I first became aware of my body when I was a teenager. I thought I was the fattest and ugliest girl in the world, and so I acted accordingly. I would wear layers of clothing in the bid to hide my body. Thrifting was a way for me to get new clothes because we did not have a lot of money growing up. I used to get clothes that were two sizes too small because in my mind’s eye I was smaller than that. I have always had a chaotic relationship with my body, but nothing as extreme as starving myself or going on diets. I have come to learn how to appreciate my fat body and everything it enables me to do, including live.
I did not start dating until I was 17 years old, after secondary school. I was not sexually active yet, because of religious reasons, but also because I could not imagine being naked in the presence of another person. It was weird because I was not fat then, I just thought I was.
I had my first ‘boyfriend’ when I was 17, and fresh out of secondary school, and I slowly became aware of how my body affected my chances of dating when I started uni. There was not anything particular that happened, I just became more aware of my surroundings and how I navigated it as a fat person.
When I was 23, I had a boyfriend who told me he loved my body but needed me to ‘work on my belly.’ I think I have been pretty lucky when it comes to dating as a fat person, I don’t have any of the horrible experiences other fat people have with people who claimed to love them.
I have *almost* always had partners who adored my body, and I want that experience for every single fat person. We navigate fatphobia in so many subtle and not-so-subtle ways and having to deal with it in our romantic relationships should not be one of them. It should be a safe space.
One of the few things I was apprehensive of when I first started having sex was that my partners would be repulsed by my body. Many fat people have told of their experience with sexual partners who made them feel ugly, unattractive just because of their size. I cannot overemphasise how vile it is that a person tries to pull down the self-esteem of another person because they do not fit their standards of beauty. Thankfully, I have never had to deal with such a thing in my sex life and I’ve slowly learnt to let go of that apprehension by reading and following the work of fat activists. These women lead full, happy sexual lives, which is not fettered by their size. I only share my body with people who will cherish every inch of it and the entire mass of it. That is the way it should be.