Fat girls.

(Note:  There’s an excellent essay over at Feminist Critics that touches on some of the themes of this post:  Is “Confident” the Male Analogue to “Thin”?)

One response I’ve heard to the “nice guy” lament is that there are women interested in sexual relationships with shy or “less dominant” men, but these men choose to focus instead on a narrow group of conventionally attractive women.  As Dee said, in reply to my last post:

In my experience, almost all men think that they deserve a perfect woman, however they define that – and it almost always includes the kind of appearance that will impress their friends. You may not have noticed that there are women out there who have all kinds of wonderful qualities but who are also not getting laid. They may be shy. They may be not put a lot of effort into their wardrobe and makeup. They may be fatter or skinnier than is fashionable.

There’s more than a few grains of truth to this.  Here’s Dan Savage:


I’m reminded of an experience I had when I was nineteen, the summer after my first year of college.  I was sitting around with a group of friends, having one of those late-afternoon, desultory conversations about nothing in particular.  Someone (might have been me) mentioned the possibility of dating “big girls,” and “Nick” – a friend of a friend, not really a “friend” – smiled and said that “fat chicks are like mopeds, fun to ride, but you don’t want to be seen on one.”

At the time, I didn’t see what Nick had said as particularly offensive.  He was just offering a bit of banal, received wisdom – stating the obvious, and doing so with a smile.  And that’s the interesting thing about the enforcement of social norms.  More often that not, it’s done gently and with a smile.  You don’t realize any “norm” is being “enforced” except in retrospect, from the distance of many years.  At nineteen, my self-concept was of someone who didn’t really care what other people thought.  But of course I did care.  And looking back, to my teens and twenties, I remember that on occasion I’d meet a woman for whom I could have cultivated an attraction, but who I didn’t pursue because she was not the conventionally attractive woman I sensed I was supposed to be attracted to.  Despite my independent-minded self-concept, at that age I still would have felt embarrassment dating a woman who was fat or not conventionally attractive, despite my own feelings of attraction to her.  And that’s unfortunate.

What I’m not saying is that my sexual preferences were created by social pressures.  Regardless of what my friends said or what I saw on television, I’d still have been drawn to the “conventionally attractive” women I’d longed for in my youth.  But my sexual preferences were narrowed by social pressures.  And I suspect that the sexual preferences of women are narrowed by social pressures as well, to the detriment of men who are shy or sexually inexperienced.

And here’s where I’d like to clarify something.  In my last post, I wrote that “both men and women have instinctual, biological influences on their behavior, and for many young women this often leads to a preference for socially dominant men.”  What I’d written would have been more accurate if I’d said, “both men and women have instinctual, biological influences on their behavior, as well as social influences on their behavior.”  Harmful social influences can be changed if we understand them.  So, if I’d spelled out that social pressures can influence women’s sexual preferences in a negative way, then perhaps more readers would have seen my post as written for the purpose of furthering a dialogue that might open a few minds, rather than as an attack on feminism and an attempt to “blame women,” as Hugo and others seem to have interpreted it.  To give a counterexample, when feminists say that men should change their behavior – e.g. quit making cracks about “fat chicks,” because, you know, that’s harmful – such a suggestion isn’t properly labeled as a “blame men” approach.

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12 Responses to Fat girls.

  1. Lathe of Heaven says:

    Interestingly, a discussion that largely overlaps this one recently appeared on a blog you might be interested to read: http://www.hookingupsmart.com/ It’s mostly a day-to-day advice blog for younger women, but also sports a well-above-average set of thoughtful commenters, both male and female. Here’s a comment in the middle of the subject:

    http://www.hookingupsmart.com/2011/03/03/relationshipstrategies/if-hes-not-into-you-does-that-make-him-a-jerk/#comment-33112

    The language at HUS may run hotter than you prefer, but people there are actually able to exchange ideas. You might like it.

  2. Darque says:

    Two things:

    1. Dan Savage is an incredibly cool guy.

    2. Great feminist analysis.

  3. Jim says:

    I love that blog. It’s good for a lot of reasons, but what I appreciate is the decent, human tone and the serious effort to figure out how things really work.

  4. John E. says:

    This vintage TV commercial:

    Is there anything going on today that is as blatant as that message?

