If He Could Get a “Hot” Girl, Why Would He Want a Fat Girl?

In honor of Love Your Body Day (Wednesday, October 16), sex-and-relationships columnist Heather Corinna takes on standards of desirability around weight.

Q: I’m very pretty, but overweight. Close to 200 lbs. A guy has expressed serious romantic interest in me. I know he’s usually attracted to much smaller girls. I find it very difficult to believe he could really be attracted to me. Is it possible, for a guy who could very easily get a very “hot” girl, to be attracted to a pretty girl who is very fat?

A: I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “hot” or” “pretty” here, but I can take a guess. There are cultural and kyriarchal beauty standards in any given time and place. Right now, in white Western culture, does “hot” most typically also mean “thin,” according to those standards? You know it does.

The good news is that people’s emotional and sexual attractions often aren’t based on those standards. The idea that only thin women are attractive to others just isn’t sound. Desire may be influenced by norms, but that’s usually one piece of a very big puzzle. If we know anything to be true when it comes to attraction and sexuality, it’s that those things are incredibly diverse; we can’t accurately quantitatively measure one person’s appeal for another.

The ways some people are visually or sexually attracted to others do align with cultural beauty ideals. That’s as true today as when the ideal was larger bodies, when it was pale skin or when it was tanned skin, when it was big breasts or when it was small breasts. But what’s also true now, and always has been, is that there are other people whose attractions are not in alignment with cultural ideals or who have a wide range of people they feel attracted to both within and outside those ideals. It’s also possible that what women weigh is far less important to this guy who’s interested in you than it is to you, either because he doesn’t see the differences you do or doesn’t experience them in the same way.

It appears that not only could this guy be attracted to you, but that he is. He’s expressed that. Not only could he have interest in both “hot” girls and a woman who weighs 200 pounds, but he may feel attracted to the person he thinks is a “hot girl” who is a 200-pound woman.

I don’t think the scope of his attractions is what you need to make peace with. What you need to make peace with is how you feel about yourself and your body. When we can’t believe someone finds us attractive, it’s usually because we don’t feel positive about ourselves. A lack of self-acceptance and self-love can cause this relationship–if you want to pursue it–to suffer. Same goes for your relationships with other women. Seeing other women as sexual or romantic competitors, things for a guy to “get,” and seeing women (including yourself) as being all about their looks, can get in the way of quality connections and interactions among each other. But it’s your most lasting and influential relationship that will suffer most of all: the one you have with yourself. We self-sabotage when we don’t invest the same kind of energy in loving and accepting ourselves that we do in seeking love and acceptance from others. It’s amazing how much our lives and relationships improve when we turn that around.

I know that it’s tough to overcome the reality that larger people are deeply discriminated against and erased from current beauty ideals. However, those “ideals” presented by media, fashion and popular culture diminish, demean and leave out a lot of people, not just because of their size but because of their ethnicity, ability, gender presentation or class.

We should be critical of beauty ideals for a lot of reasons, rather than letting them starve us of appreciating all kinds of bodies. You’re already feeling the sting of what can happen when you give those ideals power. Do yourself a solid and make a vow right now to stop giving them such power. Aim to love your body as a part of your whole self.

P.S. I did a Google Images search for “hot” just to see the most current perceptions around that. The most common denominators among the images were half-dressed women with their mouths hanging open. If you would feel a lot better meeting that ideal, you could easily swing it by taking a shower in the morning when the water’s not hot enough, or getting half-dressed for work while watching Fox News. 

P.P.S. Want some more assistance with these issues? An updated edition of Hanne Blank’s phenomenal book, Big, Big, Love: A Sex and Relationships Guide for People of Size (And Those Who Love Them) just came out this week.

Check out last week’s advice about sex “just for fun.”

Have a sex, sexual-health or relationships question you want answered? Email it to Heather at sexandrelationships@msmagazine.com. By sending a question to that address, you acknowledge you give permission for your question to be published. Your email address and any other personally identifying information will remain private. Not all questions will receive answers.

ABOVE: Nude woman sitting on a couch (Anna) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, from Wikimedia Commons


  1. Speaking as a hot 300 pound woman, I just want to let the questioner know that, while Heather’s advice is great, it should be noted that learning to really love your body and to stop caring about Standard Western Beauty Ideals is a really long and hard process. The start of my self-acceptance came from a really awful event on my part (stealing the boyfriend of a “hot” friend of mine), but it will take years to mostly silence the voice at the back of your head trying to make you feel bad. As hard as the journey is though, every baby step will make you feel better about yourself and also make you angrier at the world around you trying to halt your progress.

