Posts Tagged ‘stereotypes’

I at least thought about writing this awhile ago and couldn’t remember if I actually did or not, but I tried looking and didn’t see any post about this, so I’m assuming it was one of those things I thought “I should write a blog post about that” and never did.

I’m fat. It would make perfect sense in dating for me to want to date people who have a preference for people with my body type. Yet whenever I come across someone who self-identifies as a “chubby chaser”, or says they want a big girl, a bbw, or whatever else, I tend to avoid pursuing anything with that person. I actually have the same reaction to women who say they are only looking for femmes/lipstick lesbians/girly girls/”a real girl/woman” despite the fact that I am also femme, and the reasons are actually very similar.

Finding Someone Sexually Attractive Does Not Equal Respect

Ok, this probably isn’t really a “reason” so much as a side problem- but it is bizarre to me how many people have a preference for something in a sexual/romantic partner without having respect for people with that characteristic.

I’m starting with this because this post was largely inspired by a woman I met from Tinder not long ago. The fat issue was actually one of the least offensive things during the date, yet it still was offensive.

I met this woman from tinder and almost immediately she starts complaining about how fat her ex was, and how she was so fat because she ate all the time, and she complained about getting fatter, and so she just needed to stop shoving food in her mouth then, and on and on about how fat her ex was as a negative thing. Which was really awkward for me as I’m sitting there quite obviously fat, yet wanting to avoid any confrontation over this because that’s the last thing I want when meeting someone from a dating app. When I meet someone from a dating app/website and things do not go well, I just want to be able to be polite until it’s over and then never talk to you again.

This would have been bad enough, but was actually worse to me given that right toward the end of our meeting she starts telling me how attractive she finds big girls, like me, and has always dated big girls except once she dated a thin girl but did not enjoy it or find her attractive.

… You prefer big girls like me, yet still use fat as an insult after breaking up with your ex? It’s a good thing up until things go bad and then you will have no problem using it as an insult?

This seems to be a not uncommon problem. I suspect coming in part from treating fat women as a fetish, and objectifying us with that, and not seeing us as real, full people because of that.

I said a lot of this applies to me aversion to women who say they only want a femme and the same does apply with that too. Just as some butch women may prefer dating a femme, they still can internalize negative ideas about traditional feminine characteristics.

I’d rather date someone who sees me and respects me as a person first and foremost rather than a sexual object.

They Tend to be Attracted to a Specific Stereotype

I obviously cannot speak for all “chubby chasers” or women who say they only date femmes, I can only speak to my experience with people who identify this way that has caused me to have a negative reaction to people identifying as such.

Also, in both cases my reaction is not to the preference, but the sort of person who states front and center- and there does seem to be a difference (in my experience) between people who just have a preference and are more likely to pursue dating/sexual relationships with people with those characteristics, and those who go out of there way to announce such, typically on a dating profile.

In my experience people who have that strong of a “bbws only!!!!!” or “femmes only!!!!” preference tend to have a very specific stereotype of what that means, and I don’t often fit it, and I don’t want to.

For example, from the times I have dated someone who preferred “big girls” they would often discourage me from working out, because part of the appeal of a “big girl” was being soft, not having hard muscle under the fat. There is nothing wrong with having that preference, but I don’t fit it, and more importantly I don’t want to and I don’t want to be with someone who tries to push me into fitting the stereotype they have of a big girl that they are attracted to.

The same goes for femmes. While I’m certainly more femme than androgynous or butch, I will not always fit the “girly girl” stereotype, I don’t want to always fit that stereotype and I am so incredibly not interested in a queer relationship with strict gender roles around the butch vs the femme in the relationship.

It seems I always run into these strict stereotypes with people who identify as “chubby chasers” or make a big deal about only wanting to date femmes, which is the main reason I tend to avoid wanting to get involved with people who identify that way.

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This is one of those things that is said all the time in fitness forums, articles, and books, and it usually makes me want to scream.

