Perspectives on plus-size dating, from an actual plus-size dater

27 Oct

In light of yesterday’s controversial piece by Maura Kelly, I’m posting a story by Jennifer Abramowitz (as told to me), an amazing plus-size woman who recently spoke openly to me about her experience dating in New York City. This piece was bought by a national women’s magazine, then killed, and I think now is the time to post it.


I was on a date recently and a woman sat down at the next table, catty-corner to me. I was embarrassed and annoyed, already contemplating how I was going to get out at the end. I looked for other routes. A regular-size person wouldn’t think about that.

But I’m a plus-size girl. I’m also a publicist, an extrovert, a bargain-shopper extraordinaire and an unbelievably good friend. But what’s most visible about me, what defines me before I even open my mouth, is my size. I’ve dieted my whole life and can’t remember a time when I wasn’t concerned about my weight.

I grew up with a mother who told me I was amazing, who said I could accomplish whatever I wanted to. She was supportive and loving. But when I was a teenager, she also started saying, “You need to lose weight. It will be harder when you get older to find your partner.”

I went to weight-loss camp when I was young and was introduced to boys and the bases. It was a different world there: Size wasn’t so much of an issue, though there was a hierarchy, with the skinnier girls at the top. I had a few boyfriends every summer, and when I got really thin, I suddenly had a boyfriend back at school, too. That lasted for maybe a year. After that it was back to the old way, and I didn’t have a boyfriend anymore.

I didn’t date at all in college. I was always overweight, but when I got to Vassar I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. I didn’t gain a freshman 15, I gained a freshman 50. Then my dad died when I was 22 and I wasn’t interested in anything anymore. I was lost.

It wasn’t until I was 28 that I decided I wanted to date again, after I got back in touch with people from camp. Some of them were very heavy, but they were married and successful in relationships. I was like, Why am I not dating?

I started out on Jdate but worried that maybe people didn’t fully see my body type, even though I never lied or showed a picture that wasn’t me. Some jerk once IMed and asked, “Are there really guys out there who are attracted to you?”

Friends of mine were setting one another up on dates but not me. It makes such an obvious statement—that no one would ever find me attractive because of my weight. I guess it’s hard to say to somebody, “I have a great girl for you, but she’s fat—are you okay with that?” That makes me extremely uncomfortable and angry. People are image-conscious, and it takes a very secure man to advertise his preference for a woman of size. No matter how many magazines start featuring plus-size women, in mainstream white culture, a woman who’s heavy isn’t considered as attractive as a woman who’s not. Ultimately everybody’s looking to get to the next level, and for many men in New York, a larger woman is the bottom level, regardless of what she’s like.

There’s a misconception that plus-size girls are insecure in their bodies. Yes, there have been times I’ve felt uncomfortable at bars because guys talk to my friends and not me, and if I notice a group of men snickering at me, that always makes me upset. But my size has never stopped me.

When I started on BBW (Big Beautiful Women) dating sites, I got crazy amounts of e-mails. Before that, I didn’t understand that there were people out there who preferred a round body with curves and boobs and a butt and lots of fat. Now I know that the skinny white girl is not the ideal to everyone. There are cultures and races that prefer plus-size women. I’ve had really in-shape guys, bodybuilders even, contact me. I think they like the juxtaposition of hard and soft. They like the feeling of being with someone who’s bigger than they are and the voluptuousness of another body.

A man approached me on the subway when I was 24 and wanted my phone number desperately. He kept saying over and over, “I think you’re beautiful.” My first instinct was, This is a joke, someone put him up to it—which says a lot about where I was at that point. It’s not where I am now. Experience, age and understanding that a lot of people are attracted to me because of (or in spite of) my size takes away some of the nervousness I used to feel on dates.

