Oh boy, did my hairy-lesbian-HULK ever come out to SMASH today.
Today, I happened across an article about a study the National Institutes of Health is funding. Brace yourself. They want to find out why lesbians are fat. And no, sadly, I did not read this on The Onion. In fact, they want to find out why lesbians are fat so badly that they’re funding this study to the tune of $1.5 million dollars. Let me repeat that– ONE POINT FIVE MILLION DOLLARS TO FIND OUT WHY SOME LEZZIES ARE FAT. Holy Crap, and we wonder why the country is broke??
What gets me about this is that you don’t need a freakin’ study to answer this question. You merely need a survey. Especially since they also want to know why gay men, compared to straight men, are less obese. Really now. An hour alone with a dyke and twink and you’d have all your queer mysteries solved. But, no. Let’s spend $1.5 million and treat LGBTQ peoples like lab rats instead of, oh, I don’t know, just asking them why they don’t feel a need to conform to the same beauty standards as heterosexuals. That makes so much more sense.
But don’t fret, dear readers, Jade is here to clear things up. Let’s start with the gay men. I am actually REALLY glad I’m not a gay man– the beauty standards in the twink community are even stricter than they are for women in general. You have to be lean, hairless, tall, fair-skinned… Hmm, ironically (or intentionally?) this sounds an awful lot like the beauty standards women in Western society have hoisted upon them daily. Gay men are expected to work out, obsessively, and spend the same kind of time and financial investment on their appearance as heterosexual women. Yikes! The only way to really escape this as a gay man is to be a “bear.” Bears are big, hairy guys (and often leather men, but not necessarily) who love other big, hairy guys. Bears make me laugh out loud at the idea that gay men must all be effeminate– can you think of anything more masculine than two big, burly guys? This image jumps to mind.
Long story short, gay men are generally less overweight than straight men because straight men are rarely held up to any kind of beauty standard, while gay men are (by other gay men). I guess that’s where the similarity between female beauty standards comes in– both are enforced by men, either gay (for other gay men) or straight (for women). But gay women don’t seem to hold other gay women up to the same strict beauty standards as men do. I’m generalizing, of course, and the media certainly has a VERY narrow view of what a lesbian looks like. It’s actually only different from the narrow view of women already depicted by the media in that they’re sometimes a tiny bit butch (by which I mean they’re wearing pants or maybe a vest). Maybe. But lipstick lesbians are much more likely to show up in media depictions of lesbians because the media is targeted towards heterosexual males and what heterosexual males find attractive is not the same thing dykes find attractive. It’s why we don’t fuck each other.
So moving on to why a higher percentage of gay women are overweight than in the general population of women. If you dare to read the comments in the article I linked to (and I wouldn’t suggest it, unless you really love trolls), you’ll find we already have a number of mindbogglingly ignorant theories. Here are my top three:
- Women aren’t fat because they’re lesbians, they’re lesbians because they’re fat!
- All lesbians have been raped or sexually abused in some way, and like all survivors, they bury their emotions in food in order to create a “fat shield” around them to repel men.
- We don’t care what men think of us, or we don’t want men to look at us, so we get fat on purpose.
An honorable mention goes to “Because they eat out all the time!” which, while I’m sure was written with malicious intent, I chuckled at.
So let’s dissect this. First, the idea that women “turn” lesbian because they’re fat and can’t land a man. It goes without saying that this is utterly absurd. For one, you don’t “turn” gay, you’re either queer (gay, lesbian, bi, etc.) or not from the day you’re born. The only choice involved is whether to embrace your sexuality or deny it. Though, I suppose to someone forced into a sexless lifestyle due to being a raging douchecanoe, the idea of “turning” to a particular sexual orientation might make sense. Secondly, there are plenty of men out there who not just tolerate larger women, but actually love and prefer larger women. Don’t believe me? Check out the Museum of Fat Love.