    Does this guy have a reason to flirt with you other than just finding you attractive? Don’t completely abandon healthy caution, but if you are attracted to this guy as well, don’t undermine your own potential happiness.

    • Meghan,

      Really appreciate you expanding on that. I so agree, and unfortunately, the length restrictions here made digging into that impossible this time.

      We’ve got a bunch of links over at Scarleteen with some body image journeys to share, and I know some other helps I could suggest. I’d be happy to add them in comments if anyone is interested.

      And of course, it’d be great if others wanted to add their own!

    • When I first met my boyfriend 2 years ago, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been- around 220 pounds. I wasn’t happy about my weight at all, but that didn’t stop him from making me feel my most beautiful. He said it was my relaxed confidence that really turned him on, and my ability to not be preoccupied with my body- to laugh at things during sex- that made me so attractive.

      Now that I am happy and in a loving, caring environment, I’ve naturally started to lose weight. NEVER has a day gone by where I don’t feel beautiful, sexy, and loved. I stopped comparing myself to a projected “ideal” long ago.

      The guys WORTH having value confidence over body type ANY day. Trust me. All you need to do it let go, forgive, and love yourself. You can want to change your body and still love every bit of it. I know I have.

    • In fact is far from an easy thing to do. But the results are indescribable. And if you don’t learn to accept and love yourself, you would never experience true happiness. You can’t give what you don’t have. In may website I help you restore lost self-confidence with many tools that make the journey a little easier.

  2. P.S. Ms. picks the images for these columns, not I. What a lovely surprise to find that Renoir piece here! Cheers, editors!

  3. Yes, absolutely.

    Most of my romantic history has been with girls who would be described as slim or even skinny.  I weigh about 220lbs, but that’s mostly because I’m 6 foot and built quite squarely – I didn’t really know about Fat Acceptance.

    However, my current partner weighs more than me, and it’s all curves (although not necessarily the type that FHM tells me I should like). I think she is awesome, and incredibly pretty, and I find her devastatingly attractive. So I would say that past dating history is not what you should be looking at. If this guy seems to fancy you, it might be because he fancies you. 🙂

    I would say, however, that just because he suddenly has the hots for a woman of size does not mean he’s necessarily going to be sensitive to all the issues surrounding that for you. We (guys) get a lot of messages about who and what we should find attractive, and unfortunately some of those stick, even in the face of sexy evidence to the contrary. So if he doesn’t respect you, acts like you should owe him anything, or is anything less than proud to be arm-in-arm with you, chew him out or walk.

    I also know that one guy on the Internet telling you to go for it is unlikely to trigger an epiphany. Self-acceptance is often harder than that, but I hope you get there.

    • You’re awesome!!

    • I am so in love with this comment.

      There’s this thing that sometimes men do most of us have likely noticed, and I am sure it’s well-intentioned much of the time, where when women are feeling crummy about their bodies in regard to how men might see them, a dude chimes in and says something like, “Hey! I think you’re attractive! So guys will think so!” I hopefully don’t have to explain the many reasons that’s less than helpful, and in some ways only enables part of the problem.

      But what you did here was SO not that. Well done, man.

    • <3

  4. Boy, could I have used that advice 25 years ago, when I was in my late teens!

    I know that I’d love to explore the Scarleteen links, if you have time to post them.

  5. Great article!

    Not to be too picky, though, the reference to Fox News was pretty ridiculous. My husband is a pretty libertarian/conservative guy and he has the hots for me, a woman who weighs about 240. One thing I’ve found is that political stripe does NOT dictate sexual or romantic interests. And although I would agree that society and culture do have a large weight on all of us, I’m not sure that defining yourself as a member of a victim class is ultimately helpful.

    These quibbles aside, though – I think we are all relatively hard wired in what we find attractive. And if we’re completely honest with ourselves – completely – we’d all be able to tell stories that run to the “I am not entirely sure why I’m attracted to this person – ” which speaks to the level of the hard wiring.

    So I have to agree – most of the work to be done is in accepting ourselves as we are and claiming our own beauty, knowing that beauty is really particular, not general. Which is why, in truth, we are all beautiful.