There can be challenges, though, being bigger. Sex isn’t always a physically easy encounter. I was once fooling around with someone I’d been out with a few times. I was trying to move over him, and he said, “Your weight is hurting me.” That brought me back to reality. I thought I looked great that night. I was wearing a new outfit and these really hot tights, and in one fell swoop, he brought me down a little bit. I was surprised because we’d never talked about my size being an issue. And a lot of men who are attracted to plus-size women love the feeling of weight.

There’s the whole dominant-submissive side of fetishizing a plus-size woman, wanting her to be in control, to be physically bigger. And I’ve been contacted by men on BBW sites who ask me if I’m open to a feeding relationship, which I’m not. It means they want to be with somebody who likes to eat, who they can feed and would consider gaining a lot of weight. They get off on the visual of a fat woman eating.

But I think there’s a fine line between someone who’s a fetishist and someone who’s not. I grapple with the term because what’s the difference between a fetish and a preference? I once went out with a guy I met on Nerve, then didn’t hear from him again. I e-mailed and he wrote back, “I had fun making out with you—if you’re ever up for some more fun, let me know.” So then I knew that’s all he really wanted. He wasn’t like, “Hi, I’m a fetishist,” he just wants to have sex with random plus-size women. Guys are always attracted for some reason. Everybody is. So what’s the difference between hooking up with a fetishist and just hooking up with someone casually? Is someone who likes plus-size girls a fetishist just because his preference isn’t mainstream?

I’ve been seeing someone now who’s given me a newfound perspective. He definitely cares about me and likes spending time with me, but if he could stare at my ass all day long, he would. He’s opened my eyes to the fact that there are a lot of men out there who prefer plus-size women and that the pool isn’t as small as I thought it was. And I feel very secure and confident when I’m with him.


19 Responses to “Perspectives on plus-size dating, from an actual plus-size dater”

  1. Erica October 27, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    Jennifer’s story is simply fantastic and completely relateable. It’s almost as if she was telling MY dating story (although I never encountered anyone with a real fetish) and it was wonderful to read it in print.

    One thing that I would like to comment on is the mini-story about the guy from Nerve. To be brutally honest, I don’t think he was a fetishist; I think he just wanted an easy lay. It’s a little sad to think back on the more promiscuous times in my life because they walked hand-in-hand with my self esteem issues. In my mid to late 20s I saw many of my thin friends in happy relationships, marrying the men of their dreams. In the meantime, I felt alone and rather desperate. I prefer to call it my “Bridget Jones Days.” Most guys who flirted with me ended up in my bed, if only because for one night I felt special and beautiful. But, the next morning, when the beer goggles wore off, I was the fat girl again, an annecdotal mistake that no guy wanted to share with his buddies. I think those men could sense my desperation and took advantage of it, knowing they could move on to the next best thing as quickly as I could hand them a business card and say, “call me.”

    A few years ago, I met a guy and fell into the same trap. He was tall, handsome, athletic, well-built, and super sexy. And of course, I slept with him on the second date. In the morning, as the light of reality peeked through the windows of his basement apartment, I quickly got out of bed and wrapped myself in a sheet so that he wouldn’t be sickened by the sight of my overweight body. As I walked to the bathroom to get dressed behind closed doors, the guy said, “Why are you all wrapped up in a sheet? You were just lying naked with me a minute ago.”

    And it was at that point that the sheet fell down and my self esteem shot up. I was his girlfriend for more than two years and in that time I developed so much confidence. It was kind of crazy knowing that he was so attracted to Jennifer Aniston, Heather Locklear, Faith Hill, and ME! How was that possible? I even questioned him about it once and he said, “I don’t know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess.”

    Today, I’m no longer that guy’s girlfriend as we got married six weeks ago. My crazy dating life led to marriage as well as every belief that there’s someone out there for all of us, even if we’re not quite a size six. 😉

  2. Kim October 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    So many props to Jennifer and Carla for this really honest piece. I can totally remember being shocked the first time a guy was attracted to me. As a round kid and a fat teenager, I had kind of always thought I wasn’t pretty or thin enough to warrant that kind of attention or admiration. Even today, it’s really hard to tamp down those thoughts when they pop up.

