Updated: July 19, 2013 3:26PM
Fat is a four-letter word.
People who wouldn’t dream of making fun of a homosexual, who would die before pointing out a person with a disability, people who consider themselves tolerant, all-embracing, evolved and benevolent somehow have no trouble sniggering at a fat person. Especially a fat woman.
Fat, to some, isn’t about weight; it’s about character. To them, if you’re fat, you have none. If you’re fat, you’re also sloppy, lazy, smelly and sweaty, and you lack willpower. You take up too much room on airplanes and in elevators, and it’s impossible to get around you on escalators.
People wouldn’t tell a bald man that he’s bald. No one would dare tell a parent that his child is ugly. We don’t point out to our friends or neighbors or colleagues that their teeth are yellow. But a viewer in Wisconsin found it necessary to email a TV anchor to tell her that she was fat. Like she didn’t know.
Readers have told me that if a woman puts anything more than “svelte,” “toned” or “petite” on her dating profile, she won’t get very many responses. If she describes herself as “pleasingly plump,” “Rubenesque,” “full-figured,” or — God forbid — “plus-sized,” she can forget getting any responses at all.
Which brings us to Roberta. She’s been heavy all her life. At her fattest, she weighed 465 pounds, which, clinically speaking, is morbidly obese. Through gastric bypass, she got down to 180 pounds. She’s gained some of that weight back and is now about 250.
But no matter what her weight, Roberta never lacked male companionship. “I’ve dated quite a bit,” she says. She had one live-in boyfriend for eight years, several other long-term relationships, and a husband since 2005.
She knows where her bigness isn’t considered a crime against humanity, but something to be admired, desired and coveted.
“What most people don’t know is that there’s a whole subculture out there for big people.”
Before the Internet was popular, Roberta met several men through newspaper ads specifically for the round and proud. After Internet dating took off, she signed up at sites specifically for large people. She met more men through them. There were also dances marketed to the overweight among us.
“The dances were held at a hotel. They were all fine and fun. But like anything, you have to watch out for yourself. This is where common sense comes in. You can’t be so desperate that you’ll take anything!
“Twice a year they’d have bashes, which were more like mini-conventions for big people. I would say 65 to 75 percent of people were there to hook up.
“If that’s all you’re looking for, have at it! But I wanted more. I wasn’t interested in the guy who wanted a ‘meaningful’ one-night relationship while still married to his wife.”
At her fattest, Roberta had a T-shirt that said, “I’m Fat But You’re Ugly And I Can Diet.”
“I still have it,” says Roberta, “even though it’s too big.”
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