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

Comments

  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.

  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.

    Bravo!

    • 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
    http://www.splitscreenentertainment.com

  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.

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