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I tried a few dating websites when I was younger and no matter how great the conversation was going, I always found myself questioning if they’d noticed my weight from my profile pictures or if it was something I should bring up before the first date. After all, the last thing I wanted was to end up with one of those horror stories you hear about so often in the dating world.
No matter what your personality is, I’ve learned that there is always a chance that someone decides they don’t like you because you’re on the heavier side. It doesn’t always feel good when it happens- but does that mean that those people are wrong for having a preference or an opinion?
And onto the bigger question…
Is not dating fat people fatphobic?
No, not dating fat people is not fatphobic. Everyone has their own preferences as far as body type and what they find attractive and there is nothing wrong with having a preference. That being said, they also should not put people down or dismiss them simply because of their weight.
Now, let’s take a closer look at what fat phobia really is and why it isn’t really fat phobic if you don’t date heavier people.
What is Fatphobia?
Fatphobia is bias or even hatred against people who are overweight. Being fatphobic comes with believing a lot of stigmas about larger people, such as they are always unhealthy or that being bigger also means that they’re lazy or don’t exercise. As we all know, there are a lot of factors that contribute to total weight and it does NOT mean that you are unhealthy or lazy.
The term is pretty self-explanatory and a general “fear of fatness” is really the best way to describe it. Unfortunately, it’s something that bigger people have to deal with in a lot of areas of life. Even doctors are more likely to tell someone to “lose weight” before looking for an underlying condition when symptoms arise.
When it comes to the dating world, being fatphobic does NOT mean that a person has a preference for thinner bodies. However, someone who is fatphobic might immediately decide against dating someone because they are bigger or they might even make rude assumptions or comments regarding someone else’s weight.
Why I’d Rather Call it Anti-Fat than Fatphobic
That being said, I prefer to call this attitude towards plus-sized people anti-fat rather than fatphobic. While bias and attitudes are something that parents may pass down to their children (this is known as implicit bias) and that are hard to unlearn, they don’t result in the same physical response as a true phobia.
I feel that responding to external stimuli you’re afraid of with a phobia is very different from how someone would react as a result of anti-fat beliefs. They have more control over their actions in most cases because they aren’t hyperventilating or feeling nervous, making them completely capable of rational thought.
That being said, there are people out there who are truly afraid of fat people. This condition is actually called cacomorphobia. Like true phobias, it results in symptoms like rapid heartbeat, anxiousness, chills or trembling, and even avoidance of areas where larger people may be.
Cacomorphobia also usually stems from negative first responses to stimuli, like a true phobia. For example, being bullied by someone who was overweight at a young age.
Most people in the dating world who are anti-fat aren’t experiencing this at all. Treating someone differently because of their weight has been compared to racism, misogyny, ableism, homophobia, and all those other types of bias that exist in the world.
So…Is Not Dating Fat People Fatphobic?
No, the preference to date thinner or more athletic people is not fatphobic or anti-fat. People are allowed to have preferences about body type and appearance and they shouldn’t be made to feel bad about having a preference.
This is something that goes both ways, as well. When I was actively dating, I found that I generally preferred a man that was a little larger. There are a lot of reasons I prefer a larger male body and while I don’t think I ever disregarded someone because they were thin, I was less likely to pursue a date with them.
What Do Others Have To Say About It?
But am I the only one that thinks this way? I wanted to find out so I reached out to a handful of experts to check my bias.
I talked to Shannon Peel who’s a business owner, writer, brand storyteller, and plus-size woman. Here’s what she had to say:
I live in Vancouver where there are very few overweight people (plus sizes impossible to find) and I’m overweight. I have lots of funny stories where the guy walked into the coffee shop, saw me, bought coffee, and walked out. Other ones where guys would say, Oh I love a heavy woman. – not what any woman wants to hear.
The dating apps made it easy for some immature guys to be cruel and for others to be overly descriptive with what they wanted to do to me. But I think every woman gets that behaviour to some measure.
I don’t think that it’s fatphobic.
It’s easy for us to blame others for not taking the time to get to know us for who we really are, but the thing is, we all have preferences. There are plenty of guys on dating apps I swipe left for one reason or another. Dating apps are very superficial and make us think that there is always a next, a better one, or the one and then we don’t put any effort into getting to know the one in front of us.
I finally stopped actively dating and focused on my business. I’ve never been happier. Before, I was upset because I couldn’t find a man who wanted to love me and I felt unlovable. That made me feel like something was wrong with me, mostly because of my weight.
Now, I don’t think about it and any time I start feeling lonely, I think about what it would be like to waste time trying to convince some guy I can’t see that I’m worth getting to know and I get on with my life.
Any woman of size has experienced the coffee shop walkout or the fetishization of plus-size women and I love Shannon’s decision to simply focus on her business. She also points out that apps are rough on everyone, no matter what size you are.
Next, I talked to Brenda Mejia a blogger, world traveler, and plus size woman who you can follow on Traveleira.com where she shares her stories of solo-female traveling. Here’s what she had to say about fatphobia and dating:
As a fat woman who has been an activist in respecting the space fat people have in society, I don’t believe not dating fat people is fatphobic. All of us have preferences when it comes to dating, it is acceptable if someone does not want to date someone fat, tall, or thin. The fatphobia begins using the example of the Dating app- when you match with someone who is that typically you don’t like and you just match to remind them how fat they are and how you don’t like them.
