I recently received a note on my “Ask the Doc” blog from a gay man who wrote: “I became fascinated with fat people at a very young age, and after I discovered masturbation at 13 years old, I realized those feelings were sexual.” He was angry because his friends think his sexual attraction is crazy.
Society has a prejudice against fat people. The idealized male body is one with 10% body fat, V-shaped, and muscular. Our culture sees fat people as lazy, unmotivated, and undisciplined. Because we are all exposed to that culture, everyone incorporates these stereotypes.
Because society adopts those stereotypes, any sexual attraction that doesn’t fit that idealized body image is seen as “crazy.” One young man said to me, “I like men with rounded corners.” As a man with an endomorphic body, I see that as a beautiful metaphor for men who have lost their sharp edges.
Some consider an attraction to larger men and women as a “fat fetish,” but fetishes are used to enhance a sexual experience, not something that is essential to a sexual encounter. For a gay chubby chaser, a thin or average built man might as well have a vagina because they hold no sexual attraction.
Sexual attraction is a personal feeling and is likely innate and unchangeable. Cultural change and stigma reduction occur only slowly, but we can’t change culture through humiliation and insults.
Historically, large men and women were seen as more attractive by society. Rubens (1577-1640) is famous for portraying ample and opulent figures in his paintings. The term “Rubenesque” has come to describe the pleasing and attractive depiction of plump and rounded figures.
Although obesity is seen as a major health risk, historically, large men and women were associated with affluence, and affluence carries with it privilege.
Lizzo and her “Big Grrrls” dancers work hard to present a body positive image for large women. The “body positive” movement is a recent development designed to help people with marginalized shapes learn to love their bodies.
No one seems interested in changing the prejudice against fat gay men. Body shaming for men is real and the stigma extends to those who find fat men sexually desirable.
Those who believe men are exempt from body image issues are flat-out wrong, but big men are often their own harshest critics.
The last time I had an acceptable body weight and body mass index (BMI), I ran six miles, three to four times a week, and on alternate days I biked 30 miles. I couldn’t sustain it. I always felt hungry, and I was angry at others who seemed to maintain their weight without sacrifice.
Many gay men say that even if their BMI is healthy, they don’t feel normal by gay standards. When compared to heterosexual men of the same size, gay men are more likely to be ignored, treated rudely, or mocked. They feel beaten down and cast aside.
Genetics play a significant role in our body type. Diets are depressing. Folks tell overweight people, “All you have to do is eat less and exercise.” If all it took to maintain an ideal weight is to eat less and exercise more, more people would be successful at it. The problem is far more complicated than that.
To do the work necessary to lose weight means we have to continuously deny ourselves the things we love. To deny ourselves those things, we must believe that a brighter future lies ahead if we reject them. What if you stop believing that a brighter future lies ahead?
To lose significant amounts of weight, you need to become obsessed with it – every thought centers on your diet. Every conversation leads to a discussion about diet and exercise. I felt two-dimensional.
I’m not a fan of the term “chubby chaser.” To me, it seems to devalue the object of your attraction, but it is so embedded in the lexicon of sexual attraction that it will likely persist.
No one has any answers about what controls our sexual attractions. If you’re a chubby chaser, your attraction is nothing more than a pleasant, erotic feeling about large body size. This is just who you are, and you don’t need to apologize or defend it.
Perhaps it would be better to say, “I prefer those with Rubenesque bodies?” And fat gay men could think of themselves as Rubenesque rather than lazy and unmotivated.
Loren A. Olson, MD, is author of No More Neckties: A Memoir in Essays. Send your questions or comments to Dr. Olson – email@example.com.