Sex and the Fat Girl: I Touch Myself

On Facebook today, Marilyn Wann shared an article on CNN.com about the health benefits of touch. She added "If being fat makes a person 'untouchable,' then that's a powerful confounding variable for claims about weight and health." I definitely agree, and of course media don't present fat people as worthy of physical contact particularly of a sexual nature. However, I think we do need to recognize that sometimes we shield ourselves from anticipated rejection by shunning the desire for touch, which is in and of itself unhealthy. It's not always that no one wants to feel the tactile pleasures of your body. We have to open ourselves up to receiving the sensory experience of intimate touch, which requires us to feel safe not only with a partner but with ourselves. Unfortunately, society doesn't make this an easy job.

Reading the article, you can see that it's not just sexual touch that's beneficial, which to me offers hope that you can begin to appreciate how it feels to let that touching in without having to immediately immerse yourself in a situation that you find uncomfortable. When you've used the defense mechanism of bottling up the desire to be touched for so long, it takes time to reintroduce yourself to it. It doesn't matter if you're partnered or not, things like getting a neck rub from a friend, hugging family members or petting a dog can clearly be done without the need of a romantic relationship. Since this column focuses on sex, I want to point out that in the article, the author mentions that solo sex is beneficial as well, which is my number one way of connecting with my body.

I suggest that any fat girl get down with masturbation. Not only do you connect in a tactile way with the pleasure centers of your body, but the endorphins and other chemicals released make you feel so damn good, it's impossible not to eventually come to find pleasure in your body automatically. It teaches you what you like and what you don't, which is enormously beneficial when you have sex with a partner. You know exactly which spots do what, what fantasies enhance the experience, and you learn how to exist as a sexual being. Honestly, I was a lights-out only girl before I started regularly masturbating, and now I'm totally comfortable with the lights on because, basically, I've seen that shit before. And when you find pleasure in your own body you care less about what negative things the person you're about to have sex with is thinking about your body.

Masturbation is not a cure-all for your body image issues. It's part of a healthy self-esteem diet that includes other more cerebral aspects of fat acceptance. It's important to note that the defense mechanism of avoiding touch isn't an invalid coping method, but it's one that ultimately harms us. It's an insidious consequence of our fat-negative society, and when we recognize that, we can work toward changing our attitudes towards touch.

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Comments

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I enjoyed this article,

I enjoyed this article, though as you said "Masturbation is not a cure-all for your body image issues." It would be great if you could offer tips on how to improve self-esteem. As a former "fat" girl all of my life I struggled with these very issues, it wasn't that people didn't want to touch me necessarily, but that I didn't want to be touched because I felt I didn't deserve to be touched. I also felt that I shouldn't masturbate because I didn't deserve that either and didn't like to be reminded how fat I was. I know that I can't be the only person that's struggled with that particular issue, the undeservingness of being fat.
So... of course what did I do? Well of course the ever eternal "diet." But also, I started working out and even when I wasn't losing weight, just the mere fact of moving my body made me feel more worthy of touch and helped me get over some of my issues. Yeah, there was some therapy in between there, but I can't boast more about the natural endorphin benefits of working out. I'm not telling people they need to workout to lose weight, just that working out helps boost your mood and in turn positive feelings about yourself!
Thanks for the article!

Ask a fat girl!

Hi Nicole,

Tasha offered several tips for improving self-esteem (along with a whole bunch of other things) in her Ask a Fat Girl posts, so you might want to check those out if you haven't already!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Awesome Article!

I really liked your point about how important touch is, but that fat people are often not touched and how it really is a part of the oppression of fat people. I also encourage everyone to masturbate! lol I know that sounds funny, but it is important to know your own body at the very least. Masturbation for the win! haha

As a fat girl, the idea of

As a fat girl, the idea of "deserving" body acceptance is something that I too struggle with. I feel guilty taking up space, as if only attractive people can visible, and I feel guilty wanting sex, because how could someone fat like me feel sexual or be found attractive. I am starting to take more pride in my body, but my biggest battle is allowing myself to feel comfortable in my own skin, and embracing what I do have. I may be fat, but I will not NOT enjoy sex, especially if my partner is my own hand!

A great point!

I think it is very important to point out that it isn't just us fat girls that don't touch...in this day and age where so many of us live on our own, rush from place to place, get everything to go, and now even "face to face" conversations are done via mobile devices, so many of us go days without any actual physical contact with another human being.

I do agree that it is more of an issue though, I become overly self conscious around my colleagues when the thinnest ones I work with start talking about how they need to lose weight and start talking about imagined cellulite on their thighs and invisible stomachs. Then they ask me if something is wrong and if I need a hug... The last thing I want is for them to come near me. How to get over that? It is not just protecting my own insecurities, but apparently I am damaging my own well being.

I just have one suggestion

I just have one suggestion for a teeny tiny edit...

And when you find pleasure in your own body you care less about what negative things the person you're about to have sex with is thinking about your body.

I feel this should read "you care less about what negative things the person you're about to have sex with is could be thinking about your body"

Being fat and sexually active, I'm sure you're also aware that so many of the negative things we assume sexual partners are going to think about our bodies are totally unfounded.

Other than me being pernickity, absolutely loving the series, and really hope it gets through to as many people as possible!