I’m fat, but I’m not safe.
I’m overweight, but that doesn’t protect me from pain.
I’m considered big; however, that doesn’t mean I’m exempt from all the dangers that come at women all the time.
There’s a theory that women gain weight for protection, thinking that if they become overweight they won’t be attractive enough for someone to want to hurt them. Sometimes the weight gain is entirely subconscious, while other times it can be seen as the only way to stop unwanted attention from men. But the reality is that being fat isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be safe and unharmed.
Does the extra weight I have wrapped around me like a cocoon keep me safe and insulated from harm? Is my abundance of flesh a way for me to prevent other people from getting too close?
The answers to both questions are no. Being fat hasn’t saved me from any hurt; if anything, it has attracted more of it to me.
Fat girls get raped too, though there are those disgusting pigs who feel that if a fat woman is raped, she should feel grateful for the attention.
I have gone through the same scary things that thinner women go through; I’m not exempt because I’m overweight. Sexual abuse should not be a rite of passage for young women — and still, almost everyone I know has been abused in some way.
It can be a dangerous world, especially for women, and it doesn’t matter what your body type is. But there are things you can do to help yourself feel safer, such as learning self-defense, being aware of your surroundings, trusting your gut, and being able to use whatever resources you need to protect yourself.
I may have felt gratitude that he was attracted to me, but it wasn’t enough for me to ignore the voice screaming in my head to get away from him. I had enough self-respect not to sleep with him, but not enough to think that anyone would believe that a grown-up man had tried to rape me.
Sexual assault doesn’t discriminate based on body weight, and none of us should take our safety for granted.
I’ve been varying degrees of overweight since junior high. If I subconsciously gained weight for protection, it hasn’t worked. Being overweight has made me feel both invisible and highly visible, and usually at the exact wrong times. If anything, my weight has been a lightning rod that attracts negativity, exploitation, and bullying.
When I was around 16, I considered myself obese, though I see now that I was only slightly overweight. I was certain that I wasn’t pretty enough in the right way to attract a guy my own age, as they would have to want to scale the fortress of sarcasm, insecurity, and extra weight that I had built up around me. When a much older friend of the family started paying attention to me, I thought it was proof that he was a good man, as he was willing to overlook the five extra pounds I carried on my body. When he flirted with me, I flirted back. When he grabbed me, pressing himself against me and kissing me, I tried to convince myself that I was attracted to him.
As he got more turned on, I began to have my doubts that I could kiss him again, let alone have sex with him.
I fought him as he tried to take off my clothes, so he used my lack of confidence in my body to try to seduce me. As the situation escalated, I promised to sleep with him later that night to get him to stop. No sex happened; however, it was still enough to freak me out.
I may have felt gratitude that he was attracted to me, but it wasn’t enough for me to ignore the voice screaming in my head to get away from him and go home. I had enough self-respect not to sleep with him, but not enough to think that anyone would believe that a grown-up man had tried to rape me. I never said anything to my parents or the police.
My fat hadn’t kept me safe, but my strength had helped me recognize the situation and get to a place of safety. I made sure to never be alone with him again.
It doesn’t matter what size or shape you are, if you’re "hot or not" — you can’t assume that you’re safe. You need to rely on other resources that you have, such as your intelligence, awareness, activism, and strength.
Years after my near-rape, when I was working at a bank in Hollywood. I was crossing the street at lunchtime when a man grabbed me by the breast, squeezed, and said, “Nice milk-suckers.” I was stunned and humiliated. But I was still able to find my voice and scream, “Get your hands off me!”
I’m overweight, which hasn’t prevented unwanted advances and sexual assault. I’ve had a healthcare professional touch me inappropriately, men who fetishized me, and one who was only interested in me because of my curvy body.
My weight hasn’t stopped me from becoming a sexual being. I’ve had purely sexual hook-ups, and I've had elationships where I felt cherished and desired — but all were my choice.
I learned to be my own advocate and to protect myself through thick and thin. Fat isn’t my bodyguard, my weapon, nor is it my superhero-suit that makes me impervious to pain — it’s just a part of my body.