Sex and the University: Big Beautiful Objects- why the fat fetish can be harmful
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 23:03
The objectification of female bodies comes as no surprise – despite it being savage; despite it being invasive and utterly sickening that the view of a female body is often based upon whether or not someone wants to have sex with it. So much of a woman’s worth is based on what her body has manifested as, and whether or not it is pleasing to the eye. She must be curvy, but not “fat;” slender, but not too skinny – all limitations that are put on her phenotype that conclude with striving for the impossible.
Fat women, in particular, struggle with this, because “fat” doesn’t pass the litmus test of being deemed attractive in our current culture. They are made out to be monstrous beings. They become something other than women; not quite men, but those strange half-beings who are thought to have masculine behaviors because their womanhood is deemed somehow atypical. Fat women of all types are encouraged to lose weight, and publicly so. Although bullying is universally recognized as a bad thing, there is no negative stigma attached to admonishing women about their weight. To scold a woman for eating too much is to be merely “looking out” for her and to invoke the beloved Big Brother mentality that only serves to warm the cockles of society’s heart.
There is no even keel for fat women. Their bodies are often hypersexualized into a kink (the BBW, or the “Big Beautiful Woman”) or desexualized so thoroughly that they become the inevitable punch line. They must think of themselves as being lucky to attract the attentions of men, and are expected to be grateful. The protest against this treatment is seen as being whiny, even though the dimension of a woman occasionally ties directly into racist tropes such as the mammy, Hottentot Venus, etc. The hypersexualization of fat women succeeds in only furthering the concept that women are here to be a fetish, while the desexualization serves in refusing to recognize women at all. Both are intensely harmful towards womanhood and humanity in general. If we repeatedly tell women that their bodies are despicable, or can only exist within allowable constraints, then how will we encourage proper mental health? How will we ever be able to encourage body positivity, instead of only urging on low self-esteem and depression?
The fetishizing and desexualizing of fat bodies is nothing more than misogyny. The idea that women ought to construct their bodies in a way that is the most pleasing for future sexual partners is one that has existed for ages and, and the misogyny (both internalized and otherwise) that exists in our culture has only sought to perpetuate it. What needs to be understood is that women do not exist for their bodies to be evaluated and that commentary on the shape of one’s body is neither necessary nor polite.