Men need to talk to each other more often
by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer Ph.D.

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One of the major reasons why we publish Dimensions is to facilitate dialogue between large women and their admirers. We're trying to show each side a bit of the other, a peek behind the curtain, so to speak. Men and women have very different approaches to relationships to begin with, and these differences are often misinterpreted and can make it impossible for two otherwise well-matched people to meet. When one side is taught to resent their bodies-as most fat women are-and the other taught to be ashamed for their physical preference-as most men with a preference for the fat figure are-the chances for miscommunication are increased dramatically. This is why most events for large people and their admirers feature sexuality workshops where such issues are discussed. I've led several in my former capacity as coordinator of NAAFA's FASIG (Fat Admirer Special Interest Group) and I did another one a few weeks ago at NAAFA's Memorial Day event in Irvine, California.

Often, these workshops are co-ed, with women outnumbering the men and with women participating much more in the discussion than the men. Almost invariably, the women voice complaints about inappropriate male behavior and concerns about physical preferences in general, and the men either try to explain their actions, or they make chivalrous or politically correct statements. There is nothing wrong with that, and the discussions are always lively and informative, but I usually leave those workshops feeling that the men never really got to say what was really on their minds.

The workshop I was to give in Irvine was male only, and I thought back to other such workshops I'd done and how reluctant to open up the few attending men had been even among themselves. Only three men were present at the beginning of this workshop and so we formed a small circle (square, really) in a corner of the large meeting room that we'd been given. Eventually we were joined by four more brave souls and what followed was an eye-opening two hour discussion about the issues that are on our minds, both spoken and unspoken. Our small group was enormously diverse in terms of age, ethnicity, and ability, suggesting that whatever commonalities we may have, we can be found in just about any group of people. I had prepared an outline, but we quickly switched to an open discussion. We spent a bit of time talking about peer and family pressure, being in the closet, etc. and then shared when and how each of us had first experienced an attraction to fat people. For some it was after puberty, but for others many years earlier. We wondered why we feel the way we feel and, of course, did not find a definite answer.

We talked about the difficulty of paying compliments (we want to compliment a woman on how fat she looks while the woman often wants to hear how thin she looks). Almost all of us have at some point had a fascination with the proverbial "fattest woman in the world" and we wondered if that meant we all really preferred super-sizes but in real life "settled" for a much smaller woman. A man from India who is involved with a fat American woman told us how in his country size didn't matter at all. We talked about how long it took us to free ourselves from the shackles of peer pressure and date or marry fat women (anywhere from no time at all to decades). We discussed some of the real world problems of life with a super-size partner and how we cope with the extra work and costs (it doesn't matter to us; we love it). We also wondered whether our physical preference for a fat partner also meant that we wanted to be fat ourselves. No one admitted to that.

One of the biggest problems in an FA's life happens when he meets a wonderful woman who just happens to hate her body. We all agreed that support and reassurance may help a partner get over a negative body image, but that it can be enormously frustrating to be involved with someone who loathes the very thing we love about her. We also touched upon the sensitive topic of weight gain, a concept that holds a magic attraction to some FAs. We wondered why a large percentage of fiction found on erotic/sexual bulletin boards for large people and their admirers deals with weight gain.

All in all, it was an enlightening two hours but I felt that we had barely scratched the surface of our inner feelings as FAs. It is quite obvious to me that we rarely fully open up even to our partners, and that we have all learned the hard way to think twice before we open our mouths in public. I felt that those of us actively involved in the size acceptance movement are especially unable to separate politics from fantasies. In an odd way, while our preferences initially motivate us to become politically involved we then fall into the trap of letting political correctness shackle our preferences and fantasies. I think that's very unfortunate.

I am not sure what the solution is. Do we need, as has been suggested, our own little movement that affirms our preferences, or is it just a matter of more open discussion? Personally, I feel that a preference for a fat partner is a major issue in a man's life, and that we need to talk about it much more. Most men are loaners by nature and are taught to hide their feelings and personal preferences. We need to learn to open up. With this issue of Dimensions we're again trying to bring people together, offer helpful hints and provocative opinions, outrageous fiction and compassionate portrayals, concerns and questions, and lots of other information you might find useful and entertaining. Let me know what you think, don't be afraid to speak up. This is your place to explore your comfort level with your body or with your preference.

Editor at Large