Note: this is reprint from Facebook’s now defunct Notes feature. It was first published on July 20th, 2013. It has been edited for concision.

Introduction, Terminology, and Set-up

This article is intended as a simple and blunt look at the above three things and how they interact. It is intended to be rational, objective, and unflinchingly honest. It is not my intent to upset, anger, depress, demoralize, or sadden anyone. It is also very much not my intent to coddle, pander, or in any way soften any basic truths.

I, the author, am fat. Oh, I am not “obese”, but I would be lying (to myself and to you) if I claimed to be merely stout. Since most of this fat is in my belly, the right clothes can minimize the effect, but make no mistake, I am fat. As are so very many of us.

The final note is that while many things can attract a person to another – kindness, financial security, shared values – this article will be focusing on physical and visual attraction. This focus is not any repudiation of the potential of non-physical attraction, non-physical attraction is simply beyond the scope of what we will be examining herein.

I think that makes the necessary things clear, and we will now move on to the twin truths of beauty, as applied especially to those of us who are fat.

The Twin Truths: The First One.

There are two truths that apply to all aesthetics. We cannot pick and choose among them, both are required by logic and reason. One most people like, and the other most people deny – but they are both equally true.

The one most people like is that beauty is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What does this mean for us fat people?

It means that we aren’t ipso facto ugly, per se. That there may exist people who find us beautiful or attractive not just in spite of the aesthetics of our excess weight, but because of it. Whether a skinny person, a fat person, a short person, a tall person, a young person, an old person – none of these are attractive because they have that quality alone. What makes them attractive to another is how a person reacts to that quality.

While I have been attracted to some stout and even fat women, usually the type I find most attractive is just the opposite – lean, thin, skinny. It’s what I generally happen to find beautiful. I am not saying that, for example, obese people are ugly – because if beauty is subjective (which it is) then such a statement makes no sense. The correct statement is obese people are ugly to me. In fact, if someone is using the language correctly, even when people say “people with quality X are beautiful” or “people with quality Y are ugly” and they leave out the “to me” part, it should be understood to be there despite its omission. Unless the person is actually trying to make an incorrect statement about nonexistent universal aesthetics, that is.

So if someone tell us “curves are beautiful” they are either lying about some fake universal beauty, or what they are really trying to communicate is “curves are beautiful to me.” Assuming of course that they are being honest, and not just trying to say what someone else wants to hear.

The same thing happens when you turn that around. If someone says “fat people are ugly” they are either wrongly making a statement about an absolute sense of “ugliness”, or more likely (assuming that the speaker is rational) they are really saying “fat people are ugly to me” with actually saying those two words at the end.

If it’s OK to omit those words and say “curvy people are beautiful” then it must be equally OK to omit those words and say “fat people are ugly”. If instead the phrase “to me” is required for the second statement, then it is equally required for the first. To treat these two statements differently is to embrace dishonesty for the sake of stroking our egos, fears, or needs.

Now, just because beauty is truthfully subjective, that does not imply that if you grab a random number of people off the street, that their preferences will be all over the map. Societies tend to develop standards of beauty that many within it share. In medieval times, overweight men and women were considered fairly attractive by society as a whole, although surely there were some individuals who nevertheless went against the trend and preferred the underweight.

Nowadays, many modern cultures seem to prefer the underweight, though again there are still many who buck the trend and instead find themselves attracted to the overweight.

(Parenthetical note: some personal aspects that have nothing necessarily to do with weight are generally, almost universally found to be attractive or repulsive. Bad hygiene, for example, tend to be a near universal repellant, probably because of the evolutionary truths of what bad hygiene leads to or represents. However, even here, there remains a rare few individuals contrarily attracted to what is near universally a repellant.)

So, all utterances of personal aesthetic – attractiveness, beauty, repulsiveness, ugliness – are all as valid and as subjective as is whether one likes vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate ice cream. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and this is as true for statements of what we are attracted to as equally as what we are not. Not a single one of us is made beautiful or ugly by our amount of weight, however high or low that is – but instead by what each person’s preferences and proclivities for other’s weight are.

