In my blog yesterday I said that when Al Roker’s wife told Dateline that she wanted him to amputate his stomach because “I just wanted to feel more attracted to him.” it was her “fat bigotry getting in the way of being attracted to her husband.” Commenter Jill responded:
I think it’s perfectly fine that his wife was not attracted to him fat becasue attraction is a personal thing. I don’t necessarily think the lack of attraction is fat bigotry.
For example: My mom thinks Viggo Mortensen is the hottest thing on two legs and, while I objectively agree that he can be attractive, I find him too… pointy and angular. I don’t think I have a bias against pointy, angular Norwegians the man just doesn’t do it for me.
So I don’t see the fact that Mrs Roker was not attracted to the fat Al as a problem. The same way I don’t see someone not being physically attracted to the fat me as a problem. It is what it is.
Shaped by society or not, if you’re not attracted to someone you’re not attracted. There is absolutely ZERO shame in that and I don’t think anyone should be called to task for their personal preference – no matter what the source.
I think that this is an interesting discussion and, as always, there are lots of points of view on this, and mine is just one of them.
I understand not finding a specific person attractive. But if someone finds every single person with a single specific physical attribute unattractive, does that not constitute a form of bigotry?
I believe, for me, that the ability to perceive beauty and attractiveness is a skill, not something that is ingrained and unchangeable. So, for example, while I may find a specific man who is bald unattractive, if I notice that I find all men who are bald unattractive because they are bald, then I believe that constitutes a prejudice. I would choose to examine that (does it come from what society tells me about men who are bald? Unpleasant experiences with certain men who are bald? etc.) and work to expand my ability to perceive beauty and attractiveness to include bald men, rather than insisting that it’s just a personal preference and no matter why I feel that way it’s just how it is. But, of course, I can only speak for myself.
So while I am happy not to date someone who finds all fat women unattractive, I believe that they are operating from a state of bigotry and that they have the option to examine that and work to change it if they choose (preferably BEFORE marrying a fat person). The Mirriam-Webster definition of bigot is “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” That, to me, includes stubbornly insisting that nobody who is a member of a group with a specific physical characteristic is attractive to them. Or, in Mrs. Roker’s case, that she dated and married her husband fat, yet was certain that she would find him more attractive if he were thinner.
I think this is important because the idea that fat people are subjectively unattractive is used as a method of oppression – we are told that we shouldn’t be seen in certain clothes – patterns, colors, shapes etc. – and sometimes that people don’t want to see us at all. We are told that we should value our bodies based on whether or not stereotypically beautiful members of the opposite sex want to have sex with us (regardless of our own sexual orientation.)
We are told that proof that being fat is “bad” can be found in the “fact” that the majority of people in our culture aren’t attracted to us, and that they should not be called to task for that, and that there is nothing that they should do about it. That it doesn’t matter if it stems from a (very profitable for some) social construct of beauty, or the bigotry of our current society, it just is and there is no shame in that. I think the source of what we find attractive is worth examination – as is the resulting concept of attractiveness, and the way that concept is used against those deemed “unattractive.”
I think it’s also important for those of us who are fat to realize that when someone says that they could never find a fat person attractive, what they may be saying (either consciously or subconsciously) is “I’m operating my love life from a base of bigotry, and I’m cool with that.” At any rate, we are not the problem and we don’t have to look to anyone else to validate our beauty an attractiveness.
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