Usually it comes in the form of reassuring women that weight lifting will not make them “bulky”. But it can take other forms as well, and regardless of the reasoning it still annoys the hell out of me.

A lot of women who lift and want to build noticeable muscle do find this to be true. But not all women are the same.

The reasoning behind this is that women don’t have enough testosterone so building any muscle for us, all of us, takes a long more work and takes a lot longer. But fun fact, “hormone levels” aren’t actually exactly equal among all women. In fact, they can vary quite a lot from woman to woman. We are not actually all clones.

Sometimes I wish that I could see muscle growth more quickly, but overall I don’t usually feel like I have a very hard time building muscle. And never have. It’s always seemed like I could see more muscle growth more quickly than this well known fitness fact seems to imply I should.

I mentioned recently some changes I’ve seen with my body from weight lifting. Which is also what got me thinking about this topic today. Because according to many folks, what I notice is just not possible because I’m a woman.

Besides being fairly intimately familiar with what my body looks like and feels like, I take measurements semi-regularly, and noticed first awhile back that my arms (measured around my bicep) were getting surprisingly bigger (especially surprising given I don’t specifically train biceps) meanwhile my arms look and feel more ‘toned’, more recently my thighs have increased in size at the same time I can notice that my hamstrings look and feel much larger.

Which I’ve actually been told by random dudes (actually all men- which makes sense because clearly they are the experts on women)  even though they don’t know me, that this is just not possible. As a woman, I have not been lifting long enough to build enough muscle for me to have that significant muscle growth. Clearly I’m just getting fatter and lying to myself about it.

I don’t buy it. I don’t buy it because unlike them I know my body.

And to be clear, it’s not that I need to prove to anyone that I’m not getting fatter or that it would be any of their business if I were. That’s not what this is about. What this is about is that it’s really annoying to get excited about building muscle (because I get excited about that!) and being told that I obviously just don’t know my own body and can’t tell the difference between fat and muscle because women just can’t build muscle like that (source: everyone just knows that).

This whole idea that all women’s bodies work exactly the same such that we can make this universal claim that women don’t build muscle easily just needs to die already.

I was hanging out with a friend once, and we were driving somewhere in my car with my music playing when a song I like started- Emotional Girl by Terri Clark. It’s a song that came out when I was 9 and I’ve been listening to it ever since then. My friend starts telling me how he can’t believe I would like this song. I’m confused, he’s hear enough of my music he should know by now that I like country music. That’s not it. He explains that this song supposedly represents everything I disagree with because I get upset at sexist stereotypes and this song is saying they are true.

Except not. I’ve listened to this song a lot. No where in the song does she says “women just more emotional than men!” or “women can’t control their emotions!” She sings about herself being emotional, and the artist happens to be a woman (or “girl” in the lyrics of the song). This led to an argument about whether or not it “proves” a stereotype for an individual to meet it, which he claimed it did- I still find interesting considering how many stereotypes he would be “proving” under that logic.

But I’m reminded of this conversation from time to time because while most people would never say they think a single individual displaying a characteristic means that proves a stereotype of all people like them in some way will have that characteristic, people still are inclined to take such things as evidence that their stereotype is accurate.

And this is one of the problems with stereotypes- making people in certain groups feel like everything they do has to be defined by that stereotype by way of disproving it.

You tell me women are just too emotional compared to men, and now I’m apparently under some obligation to never show emotion to prove your stereotype is wrong and show that I am worthy of being treated equally. And suddenly an entire group of people are not allowed varying personalities and characteristics because if even a few fit the stereotype for the whole group that is taken as proof the stereotype is accurate.

I’m writing about this because in a lot of ways it took some work to say “so what if I fit your stereotype?” For a long time I did feel like I had to behave in certain ways so I wouldn’t be considered a stereotype. But the thing is, the problem with stereotypes is the stereotype, not me being whoever I am.

