Is It Because I'm Fat? How Internalized Shame Impacts Intimacy

I still went to the painful place of being fat-shamed and decided that was why he had refused to kiss me.

I still went to the painful place of being fat-shamed and decided that was why he had refused to kiss me.

When fat people are honest about their appetites regarding food and sex, it makes many people uncomfortable. Many people believe that fat people are already too much. Any hunger we might have is considered excessive, so that we when we do try to satisfy our cravings, we’re thought of as indulgent and undisciplined. Since we can’t police ourselves, fatphobic people feel compelled to do it for us. That’s where fat-shaming comes in.

When you’re fat, you’re shamed for having a rebellious body, for loving yourself, for having the nerve to eat in public, and for any number of things that you may be doing that you’re not even conscious of by simply by existing in a fat body.

One thing that’s sometimes forgotten is that shaming isn’t only done verbally —  it can be done with a look, an attitude, or a disapproving action. There are times when shaming is so subtle that it takes you a while to realize that you’ve been shamed.

Fat-shaming has shaped how I deal with acceptance, sex, relationships, and rejection. I’ve been conditioned to expect to be fat-shamed, so I search it out even when it’s not immediately apparent. I’m always on guard in case I have to protect myself emotionally from any potential fat-shaming. I get extremely nervous around small children because I’m afraid that in their innocent (and impersonal way) they’ll say something about my body. 

Being terrified of people — no matter how young they are — because you’re afraid of them fat-shaming you is an agonizing way to live.

My ex and I had been broken up for a few years, and even though we lived in different cities, we still had a strong connection. He had some time off, so we talked it over and decided it would be a good idea if he came for a visit. I had had an ovarian cyst removed a few weeks earlier and was anxious to find out if everything still worked down there. Who better to do a sexual diagnostic test with than my ex-boyfriend?

While I didn’t come right out and say that I wanted him for sex, I let him know through my actions that it was a definite possibility. When he arrived, we both were a little reserved, but after he had a couple of beers, we loosened up. Sensing that we were on the same page, I made my move and tried to kiss him on the mouth, but he turned his head. I was confused but continued to touch him in a playful manner, to which he seemed receptive. When I climbed onto his lap, it was clear he was into the idea of having sex, so we made our way into the bedroom. 

When we first got together as college students, I was sexually enthusiastic but over time got a little colder and felt less attracted to him. I knew that he loved me — he told me so all the time, but I was insecure about my weight, so it was difficult for me to believe that he was telling the truth. He wrote me love letters that talked about how pretty and sexy I was on the one hand but how when I lost weight (which to be fair, I was always hoping to do) I’d be undeniably beautiful. In the end, I dumped him for his friend — which was something I regretted for a long time. 


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Although I hadn’t enjoyed sex with him that much when we were together, the time apart had given him some real skills and the sex during his visit was fantastic — except for the lack of kissing. I hadn’t realized before how intimate kissing was, and I missed having it in the mix. The more he denied me, the harder I worked to get him to kiss me. I put on flavored lipstick, I wore no lipstick, I licked my lips seductively while looking at him, but nothing seemed to persuade him to give me some lip action.

He stayed with me for several days, and each night followed the same pattern with us pretending that we had been overcome by the moment and had spontaneous sex. I felt as if he was treating me like I was a sex worker (which would be fine if that was what we had both consented to, but it wasn’t) and that by not kissing me he could keep an emotional distance.

I instinctively knew that if I gave him an ultimatum that he had to kiss me, then there would be no sex at all. During that week any sex was a priority, even if every time felt like a random hook-up.

After he, left, I couldn’t stop thinking about his not kissing me. The more I tried to analyze it, the more it translated in my brain to him not finding me attractive anymore. I had gained weight, and where before I had been cute and chubby, now I was undeniably fat.

He hadn’t insulted me or made any comment about my body at all, but I still went to the painful place of being fat-shamed and decided that was why he had refused to kiss me.

When I accused him of treating me like a prostitute, he turned it around and blamed me for trying to manipulate him and making him do something he hadn’t planned on doing. I was confused. Was he was paying me back for cheating on him — which was an immature way to deal with his hurt feelings — or was he trying to make me feel bad for wanting sex at a plus-size? Either way, it wasn’t flattering or empowering.

The sex with my ex wasn’t bad, but the pain never fully went away. I’ve talked to him about it since then, and he’s tried to explain his reasons, but mostly we chalk it up to him being an immature dick.

I have no definitive answer if this incident was shaming or if I’m interpreting it that way. But whether it was or wasn’t, refusing to kiss someone that you supposedly have some residual feelings for is a very shitty thing to do. Luckily, I was able to find a partner who loves me and who never feels the need to punish me for my body not being a certain size or for past injuries — and who is someone who wants to kiss me all the time. 


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