    Another point that I’m not entirely sure was made is about how the level of self acceptance and confidence, by themselves, are ultimately attractive and sexy to potential partners. As a large size woman I know I surprised (and delighted) my friends and family by marrying six years ago (and at a higher weight than I am today). My husband was and is proud of me, proud to be seen with me, and is a nice looking guy to boot. Plus he’s smart and funny and a great father to his sons. I know that had he met a woman who wasn’t able to love herself that he might have not found me as attractive as he did. Not saying he wouldn’t have pursued a relationship anyway, but he’s commented on this – and I’ve heard it from a lot of men. Confident and self-loving is, by itself, attractive. Being a size 2 and hating your thighs or engaging in fat talk probably isn’t that attractive, no matter how “hot” the girl on the outside.

    It’s a long, slow process to finally love yourself and your body – but it really pays off in the long run.

    Again – great article and wonderful comments by others.


    • Cheers!

      I’m not understanding what the joke about Fox has to do with a “victim class” nor how you interpreted it as saying that political affiliation has anything to do with sexual or romantic interest. The gag was that a rare few of us, especially if we identify as feminist, can probably watch Fox News without a experiencing jaw-drop of some kind of another in very short order. 🙂

      And very much agreed around self-confidence and self-love! Extra bonus? Whether or not someone has a partner or gets (or wants) male sexual or romantic attention, accepting and loving yourself is going to improve your life.

    • “Victim class”? Ugh, I feel sorry for anyone who’s getting therapy from you.

      And, no, we’re not “hard wired.” Culture mediates attraction to a huge degree.

  6. I want the reader to know that I weigh 250 pounds and only date hot guys who usually date skinny girls. Being attractive is not about being skinny. You see so many images in the media to suggest that only skinny people are worthy of love, but 60% of the people in this country are above a size 14, so that is not true. Its better to focus on what you like about your body rather than what you don’t. Even skinny girls have a challenge doing this. If you have great breasts and pretty eyes, wear clothes to highlight those features and dress to camouflage the parts you are less proud of. Guys pick up on a sexy vibe and loving yourself is hot. You are a gorgeous girl worthy of love and if you carry yourself that way, hot guys pick up on that and want to be with the sexy girl with a few extra pounds rather than the bitter skinny girl.

  7. Willemina Cx says:

    Here’s a pretty interesting project, celebrating the plus-sized woman. The title makes it sound like it’s insulting but it’s actually very flattering, if you read more about it. Produced by a guy who loves BBWs and performed by lots of famous musicians.

    Whole Lotta Love: An All-Star Salute To Fat Chicks

  8. This article is brilliant, and the comments are intelligent and illuminating.

    Thank you, *everyone*, for this! 🙂

  9. The most important thing is to learn and learn well to love yourself. It’s not only about your body but who you are as a person. We have to put an end on letting ourselves be influenced by the standards of a “hot” man or women. The true beauty seeks in the heart and also a confident person is way more attractive than anything else. In my website I assist you to appreciate all the you are, have been and will be, and I’ll help you to discover the best ways to use all the power you have within you.

  10. While I found the article and comments very interesting and uplifting, I have to say that I think the young woman’s suspicion of this man who has supposedly expressed an interest in her is fully justified. The fact is that most men prefer women who fit this society’s standards of beauty and for a guy to say anything different sounds suspicious. He could be playing some kind of joke or he might get some kind of personal satisfaction out of playing a psychological game with someone like her, in order to ultimately tear her self-esteem down even further. I would not trust him, and I think she should put caution first no matter how many men claim to love the BBW’s they are with.

  11. Vicki Wharton says:

    I think caution is the by word in dealing with men who have grown up today’s porn driven society. But that doesn’t need to stop you treating his words as an indication but not proof of his attraction and just seeing how it goes from there. Try a bit of dating, but keep your heart somewhere safe til you get more of an idea of whether his words are backed up by his actions. One final point is that our desires change in light of our experiences: maybe he has found that dating those other skinny women has meant spending a lot of time with people on diets or some other scenario that has struck him as negative … maybe he sees in you someone that looks fun to be with … just a thought?

  12. I am a 20 year old girl who is overweight but very proportionate and curvy, I carry it well. I’m nowhere near skinny or being small though. Anyway, I play up my great features like my eyes because I am French and a quarter Japanese. I draw attention to my fashion sense, my long hair and my butt. Now, I’ve had a lot of guys not like me because I’m not the norm. I’m not that skinny model on a cover of Elle. But I’ve had a lot of great experienced where guys who I’d general think are way too attractive for me think that I’m a very sexy and beautiful woman. The point I’m getting at is: Don’t focus on the bad! Love yourself for who you are at this very moment and from there you’ll be able to feel better and make the changes you want in your life. I am smart, witty, charming, funny, and I am capable of getting a good looking man regardless of what culture and society tells me because of extra weight.