And who I am sometimes fits certain stereotypes and sometimes it doesn’t. I wrote recently about musing about fitting the stereotype of the man-hating, lesbian feminist in combat boots, and the thing about that stereotype is there was a time when I did feel like I had to counter that stereotype personally and would be afraid of fitting it. Of course I still don’t fit the stereotype perfectly- usually the stereotype also includes “hairy legged” and I do shave. But, that’s kind of how individuals work.

Some stereotypes about women don’t fit me at all, some do. Some stereotypes about lesbians fits me, some don’t. Et cetera. And that’s fine.

There is nothing wrong with being an emotional person, so why should I be bothered if I fit that stereotype? There is nothing wrong with being a lesbian or wearing combat boots, so why be bothered if I fit those stereotypes?

Also fitting one part of a stereotype does not mean all the things people think about that are accurate.  See for example: fat lesbians do not prove the stereotype that lesbians are just gay because we are too fat and ugly to get a man. Being a fat lesbian doesn’t even prove that lesbians are as a group always fat (even if most of us are, your stereotype still sucks because it doesn’t ft all lesbians) and it certainly doesn’t prove all the extrapolation beyond that about the supposed meaning of our bodies and sexuality.

The problem is with people who make and operate under stereotypes about whole groups of people, not me for being who  I am instead of always trying to be the exact opposite of every stereotype that could maybe be applied to me.

I really need to stop reading things some people say. I read a discussion online about weight discrimination in employment, and the usual comments about how weight discrimination in employment is justified came up.

So for purposes of this posts let’s go ahead and assume you can tell from looking at someone exactly what they eat and how much they workout (which isn’t true).

So the argument some people have made is that they would rather hire someone who looks “fit” than someone who is fat because you can tell that a “fit” person is organized (because they are organized enough to get to the gym and keep their nutrition in check), they are dedicated (because they are dedicated to working out and eating well), they will always be on time (because… I really don’t know?), are more social, so they will get along with people at the office (because… again I don’t see the connection)et cetera.

But what bugs me about this is the idea that dedication (organized, timely, whatever) can only mean one thing- dedication to your appearance.

Really? Because unless your job is built around working out or physical appearance, what does that dedication mean?

Even if we assume that a fat person by virtue of being fat cannot be dedicated and organized in regards to working out and what they eat, that doesn’t mean they aren’t dedicated to anything- like idk, maybe their job!

I mean, let’s assume all of these assumptions are true- by that logic employers should discriminate against people who look fit. After all, that much dedication to never missing a workout and always making them means they will probably be less willing to come in early and stay late (encroaching on gym time), work extra hours, work from home (too busy at the gym instead), and since they spend so much time at the gym they probably don’t have as much experience socializing outside a gym environment. Unlike that fat job candidate who is obviously willing to put other things, like their work, over working on how their body looks, and is probably a lot better at socializing over food at office parties and events.

Obviously those arguments are bullshit, but they are logically consistent with the assumptions being made about people based on appearance.

Dedication comes in many forms. I’ve mentioned before the issue of priorities. Not everyone’s priorities are the same. And that’s ok. According to the logic of this person if I take time away from work, research, and/or writing to work out that shows dedication. Well it shows dedication to my workout. It doesn’t show dedication to my work or research though. But if I skip a workout (which frankly, I often do) because I prioritize that time on getting work, research, and writing done, according to this person I’m not showing dedication to my career, because the only dedication that matters is dedication to working out and maintaining low body fat.

Though I’m a bit backward in organization, I’ve had several people comment that my home gym is the most organized part of my house. Meanwhile my home office is covered in boxes. Organized in one area does not always translate into organization in all areas.

Frankly, I think employers should consider me skipping workouts to work on things that will advance my career a good quality rather than prioritizing a dedication to maintaining low body fat, which has nothing to do with my career, at the expense of other things.

There are only so many hours in a day. All people cannot do all things. it would be great if i could fit in everything I need to all the time without having to sacrifice somewhere, but that’s not possible. So sometimes that means workouts get skipped because I have other things on my plate that take priority. That is not a lack of dedication or organization, it’s just a matter of prioritization.