  3. Tara October 28, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    This piece is amazing, so real, honest and true, and gives me a heavy heart with its complexities. Great job ladies!!!

  4. Jane November 1, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    simply, thank you.

  5. leonora November 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Kudos. Will be back for more.

  6. allthingsjennifer November 2, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    Right there with ya sister. 🙂

  7. City Spinster November 11, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    Thanks to you both for this great story. I can relate MORE than you know! Just reposted my favorite quote from your piece in our blog today: Looking forward to reading more of your stuff!

    • carlasosenko November 11, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

      Thank you so much!

  8. nikki November 20, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    Thank you Jennifer! I have always been a BBW in a family where all of my cousins were size 2 to 4 and model gorgeous and had amazing friends who were all beautiful in thier own right. At 33 I’ve always been the smart girl,the girl about town who knows everyone, the cute girl (cute as in “you have such a pretty face), the great shopper with a killer sense of style. I’ve been called the best community volunteer and an employee on the fast track. The reason why I’m considered all of these is because in the last six years I’ve lied to myself and others actually saying the words “Oh I’ll settle down when I’ve made it”, when the truth is I haven’t been asked on a real date in the last 10 years. Evene in a city like Detroit, where we are known for being one of the fattest cities in America its amazing that all the guys I know seem to only find the skinny women to date. Like you I’ve had plenty of ONS’s but what I truly want is to get married and have kids one day. Your article and the comments above gave me hope that there is someone out there who will truly love me for me, curves and all. Thank you for such a wonderful article!

  9. wondering???? December 29, 2010 at 9:51 pm #

    plus size woman are totally sexy to me,
    they have more open ways,
    and are less self centered than slim one’s,
    i feel alot more relaxed around them than slim ones who are always thinking about themselves or acting insecure,

  10. Mattie April 22, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    I love this article, I can totally relate to it, as I am 24, plus size, and single The whole world seems to be falling in love around me I have to ask… What’s the best BBW dating site around? I just joined one, and I’m just curious to see where people have the best results, because most of the guys who do appreciate a big girl are not easy to spot out in the wilds of Manhattan(if they are to be found out in public at all).

  11. klarie November 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Thankyou so much for this article it has given me the confidence to wade into the bbw dating pool. does anyone have a dating website that is highly recommended ?

  12. mallory December 29, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    first of all girl ur rly beautiful i have problems finding the right guy some just want sex others make fun hey ive learned to like who i am i tried some dating sites but u have to be 18 lol im 17 but i go the trouble of not finding the right one i mean does anyone have any advice and hey im glad u found someone who cares and all but i admit finding a guy is hard all they want is the stuck up skinny girls yes im chubby and i hated it in school i had people looking and staring i use to eat more cause i hated how i looked it was soo much pressure but ive learned to just be myself now a days some guys flirt with me but i rly hope i find the right guy like u did 😀

  13. mattrav June 26, 2013 at 6:34 am #

    Thanks both of your for wonderful article. Dating with large women is amazing experience.

  14. andra watkins November 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    I am a bbw looking for a man who can love me for the i am.

  15. Dave January 16, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    This is a very good article. And it is a shame there are people out there who are so insensitive and inconsiderate in how they communicate with people. The internet has done that even on dating sites where one might think respect would be given. But there may be a picture with a face but there is no face in front of your face for real. But all dating sites are like that, for every niche, or even non-niche. And yes, you found that there are those who look for the BBW, and they can find them within review sites like The BBW sites listed are ranked and you can find those who simply fetishize large women and for many women that is OK, or you can find those who see what is within the person. It is just that we are attracted to what we are attracted to and what is inside is what that really matters. But the look comes first. So there are those who festishize only and those like the guy Jennifer met, who idealize both the body and more importantly, the person within. Good luck to all.


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