Point two: All lesbians have been sexually abused and that’s both why they’re gay and why they’re fat. It really pains me that I have to explain this, but here goes: 1 in 3 women will be sexually abused in her lifetime. All lesbians are women. Therefore, it logically follows that at least 1 in 3 lesbians has been sexually abused. FUCKING DUH. Furthermore, lesbians are far more likely to be assaulted because of their sexuality than straight women. Hate crimes, anyone?
That aside, the asshats who keep bringing this up are using ancedotal evidence: “Every lesbian I know has been sexual abused.” And how many lesbians do you know? One, two? Are you just assuming they’re gay? Well, guess what, I’ve got ancedotal evidence too. Personally, I’ve seen absolutely NO correlation between abuse, size and orientation, let alone evidence of causation. I have both heavy and thin friends who have been raped but are straight; I have dated both heavy and thin lesbians who haven’t been raped; and me? Well, I’ve been sexually abused by both men and women and am still, historically speaking, attracted to both. But, you know, since I’m not a man, my experience apparently means nothing. Also, the idea that all survivors react to their abuse in the same way is deeply insulting. But that’s another post.
Lastly, lesbians don’t care what men think and therefore let themselves go. You know, this one is actually in the same universe as the real answer, so thank goodness for small favors. It’s true, lesbians DON’T care what men think. That’s why they’re LESBIANS. But that we “let ourselves go” because of that? Missing the mark.
You ready for the real answer? Why are more lesbians fat than straight women? It’s REALLY simple: We’re already othered. Think about it, it’s similar to why more queers are kinky– we’ve already gone so far as to question our heterosexuality, why not question your vanilla-ness too? In this case, it’s a matter of already being othered because of your sexual orientation, so why are you going to adhere to a beauty standard enforced by the mainstream when you’ve already been ousted by the mainstream? Lesbians and gay men are going to follow a beauty standard that exists within our OWN community. For some gay men, this happens to look fairly simliar to the mainstream beauty ideal held up for women.
But dykes? I mean, there are certainly plenty of femmes out there who love to shave and do their hair and wear make-up. I do not mean to exclude the femmes. But as a butch, I can tell you that this isn’t generally expected of femmes the way it’s expected of straight women. And body size definitely goes out the window. (Again, there are exceptions to every rule and if you read the comment thread on that article, you’ll find some douchey lesbians trying to gain access to male privilege and approval by trashing other lesbians.) But as a dyke, let me tell you what I’m attracted to: Natural faces (i.e. no make-up), hairy bodies (I love it when my GF doesn’t shave!), curves and cuddle-ability (I can’t fuck somebody I’m afraid I might break, and I love to cuddle), queerness (anything outside the gender binary) and an unabashed willingness to be yourself.
Notice how NONE of that fits into the beauty standard we’re taught as young, assumed heterosexual women? And no, I don’t expect those things to be attractive to the average male. But, NEWSFLASH, lesbians aren’t trying to attract men! A point the troglobites commenting on this article seem to be deliberately missing.
I know, on some level, it’s silly for me to get worked up about this. Haters are gonna hate, and my anger is exactly what they want. I guess I just wasn’t prepared for the perfect storm of bigotry, ignorance, prejudice and hate since the trolls get to talk about women, fat and homosexuality all in one place. I certainly have plenty of my own privilege, white and able-bodied, to name a few, but as a fat, butch, lesbian, I know there is little love for me in the world. What I truly can’t wrap my head around, though, are comments like, “Imagine a world without fat lesbians.” Huh? What is it to you, straight dude? Sincerely, why in Trogdor’s name do you care about what women who will never, ever, EVER sleep with you look like, think or do? How does it impact your life? Why the hell can’t we all just mind our own business? You know, live and let live?
Maybe I’d understand if I had a penis and the world revolved around it. Thankfully, mine is detachable so I’m allowed to re-engage my brain afterwards.
Moral of the story, Asshole Institutes of Health? Some dykes are fat– get over it!