Fat admirers are the Rodney Dangerfields of the size acceptance movement. We just don't get no respect. People outside the movement either don't know we exist or think we are afflicted with a fetish. Many inside the movement think we're somewhere between strange and nasty.
Unfortunately, most of those in the movement who hold a low opinion of us are the very people we're attracted to.
Women in the movement who don't respect us generally offer at least one of the following reasons:
1. They've heard we feed women up to the point of immobilization, and when we can't get them any fatter we abandon them;
2. At some point, one or more of us made unwelcome advances or inappropriate remarks;
3. One or more of us didn't make advances;
4. One of us didn't call when the weekend was over;
5. We're only interested in their bodies.
The first complaint is very close to mythological. Many fat admirers don't even have feeder fantasies, and few of those who do ever attempt to act them out. In any case, it is impossible for a feeder to act out his fantasy (or her fantasy: yes, there are female feeders) without the cooperation of a feedee. The word "no" is still in the public domain.
The other complaints would sound very familiar to women who never heard of the size acceptance movement. They are the same complaints women repeatedly make about men in general. They undoubtedly apply to fat admirers in the same proportion as other men, but we certainly haven't cornered the market on obnoxious male behavior.
The last complaint is particularly annoying. Many fat women seem to be offended by the thought that men might be attracted to anything other than their inner selves. They are outraged by our enjoyment of the appearance and feel of their flesh; they are scandalized that we take pleasure in looking at the pictures of our Dimensions models; they despise us for being more attracted to one body type than another.
These fat women direct their contempt at fat admirers because we are the men who are sexually attracted to them. They have no respect for any man who might be turned on by their bodies. They are searching for men who aren't particularly attracted to their bodies but will fall in love with them anyway, because of their wonderful selves.
What such women really despise is male sexuality. It would be hard for any man to meet their requirements without being low on either sex drive or self esteem. Fat admirers are nothing more than normal men who, like all normal men, are especially attracted to particular body types. Most women who express a dislike for fat admirers simply dislike the male gender, whether or not they are conscious of that fact. They're entitled to their opinion, as we are entitled to reject it and, if we have any sense, to avoid the women who hold us in such low regard.
Which brings us to the question of our place within the size acceptance movement. You will read several viewpoints on that topic in the following pages. Terry Lawler Early is a current director of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA). According to Early, only those of us who are fat should be fully included in the movement, which if nothing else is a refreshingly different form of rejection for the rest of us. Sally Smith, NAAFA's executive director, believes we all should be able to participate fully, but fat admirers also should start their own movement. Elisabeth Williams, a former NAAFA director and officer, believes fat people and fat admirers are fighting the same battle and should be fighting it side by side.
I agree with Elisabeth, and not only because I happen to be married to her. Fat admirers are not an oppressed group in the same sense fat people are. When we do suffer oppression, it is more like that suffered by gay people, since they too are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
But discrimination against fat admirers is nowhere near as consistent or severe as discrimination against gay people. Most of us can overcome it on an individual level. To the extent fat oppression is beaten back, the position of those attracted to fat people also will be improved.
Much, if not most, disrespect toward fat admirers comes from within the size acceptance movement. Much, if not most, of that disrespect is focused on bad male behavior patterns rather than behavior patterns peculiar to fat admirers. Some individuals within our ranks do behave atrociously, but attributing their behavior to the rest of us is simple sexism.
Like its female counterpart, male sexuality has an appropriate and important place in human society. Robert Bly, a poet active in the men's movement, describes properly directed male sexuality as "Zeus energy." Such energy is directed not toward war and oppression but toward protection, creativity, and the preservation of life.
Our own Zeus energy should continue to be a potent force in the size acceptance movement. If a group within the movement chooses to relegate us to second class status, we should walk away from that group and continue the fight elsewhere. That hasn't happened in NAAFA yet, but it is time for us to give notice. Only fools and mercenaries fight for people who don't respect them, and there's no money in this war. ß