And there’s nothing wrong with finding either a skinny or fat person either attractive or repellant. If I gaze upon a fat woman and am repulsed, that does not make me a bad person – and neither does it make the women lesser either. I am under no obligation to change what I find attractive – which may not even be possible. The fat woman is likewise under no obligation to change how she looks to please me or anyone else. She cannot rationally be offended by either me describing her as fat (which is factually true) or by me finding her utterly unattractive – so long as I am not trying to either be intentionally hurtful nor trying coerce her to change to suit my purposes, both of which are wrong.

Neither would it be my place to take any issue with someone else finding this fat women attractive, and acting on it. It is generally not any of our places to be dishonest about how we truly feel aesthetically, nor to have any expectation that our aesthetic feeling, whether positive or negative, should have any bearing on the choices that other people make.

Whether skinny, fat, or somewhere in between, people get to like what they like, and vice versa. To be asked to ignore or lie about it is stupid. To push one’s own preferences as an obligation onto to others to pursue is also very wrong. That’s what it means to says that beauty is subjective.

(Second parenthetical note: I was surprised to find recently some women who are certainly fat, but to whom I am very much attracted, one in particular. I don’t know how that happened, but it just goes to show you that even one’s own proclivities are probably not absolute. Also, it should be noted that another quality that many are very narrow on – age – I am not. While most people are attracted to so-called age-appropriate partners, I am attracted (and not just lustfully) to certain women of all ages from 18 to 65. My current partner is, for example, significantly older than I. (I am 45 as of writing this.) So while I tend to be pickier weight-wise, I am very all-embracing age-wise – for what it’s worth.)

The Twin Truths: The Second One.

And now to the truth that most people hate and pretend quietly (or loudly) isn’t true. You know how they say that everyone is beautiful, how everyone is special. Yeah, that can’t possibly be true.

The idea that everyone is above average is a lie. Therefore, not everyone is necessarily attractive.

We could be talking about ability, we could be taking about intelligence, we could be talking about physical prowess, we could be talking about capacity for empathy, reflexes, kindness, willpower, whatever. Half of all people would be above average – and half of all people would be below average – that is what average MEANS.

The idea that everyone is special is especially moronic. Special means “surpassing what is common or usual; exceptional; distinct” – this is just a fancier way of saying that everyone is above average.

To apply this same line of thinking to the standards of beauty is even more slippery. Even if there were some standard of beauty we were to accept AS a standard in the first place (an utterly dubious prospect), half of all people would be above average with respect to that standard, and half would be below. A standard that everyone meets is simply NOT a standard.

To say that someone is beautiful regardless of how they look or appear is to violently shred the very definition of beauty of al meaning in order to avoid the pain of having someone come up short.

“But what about the people with a beautiful soul?” a desperate person might ask, struggling to find some way of still calling another beautiful despite their appearance and how it makes them honestly feel. To them I say, are you trying to trick the person you are talking to? Are you trying to find a way to say one thing and make them hear another? Are you trying to lie to them to make them feel better?

If they have a beautiful soul in your opinion, tell them that, but do not mislead them into thinking that you find them physically attractive. That is just cruel.

If you tell someone that you find them beautiful, with no qualifiers, they will think you are telling them that you find them physically attractive – because that is in fact what you would be saying. If instead you mean to communicate to them that you find their sense of honor beautiful, or that you find their kindness beautiful, then make sure that you do not give them any other impression than that.

Being honest can often be uncomfortable. And there is always a way to be tactful and to avoid being cruel. But do NOT lie to people just to tell them what they want to hear or to avoid an uncomfortable exchange. Do not tell them one thing hoping they hear something else.

The thought that “everyone is beautiful” is therefore meaningless in two ways. One, the idea of what is beautiful changes significantly from person to person – so much that in terms of the statement “everyone is beautiful” the only sensible response is, “according to whom?”

Two, even if we have some frame of reference assigned – like overall societal standards, or perhaps “according to Fred” or whatever, beauty indicates an attractiveness of more than some level, and setting that level so low as to permit everyone to pass it renders the quality we are trying to use a distinction as simply meaningless.

