—both with myself and everyone else—to admit that I am lonely and wrestle deeply with imagining a future for myself where romantic love exists for me. Though I am working to love it more, I am in love and happy with the body I exist in, so this is not a public sharing of a diary entry discussing my Insecurities (though I do have many). This is a public imagining of a conversation between myself and the world in which I live where I am suggesting that we all earnestly assess and adjust how we see and engage fat people’s bodies, Black people’s bodies, gender deviant people’s bodies, and disabled people’s bodies. I don’t care to make this a conversation about statistics.

This is much more than that. This is my personal reckoning with the idea that I may never see love in the way that I want to, but also that anyone who reads this has the ability to change that. Not just for me, but for the people like me; for all the multiply-marginalized (specifically, fat, Black, and disabled) people who care to experience romantic love but have in some way been told that they cannot. I want us to know what it feels like to be chosen; to be Held. I want us to know a love so intimate that ‘closeness’ itself begins to tear down its borders and make way for a freedom it never knew was possible.

I open my eyes to return to what is a dark room, which does simultaneously symbolize the reality of where my mind goes in these hours. I resent the idea that one has to denounce any accusations made against them about this being rooted in their insecurities. Even if that were true, a person has a right to be insecure about the things which inform how others engage them. Still, I only feel justified in writing this by covering up or lying about insecurities I may have because this seems to be the only way others will even begin to consider legitimizing what I feel. With my eyes open, lying in this dark room, I know that this is my reality.

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I am unsure of what I expect from writing this. If nothing else, I hope that this will begin to humanize me, and all people like me, in ways that others refuse to do without this laborious plea for our humanity. Ultimately, though, I am hoping that, for someone, this will lead them to caring about and loving fat people; not performing love to us, but loving us publicly, without ulterior motives, and simply for love’s sake.

Da’Shaun Harrison is a nonbinary abolitionist and organizer in Atlanta, GA. They write and speak publicly on race, sexuality, gender, class, religion, disabilities, fatness, and the intersection at which they all meet. Harrison is the author of the forthcoming book, “Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness,” which is expected to be published in July 2021. Their portfolio and other work can be found on their site: dashaunharrison.com.

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