Ask for More PillowsSize, Sex, and Chemistry

They say no one can love you unless you first love yourself. I would edit that a bit: In order to receive love, you have to believe you deserve love. This can be incredibly complicated for fat people because almost everywhere we look in our society, from magazines to TV to movies to music, the message is clear: Fat bodies are unlovable. Rolls and cellulite thighs are a reason for massive life-endangering surgery. Fat people are lucky if anyone can overlook their bodies to make a connection. Or, for weirdos, fat is a fetish. It’s all bullshit messaging, but it’s pervasive.

I’ve been fat my entire adult life. And I’ve been loved, desired, worshipped, and adored, but I’ve had to train myself to receive love and desire not in spite of my body, but because of and through my body. Having incredible sex with lovers who desired my body has been a way to relax into a true sense of self, to let desire and love in. It’s also taught me a lot about how people fetishize fat bodies, pity fuck, feel ashamed of their desire for fat bodies, and other stuff that generally doesn’t make for fantastic sex experiences. So here are some best practices for fat sex.

To be one billion percent clear, this article is for people who self identify as fat, or are having sex with (or tryna have sex with) someone who self identifies as fat. This may also be of use to people who identify as soft, thick, swole, dimpled, curvy, bodacious, big, extra-large, massive, matronly, fetish, and people of size. But it’s written for fat people.

If you are fat:

Check in on your story about why you are fat. Some of us are fat because of genes, metabolism, body type. We are made to think fatness is purely a result of behavior and choices, but it isn’t. We can also be fat as a response to trauma, or as a result of addiction. Societal fatphobia can make it hard to get clear on the reasons we are fat, and how to feel about it. My fatness is equal parts inheritance and a common response to sexual trauma. Because there is an element of trauma in my fatness, it’s hard to embrace (it reminds me of the fear and pain I experienced because I was seen as desirable) and hard to give up (I feel safer in here).

For the sake of great sex (and a higher quality of life in general) be as healthy as you can be—this looks like being hydrated, well rested, flexible, active, and eating things that nourish your body. Learn that it’s totally possible to be healthy, or at least healthier, in a fat body. Find a doctor who pays attention to their data more than social perceptions on your body. If your heart and parts are doing good, the rest is cosmetic.

Learn to really look at your body. Look down directly at your body. Look in the mirror. Take pictures and videos of yourself and examine these. Look at pictures and videos others take, especially those where people say you look good. You are looking for the good. You are looking for your own appeal. You are looking through a layered web of conditioning that says you are not beautiful, sexy, or desirable. You are disrupting the lies and distortions. You are a miraculous life form pounding with blood and thread with nerves that thrum with pleasure. You’re blessed with more landscape in which to feel pleasure.

Map the pleasure of your body. Use your own fingers, feathers, scarves, whips, back scratchers, or water. Get very familiar with the pressures, temperatures, and pace that feels good to you. Grab handfuls of your own flesh and feel how soft and solid you are. Center your own body in your desire—you are not here just to please someone who sleeps with you. You are a pleasure system!

Learn what you desire. Because fat people are so often made to feel undesirable, we can feel lucky if anyone expresses desire for us. But scarcity-based gratitude does not make for mutually mind losing sex. You deserve to have sex that flows from your desire. Pay attention to who generates heat and pull in your own body. Watch pornography, read erotica, write and create your own erotic narratives and imagery. Fatness may or may not be part of your desires—you have the right to have preferences, too.

Understand consent, beyond the actual act of sex. When you live in a society that looks at you with surprise and disgust even when you are fully dressed, much less in a swimsuit or short shorts, you might need additional consent practices with partners around how you get undressed, or how certain parts of your body are touched. Practice saying the words, “I prefer to undress myself.” “I keep my skirt on, that makes me feel really hot.” “I don’t like to be touched on my chins until we know each other better. I’ll let you know if I feel comfortable with it.”

Pay attention to what your body needs to feel supported and at ease during sex. Do you need extra pillows under your partner’s hips or your knees for riding on top. Side by side oral sex? Are there positions that don’t work for you at all? Sometimes we hold back on expressing discomfort because there’s a little voice of shame in bed with us saying, “You should be able to do that because ‘normal’ people can. You’re lazy.” Just roll your luscious body on top of that little voice and get comfortable so you can relax into your next orgasm.

Focus on sensation. Your head might have a hard time letting go of the barrage of wrong you’ve pushed through to get to this moment. But you made it here, so drop your attention to how your skin feels, how your lover’s hands and body feel on your skin, every point of contact, all the signals going off throughout your body that say “yesssss.”

Let your experience of pleasure be whatever size it actually is. You don’t have to perform being big and over the top, screaming to wake the neighbors. And you don’t have to shrink any part of yourself, your pleasure, or your needs—neighbors be damned. Your desire is its own compelling force. Your pleasure is the great gift in your body, and you have the right to feel it for as long as you can handle it.

If you are having sex with a fat person:

Make sure you’re there because you want this person. Your desire shouldn’t be rooted in pity, clinical curiosity, or obligation. If you can’t feel authentic chemistry with this person, go figure out what that’s about. Don’t reinforce messages that we are undesirable, should stay covered, are unfuckable, especially not in moments of naked intimacy; it’s damaging.

Touch us all over. It’s easy to focus on abundant breasts or that banging jiggling ass, but don’t forget that the whole body is an erogenous zone. Use the language for our bodies that we use. Don’t jump straight to “I love fat chicks” or “Once you go fat the rest just look flat.” We get to claim fatness, so we get to set the standards for language around our bodies. In fact, there’s no need to disparage any other bodies to convince us you like our fat bodies. Being fat doesn’t make you a real woman. All humans are real people.

Stay deeply attuned to consent. We might need to undress slow, or have certain clothing combinations that make us feel really confident. We’re showing you something we’ve had to learn to treasure and share, after we’ve been taught it is undesirable, something we don’t know that you’ve ever seen before. Even if you’re excited to see it all and want us to know it, let us set the pace for unveiling our bodies.

Check in on comfort and trust our responses. You might be amazed at how far our legs can open, or find a new pleasure through our use of pillows and wedges and different angles. ome levels of fatness require slower movement or mindful balancing, so don’t throw us around unless we like that kind of thing. Don’t act like you can hold us if you can’t—and don’t hold back if you can!

Make sure we’re satisfied. We’re often made to feel like our needs are greedy and unreasonable. Let us know we can be voracious in the pursuit of pleasure with you. “Can I have more of you?” or “Have I satisfied your every need?” are questions that work.

Finally, don’t curve us in public. Privacy is cool, but don’t let other people’s ideas about fatness impact your decisions on discretion. Claim us at the same way you’d claim anyone else who turned you out.

Homework: Check in your fatphobia and get some (or love up a fat person) today! Fat people, feel free to add more in the comments.

by adrienne maree brown
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adrienne maree brown is a pleasure activist, writer and facilitator living in detroit. Co-editor of Octavia’s Brood, author of Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds 

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