What if we defined the word “warm” as anything with a temperature above absolute zero. Sure, we would be justified in calling anything warm. We could use that word on anything and pretty much be “right” – but in so doing, we would have rendered the word essentially meaningless and useless. If a Siberian night is considered warm, and so is midday in the Gobi desert, then calling something warm doesn’t really give us any useful information about the thing we are talking about, does it? I mean, we could have refrained from saying anything about it being “warm” and still know as much about it as we do now.

Likewise, if the word “beautiful” can be used to describe anyone regardless of their appearance, then what information do you convey to someone by using that word? None at all.

Think instead of beauty as a visual equivalent for how we treat “deliciousness”. Whether you are a picky eater (like me) or have a more wide ranging flavor palette, odds are that you have at some time had food that was either misprepared or that you simply did not care for. For example, I do not care for licorice, to me it is certainly not delicious.

In order for the word delicious to have any meaning, even in a subjective sense, there have to be foods that I do not find delicious as well as others that I do. The same is true of beauty – in order to have true meaning, there must be some that we find beautiful and attractive, while others not so much.

Not everyone is attractive just like not every food is delicious. And while people can rightfully disagree which ones are the delicious ones, no one disagrees with the fact that not all food is delicious.

Similarly, while people can have different standards of beauty and different types they are attracted to, no one can honestly say that they find all people attractive. So let’s stop insulting our intelligence by pretending that we can be considered attractive for just showing up. Maybe some people find us attractive, maybe others don’t. But the honest truth is we don’t get to claim beauty just because we want to.

Or to put another way, just because we want something to be true doesn’t mean it is. Instead, wanting something badly to be true usually means the opposite – that our need stems from the fact that, at our core, we do not believe it. We therefore not only lie to ourselves, but try to manipulate or coerce others to support the lie.

Let’s not do that. Let’s just face reality as it really is.

Fat and Beauty

So we have two co-equal truths: beauty (and attractiveness) is subjective; and that even when an aesthetic perspective is chosen, some people will be found attractive with regard to that perspective and others not, because not everyone is attractive or beautiful.

What does this have to do with being fat?

All people tend to be sensitive about their attractiveness, as it plays into most social interactions, not the least being friendship, companionship, and sex. In our current society, being underweight has for some time been held up as one of the standards of attractiveness. This predictably leads the overweight amongst us directly to self-esteem issues and for some, rebellion against this standard.

So fat people start out judged in today’s society as have their weight and appearance used as a measure of their unattractiveness. So when it comes to speaking of beauty, we fat people start with a major chip on our shoulder.

The objective truth is, being skinny doesn’t make someone beautiful. Neither does being fat. Because beauty is subjective, the only thing that makes us beautiful or attractive is someone else happening to have preferences for the qualities of appearance that we happen to possess.

However, since today’s society tends to embrace a sense of beauty that does not include being fat, this tends to make people hear the term “fat” as synonymous with “unattractive”. But this is not any more true than if (the spice) curry fell out of favor, would curry become synonymous with “bad tasting”? Would people be judged for still preparing and eating curry flavored meals? Not likely.

But because the word “fat” has become so associated with a lack of beauty, people go far out of their way to avoid using that word, or worse, bend over backwards to hastily convince the overweight people in their circle that they are just as attractive (to them) as anyone else – even when that may not be honestly true.

People who are fat are more than a little overweight, but we are neither fragile nor outcasts. We do not have to be treated like children. I would rather hear someone be honest with me about how attractive they do or don’t find me, than have them tie themselves in knots trying to spare my feelings – or worse, outright lying to me.

So let’s make a deal. Let’s call people who are fat, fat. Let’s be honest about whatever level of attraction or repulsion we feel when we are called upon to comment – tactfully, but truthfully and without hemming and hawing, or treating the overweight as if we can’t handle how others truly feel.

And above all, let us fat folk stop trying so hard, stop giving in to our desperation to find someone, anyone to tell us what we desperately want to hear – that we are attractive. It’s unseemly to act from such sheer panic and utter need. Let’s buy a frickin’ helmet and say, “we are what we are”. If we want to control our weight badly enough, we will. Otherwise, we’ll say “screw it” and take the lumps along the way, even if some of those include admitting that fewer people may be finding us attractive these days.