    • @Cari – I’m so glad to see that someone has posted something new on this thread, because I think it is a very important topic that needs extensive discussion. I am happy to hear about your positive attitude and love for self that has been destroyed in so many of us. It is extremely difficult to fight against an entire society that is against you and wages what amounts to psychological warfare on your self-esteem and self-worth.
      The original question was posed by someone expressing her doubts about a guy who supposedly has a “serious romantic interest” in her, and my advice was to be safe rather than sorry in responding to him. This may be unfair, but based on my experiences in life (and I am much older than you) I wouldn’t trust him at all. There are men out there who have absolutely horrible attitudes towards fat women, and they are fully capable of putting on an elaborate pretense and claiming to be interested when in reality they are about as real and trustworthy as your average pathological liar.
      It is wonderful if one can find men who actually do find some of us attractive and I think you should continue to enjoy that. But always remember to keep your mind and emotions protected, no matter what.

  13. Shahin Larhnimi says:

    The author said in the article that , “The ways some people are visually or sexually attracted to others do align with cultural beauty ideals. “ and I completely agree, different cultures have their own perception of beauty. A lot of women believe that if certain men do not feel attracted to them then that would mean that no man would. Just because there are men that have other preferences, and it does often depend on what they are used to culturally, does not mean that everyone has the same mindset. A totally agree with Simon, and speak from a man’s perspective; :We (guys) get a lot of messages about who and what we should find attractive, and unfortunately some of those stick, even in the face of sexy evidence to the contrary. “

    “We self-sabotage when we don’t invest the same kind of energy in loving and accepting ourselves that we do in seeking love and acceptance from others.” No one is going to accept the fact that you do not love or accept yourself. Generally, both men and women are attracted to confidence and love for oneself.

  14. I know this thread is quite old now but my two cents are that many “hot” guys are into “bigger” women. I won’t brag about myself but I work as a shirtless bartender for a friend of mine and she has implemented fitness requirements for the (shirtless) male staff. Over the past two years I’ve achieved a typical “hollywood” body but I’m no more or less interested in “big” women regardless as I’m currently dating a “large” woman that visited the bar a couple of months ago. In fact I’d say that she’s pickier as she’s not dating men without a clear muscle definition and a “hollywood” body.

  15. hi i just read your article i know its old but just wanna say something. I’m a woman who is fit and my body looks like a model’s body. yet my husband likes chubby girls who have large size. its all about taste so just be confident u r very lucky that guy wants u and probably really likes u 🙂

  16. If a man makes you feel lesser about your body. Run FAST. They are insecure losers that chip at your self esteem to bring you to their level. Trust me. Lost a couple of years with someone that shredded me to bits and I was a size 8-10 ! We are all unique and how boring would life be if everyone was a size 2?

  17. This is what I have been wondering as well. I am 5 feet tall only but I weigh 147 lbs (too heavy for my height). Not much guys have shown me interest through the years. only probably 3 men which were years ago! And men used to bully me about my size… and looks. because I don’t pass to the standards of beauty. But I would like to know if it’s possible for someone to like me. Not just temporary attraction.

    Also, are we talking about long-term attraction, or just temporary-enough for one night stand or dating or something? Sorry, I’m not really familiar with the western culture for dating and stuff.

  18. Love it all

  19. I am married and not happy, she is very attractive, slim and I know that it’s just not me saying that she is attractive, when we go out she get looked at and if I step away she get picked up real quick. I’m gonna start by saying that I am wrong and I did wrong but that has nothing to do with this thread. I work at a place that has a lot of attractive women I was really attracted to this middle eastern girl, at first I didn’t want to accept that I was attracted to her because she was not the type a girl that I would go for, she was tall and she was thick. I stopoed that mind set and decided to talk to her and we ended up having an affair. So why did I decide to bring this up, well I had never been with a full figured woman in the past, I’m gonna get a little graphic here so I’m sorry, when she was undressed she was the most perfect beautiful woman I had ever seen. I fell in love with her and we held this affair for 2 years. I think that full figured women have Been set aside because of this Hollywood world we live in. Hands down I was in aww with this woman

  20. I’m big girl last year at this time I was 278 pounds now I’m down to 235 and I’m in a size 16 .. but I’m done with losing any more weight I have always love who I am no matter what size I was are am guys want say it but they like big girls and all skinny girls are not sexy and pretty .being a size 2 don’t make you look hot or sexy it’s makes you look hungry.