This is something I have experienced while matching on dating apps: Finding men who match just to say You’re too fat for me, how would you think I will like you? And that is fatphobic and defeats the purpose of a dating app, where you match with people to who you are supposed to be attracted.
Once again, there’s the word: preference!
Finally, I talked with April Maccario who provides relationship advice on all kinds of topics (including dating while fat). Here’s what she had to say:
Not dating fat people is simply a matter of preference. The basic human instinct when looking for a romantic relationship partner is physical attraction. Whether fat or not is a personal preference in dating that satisfies the law of attraction; “like attracts like – similar things are attracted to one another.”
It’s hard to say whether dating apps have been a gain or loss for fat people when it comes to dating. Since dating a fat person or not is a matter of preference, ultimately, the only people who can judge its impact are the first-hand users.
Once again, it seems that most folks agree, whether they’re plus size or not, that dating is simply about preference.
But what does science have to say about all this?
The Science of Attraction
There are a lot of factors outside of physical attraction that people look for in a mate. This could be certain personality traits or bonding over something they have in common. While there is no exact formula, science tells us that beauty, proximity, similarity, reciprocity/ego, and non-sexual arousal.
The first one is kind of obvious. People are attracted to certain people and scientists don’t always know what makes us attracted to a certain feature.
However, it is believed that influences of which people we are attracted to might come from societal pressures, evolutionary traits, or cultural background, to name a few things. Of course, personality traits and not just physical traits are something we can be attracted to as well.
Proximity basically means how close you are to someone. You’re more likely to date someone that you already know or are close to and they can become more attractive as you spend more time with them.
With similarity, which is something I find really affects my preferences, it might be about common shared ground, a shared hobby, or even having a similar appearance to someone.
Reciprocity means that you like someone because they liked you first. This has something to do with ego, generally, or just a willingness to give someone a shot.
The last one isn’t really a true attraction. Rather, it’s thinking that you are attracted to someone because of external stimuli. For example, you might think your heart racing means you’re attracted to someone when really your heart is racing because you’re watching a scary movie.
Behaviors in the Dating World That Are Anti-Fat
Even though I really don’t think it’s anti-fat to have an opinion about what or who you are attracted to, there are a lot of behaviors that are really not okay that are fatphobic. You should avoid people that do any of these things, not because they won’t be interested in you, but because they really aren’t worth your time.
First of all, people really shouldn’t be comfortable fat-shaming others or putting them down because of their weight. Rude comments on your weight or what you look like really shouldn’t be tolerated. After all, it’s okay to have an opinion, but it’s really not okay to be a jerk about it. (And honestly, did you ask for their opinion)?
Something else to be cautious of is people who are more willing to see you in private than in public. They might not want to go out at certain times or take you to meet your friends because while they aren’t anti-fat, they are worried about what their friends and family might think.
Finally, avoid people that act like they are doing you a favor by dating you. There are people who will love every extra inch of your body and these are the type of people you should be dating. Your weight does not make you any less attractive and it shouldn’t make you feel less confident either.
Should I Tell Someone I’m Fat Before I Meet Them for the First Time?
Look, unless you carefully hid your extra pounds in every single picture you posted, there’s really good odds that the person who messaged you already knows that you’re on the heavier side. There’s an even bigger chance that they’re into it (and you).
It’s really unnecessary to bring up your weight before a first date. From the start, bringing up your weight shows that you aren’t confident. Bigger people are often taught that we should be lucky for what we have because of our weight. Not only do I think that idea is incredibly harmful, but I think it’s incredibly wrong.
You deserve to be loved not in spite of your weight, but because of it. There are people out there who will love your extra pounds, plus the person underneath. Big people are sexy too and that’s pretty evident when you consider the number of plus-sized pole dancers and social media influencers out there.
What Should I Do if Someone Doesn’t Want to Date Me Because I’m Overweight?
I would say that the best thing to do if someone doesn’t want to date you because of your weight is to cut your losses, but honestly, it’s their loss. There isn’t much that you can do except move on.
The type of people who won’t date you because of your weight are the type of people who are going to make you feel like you should hide yourself or try to hide you from friends and family. You deserve (and can have) so much better than that.
It’s also important not to take it personally, which I know is easier said than done. Remember that you aren’t less attractive because of the way another person views you or less worthy of being loved by someone. Have the confidence to dust yourself off and try again when you’re ready.
Lacking confidence? Check out all the body positivity on social media lately. Something that has been huge for my confidence is seeing big, beautiful women like myself looking gorgeous and flaunting their curves. Like I said, beautiful because of their curves, not in spite of them, and rocking belly button piercings, crop tops, and whatever else makes them feel most confident.
As we know, bias towards heavyset people is very real and it’s something that a lot of us have dealt with. We have to advocate for ourselves at the doctor to have our symptoms taken seriously. In the workplace, we’re more likely to be overlooked for positions in the public eye or in management. Unfortunately, that spills over into the dating world, too.
Is not dating fat people fat phobic? Not really.
Even though it’s not considered anti-fat to have a body preference, people can be biased towards bigger people in the sense that they don’t want to date them. While having a body preference is not fatphobic, dismissing people or putting them down because of their weight is.
Honestly, it’s really important to remember that while some people have a preference for thinner or more athletic bodies, there are also people who love a bigger, curvier man or woman. The body positivity movement has really done a great job at reinforcing the idea that fat people are hot too, regardless of their weight.
If you’re in the dating world now, my advice is to hang in there! There is someone out there who will love you with extra weight and not in despite of it and honestly, it’s really worth the wait!