Reality is what it is. Running from it doesn’t help. Let’s face it, deal with it, and move on. We’re fat people. That may make us unattractive to more people in today’s society, although not necessarily to all – in fact, a select few may even become more attracted to us as a result. And perhaps eventually the pendulum may swing back and the overweight may once again be the standard of beauty like before.

In the meanwhile, I’ll take the truth, straight up, no chaser.

Fat and Well Being

It is common knowledge that being overweight can be a negative health factor, all anecdotal stories aside. Just like smoking, carrying extra weight brings extra risk, and generally speaking, the more extra weight, the higher the risk. (Having too little weight has its own risks as well.)

Let me be CRYSTAL clear that this topic has almost nothing to do with the previous one. I am not claiming that people who are unhealthy deserve to be thought of as unattractive, or that healthy people ought to be our standard of beauty. After all, there are plenty of anorexically thin women who’ve died from lack of eating and malnourishment who many thought were beautiful until the end. And there are also plenty of the heavier-set stout folk who may not be thought of as all that attractive, but who are quite healthy. Beauty and health frequently do not walk hand in hand – I am not here to condemn or support it.

But another burden we fat folk have to bear, utterly apart from concerns of beauty, are concerns of well-being. The fatter we are, the more likely that we will have problems. How fat to do have to be to have it be a health issue? That’s a question for a doctor, and the answer may vary somewhat depending on genetics, climate, exercise, diet, etc.

I am not going to claim that everyone with more than 15 or 20 pounds extra on them is at high risk, but I am also not going to ignore the truth that many people with even just 20 extra pounds are now quite possibly facing greater health risks. And lots of people aren’t looking at just 20 extra, but 35, 50, even 100.

Although not all fat is dangerous, the more fat you have/are, the more you should be speaking with a doctor about it. And while doing something about it is certainly your call, it would be extremely irrational and short sighted to ignore the issue just because it’s scary or difficult.

A smoker, for example, isn’t necessarily stupid for choosing to smoke, if they are truly aware of the risks and chooses the “pleasure” of smoking over avoiding the health issues that go with it. The same can be said for us fat folk. We could reduce our weight if we had to. If we don’t, it’s either because we choose not to see the truth of the tradeoff, or it’s because we choose to make the trade. Refusing to confront the truth is not something I respect, but once the truth is confronted, no one can make that choice but you.

And just like quitting smoking, changing one’s life to lose weight via diet and exercise is HARD. Some now say that certain foods can be as addictive as nicotine. So I do not want to minimize the challenge in making a change.

The only thing I insist on is facing the truth. It doesn’t matter whether or not we like the idea that being fat may very well have health costs, it’s still up to us to confront that possibility and handle it. Fat – especially a lot of it – is not good for the body. Let’s be adult and stop pretending otherwise.


I know even edited down, this was a lot of words, but I look around at the ever expanding people – especially Americans – and it seems to me that as the numbers of fat and obese folk go up, there is a corresponding push from these folk to both find a way of talking about beauty so as not to upset or dishearten then, and to simultaneously and steadfastly ignore the very real health risks that increase as our weight does.

I’m not into shaming anyone, and fat folk certainly should not be made victims on account of their weight – being one of them myself, I certainly can agree with that.

However, let’s not victimize ourselves. Let’s not agree tacitly to have all of us put on blinders. Let’s not pretend that fat is beautiful just because we’re fat and we demand to have people want us – because that’s not how it works. Either folks will be attracted to us or they won’t, but our anxiety over the situation won’t help that happen. Fat isn’t beautiful. It isn’t ugly. Fat is just fat.

It often is unhealthy though – and that’s something that each of us fat folk should face and deal with – whether than means to work with professionals like doctors and trainers to alter our weight, or whether that means we sadly shrug and say “oh well” and go back to the cake and cookies. (My approach, so far.)

Let’s frickin’ face reality, whatever the truth is, and simply deal. I’m fat. I may not be fat always, but right now, I am. I do not find my fat self attractive. Nor do I find other fat folk in general attractive – nor do I have to. But if some waify slip of a thing tells me that my bulk (such as it is) is a major turn on for her, I won’t be contradicting her – I’ll be too busy kissing her.

In the meanwhile, I suggest we all just face facts, and accept things for how they really are. Doing anything else cannot work out well.