  21. Mariana says:

    Thanks to you all. I’m not super overweight or anything but it’s definitely obvious I enjoy wine a carbs. I’ve been dating a former marine whose abs you could see from outer space and I’ve been having a hard time accepting that he actually likes me.

  22. Alexa Smith says:

    ok so I am extremely over weight for my age. I am currently 220 at age 15, I know… it’s sad. I’m also very pale and I have an oversized chest in which lacks structure aka sags. I hold my weight well but you can still tell I’m fat. I like to consider myself pretty but I have really bad anxiety and depression and I care WAY too much about what people think. So now you know a little bit about me, so I think it’s time to address the problem.

    I’ve always been the laughing stock even when I was really young. Boys would, and still do, play games with me. They flirt with me and make me feel special then when they ask me out and when/if I say yes they laugh in my face and tell me nobody wants me. There was this one time when a really attractive kid told me to meet him somewhere, so he could kiss me. I fell for this and went because I really believed he liked me… I was so wrong. Him and a group of his friends threw stuff at me and called me a whale while taking Snapchat videos of me with whale clip art next to it… I was mortified. Another time this group of boys played a game where they all flirted with me and asked me out and counted how many times I would say yes. With the amount of times I’ve been backstabbed and called names my trust and self confidence has gone down the drain more and more and more… it’s almost completely gone.

    I made a promise to myself not to fall for anyone again cause I can’t risk getting hurt anymore. But even through all of this there is this one kid that is making me really confused in my class. I can’t help but catch him looking at me. He does it all the time, and when I look up he looks away or stares at me. I don’t know why but I kind of like him, even though I promised myself I wouldn’t fall again. I get the feeling that he likes me but there is also this feeling inside of me that it’s just the desperation in the pit of my stomach that’s grabbing on to anything it can so I can finally feel wanted.

    He’s not the athletic douchebag your probably thinking of in your head. He’s slim, more edgy but not completely goth, quiet, and an upper class man (junior to be exact). He’s nobody I would ever imagine myself going for. He’s like the kid in the back of the class in movies. He’s not a model or anything but in my eyes he’s gorgeous, and he probably has so many skinny fit girls dying to be with him. I haven’t talked to him, nor am I planning on anytime soon, due to my past experience. I’m young and I can’t tell if guys his age (16-17ish I’m guessing) or my age are mature enough to see people past the ideal “view” of woman (slim, tan, blonde, etc) and like someone like me. I usually wouldn’t come here for help, but my parents don’t care for me and are ashamed of me, and I don’t think I could handle another “joke” from someone. What should I do? I know “accept” yourself is going to be the main response at this point the only way I can do that is with someone’s help. Is he just looking at me? Does he like me? Is he mature enough. Does anyone have any suggestions? It would be very much appreciated.

    • In a magazine about nostalgic relationships I was struck by one woman who had someone interested in her and it took her 7 years to fall for him. They were happily married for a really long time until he passed away. I’m telling you this because if he’s interested, he’s gonna stay interested if he’s the real deal. And this will give you time to get yourself emotionally healthy and ready to be the high value woman you were created by God to be. Invest in yourself. Make a list of what qualities you want in a man of high value…then read it over as if he had the same list for the woman he wants…would you measure up? What do you need to do to become the person you want in your own life? BE AMAZING AND LOVELY!! Focus on what you’re passionate about and get lost in that so that you can be all of who you love to be! Be the experience you desire and you will get friends who want to become part of your experience, one that only you can offer them…unique because it’s you and nobody else!
      I love this quote I heard (I don’t remember who said it) “ In 5 years you will be the same person you are today EXCEPT for the people you meet and the books you read”
      SO, who do you want to be in 5 years??? Find high value women who are lovely, passionate and full of integrity and that would be a great start!!

  23. I’m a 200 maybe over pound women, I was talking with this “guy” about me losing weight, he was very helpful in gym wise food planning wise he gave up and said no eating, when I ate from being hungry he got super angry at me and called me little names,( reminder this guy is my friend and he wanted to go out with me but I turned him down because he is very inappropriate.). One day I gave up and burst out in tears, I was so self concise and wished everyday I was thin and pretty, one day my best friend strolls along and helps me out, all of a sudden this “guy” wanted me back. I’m unsure and still very self concise. What should I do?

    • Don’t trust his motives or judgment…anyone who is rude and tells you to starve yourself is uneducated about what you need and cannot be trusted to protect and love you as you need.

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