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The State of Fat Representation in Sex: A Weekend at The Sex Expo

Not seeing fat people represented sends a message that fat bodies aren’t desirable. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

By Mayra Mejia

Let’s face it. Most of us (consenting, adult) fat folks have and enjoy sex. But oftentimes in the sex industry, the only plus-size representation is presented as a fetish. While fetishes can be completely lovely and healthy between two consenting adults, not every fat person likes to be thought of in this way. Tired of this generalization, I decided to go to the Sex Expo in Brooklyn and see if, and how, fat bodies would be represented.

Day one was absolutely bustling with excitement and activity, with the booths filled with curious folks trying out different lubes, enjoying complimentary spankings, and taking selfies. I ducked out of the chaotic main floor and into the first workshop of the day, “Women Of Sex Tech.” It was there that I came upon Melanie Cristol and her product, Lorals. Lorals are meant to replace the dental dam, used by individuals who want to enjoy oral without skin to skin contact. Intrigued, I headed over to their booth and was able to touch and play around with the product. Currently, there is only one size, fitting hip sizes 24”- 44.5”, which corresponds to a US size 0-14.

I asked Melanie if they were planning on expanding the size range, and she immediately and enthusiastically said yes. They are currently working on expanding the range to fit sizes 16 through somewhere in the 30s, as well as fit testing them to make any necessary design fixes to ensure the best fit. She also let me know that they are working on a “masculine” style (if panties aren’t your thing), as well as other sexual wellness products. The fact that larger bodies are being considered in the creation of new and innovative safer sex products is truly exciting! I hope more companies follow this trend. 

As I continued to explore the Sex Expo, I noticed a crowd and a long line forming… it was a line to ride a Sybian, (a saddle-like masturbation device designed primarily for people with vaginas, to sit on) so naturally, I got in line for my turn! As I waited for my turn, I did what every fat person does before they hop onto something new, I checked the weight limit. Turns out, the Sybian can hold over 1,000 lbs of weight, and I wonder, why isn’t that a selling point? I want to see more fat folks riding Sybians, please! As a fat person, I know what it’s like to hesitate to hop on a ride because of the fear that it won’t hold my weight. For those curious, it was amazing! With that, I left day one of the Expo with a bang.

I began day two by attending Carly S.’s workshop on “Orgasming With A Partner.” Carly is a self-described fat queer woman of color who is a pleasure educator, blogger, and porn creator, as well as the manager of The Pleasure Chest in NYC. We chatted after the incredibly informative workshop, about being a fat woman of color in the sex industry.

Carly, who is a prominent and important figure in the sexuality space, works many events like the Sex Expo and says that lack of representation is a huge issue. She has frequently been ignored by photographers in favor of straight-sized individuals. How are fat folks ever going to feel welcome in this community when the photographers refuse to shoot us, and the social media for a majority of sex-positive spaces don’t show existing fat bodies in said space? Many fat people love sex, and love investing in our pleasure, just as much as straight-sized people do!

Not seeing fat people represented sends a message that fat bodies aren’t desirable. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Fat bodies deserve access to sexual pleasure, sexual experiences, and sexual wellness products.

When asked what she would like to see in the future for plus-size folks in this industry, she immediately responded,  “What I want to see is more fat people on the (product) boxes, on the marketing…at the events. Things that are specifically welcoming us and letting us know that this product will work for us, too. We are using the products, and we need to see ourselves represented”.

I couldn’t agree more. 

I left day two feeling like there’s still so much to be done when it comes to accurate representation of plus-size people in sex, but with inclusive and innovative products such as Lorals making the sincere effort to serve the plus-size community, and inspirational women like Carly advocating for change, I feel incredibly optimistic for our future. 

Mayra Mejia (She/Her) is a fat positive, queer Salvadoran American writer and advocate. She is passionate about fostering a strong fat positive community, both online and in her native Washington, DC. Find her on Twitter and  Instagram.

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