  5. Xakudo says:

    A couple of months ago I wrote a personal anecdote about my own experience with this “ashamed of dating not conventionally attractive women” phenomenon:

    http://undelicatemusings.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/the-fat-girl-and-womens-attractiveness/

    It was really strange for me when I realized what was going on, that a lot of what I was feeling was external rather than internal.

  6. Clarence says:

    Since the percentages of those shut out of the sexual market place nearly entirely seem to be around 40 percent for men and 20 percent for women, I don’t think this idea that if “the nice guys” wouldn’t go for supermodels they’d have so much success.

    I can tell you as a former nice guy I always assumed the real pretty girls were “out of my league” and would never ever approach them, and that I’ve dated more than one obese girl in my life. I’m afraid this complaint is disingenuous. The average guy should be good enough for the average woman.. in other words, everyone should pair up at their attractiveness level. That this does not happen has less to do with shy awkward nice guys chasing the queen bee of the cheerleaders than it does the fact that the vast majority of young females are attractive enough to score one night stands with the top 15 or 20 percent of men (in terms of attractiveness, not always character) and dream this will get them a boyfriend. More fools, they. Fact is, most guys don’t have that high a bar when it comes to getting laid, yet many guys experience so much rejection they give up trying , often for months or years at a time.

  7. Clarence says:

    By the way:

    I’ve observed that the vast majority of female fat shaming is done by the more sexually attractive men or the women who compete for their affections. It is also sometimes done consciously as a strategy by some PUA’s and PUA bloggers.

  8. testify222 says:

    Clarence hits the nail on the head. Feminists always counter with “well non-conventional women also don’t get laid” which is complete bs because women with low SMV(sociosexual market value) can easily get laid by men who are way above their SMV, whereas men with low SMV usually struggle to get sex from any woman at all.

    The sad reality is women are collectively more sexually attractive to men collectively than the reverse. Humans are descended from twice as many women as men primarily for this reason. Women are hypergamous, i.e they are really only attracted to the top few alphas and will simply “share” these men instead of “settling” for a beta. Women do really view alphas to be on their level, and so she doesn’t see herself how he and others view her (as a little groupie or wannabe) but as on his social level, and thus potentially desirable for relationships with the alpha and/or men on the alpha level.

    Also, when women and feminists whine endlessly that “men don’t like regular women” what they really mean is that “alphas don’t like regular women, and especially not for relationships”.

    The Dove campaigns for “real beauty” etc are really female hypergamy + their subsconsious insecurity that alphas only really select the very top women for relationships. “Changing standards” is all about getting the top men to like/accept/validate average and below average SMV women.

    Because there are lots of regular men (betas) who like curvy/chunky and otherwise non-conventionally attractive women, but of course the approval of beta males is not what women are seeking.

  9. Politicalguineapig says:

    Personally, as a fat girl, I’d assume that any man who expressed interest in me would be a lying scumbag. He’s not interested in *me*; he’s interested in the sex that might occur, and he’d dump me in a second for anyone who’s well-endowed and skinny. Love ain’t worth it, anyway, so it’s not a big deal.

  10. David says:

    Skinny is boring.

  11. Well, I think when “Nick” said “fat girls are like mopeds, fun to ride but you don’t want to be seen on one,” he was lending moral support to a pretty crappy thing that young heterosexual men sometimes do to fat women: Have sex with them, but keep them at arms length before and after the sexual act, and refuse to be seen with them. That’s a pretty lousy way to treat someone, and from the tone of your comment, I suspect you’ve been treated that way at some point. And I think there’s a lot of truth to what Dan Savage says in the above video. In their late 20s, for the most part, men tend to start being less concerned with what “everyone else” thinks, and are more willing to date the “fat girls” they were attracted to in the first place. (Because, think about it, if a “fat girl” is “fun to ride” that pretty much means *you’re attracted to her*, otherwise she wouldn’t be so fun to ride, right?)
    So, Politicalguineapig, co-sign what Dan said. Love’s totally worth it, or so they say.

  12. Politicalguineapig says:

    Actually, Miguel, I’ve never had that happen to me. I figure your scenario is exactly what’ll occur, so I tend to ignore guys who approach me. Besides, most guys my age (-30) are basically recovering frat boys or hipsters. Read: shallow and frivolous. I’m too busy and too broke for a relationship, so it’s not a big loss.
    I don’t think Dan is right. If a woman wants to get ahead, love is a liability. In fact it’s downright dangerous.

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