Whenever I think about my identity, one of the characteristics that always pop up first is “plus-size.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing—I’m used to describing myself as such when looking for clothes, posting on Instagram, or talking about body positivity. I’m so used to being a plus-size woman, it’s become engrained in my daily routines and conversations. The only time I do cringe about being plus-size? When I’m talking about having sex.
Society has come pretty far in terms of the body positivity movement, which, believe me, I’m grateful for. Women are more empowered, fat bodies are being normalized, the fashion industry is finally catching up with extended sizing options and plus-size clothing lines. But when it comes to sex, I feel like those “taboo” lights start flashing in everyone’s heads and the conversation becomes a minefield of sidestepping judgmental comments and potential hurt feelings. Sex can already be a tricky topic to navigate, but add in a body type deemed “less-than-desirable?” Yeah, it’s a recipe for discomfort.
But despite it being uncomfortable to talk about, it still needs to be. I’m not going to get up on my soapbox and demand that all conversations about sex need to include fat bodies (hello, I’m an introvert), but sometimes I feel like a second-class citizen whenever I bring up my own experiences. Could that be completely based on my own self-confidence and body image issues? Absolutely. But that’s probably just more reason I need to do it more often. If there’s anything going to therapy for five years has taught me, it’s exposure therapy rarely fails. The more I talk about my own sexual experiences, the more comfortable I’ll be, the more confidence I’ll have, and, hopefully, the better the sex will be. And what better way to do it than to share my unfiltered thoughts?
First things first: I’m not comfortable with my body, but what does my partner think of it?
With all the guys I’ve dated, I’m usually one of the biggest women they’ve had sex with. (Not that I’ve collected data on this—God, could you imagine?! He’s mid-thrust, and I’m like, “So, have you slept with anyone else who’s fat?” Real nice.) So, I’m automatically going to compare myself to the other women my partners have slept with.
I have big thighs, flabby arms, and I carry a lot of weight in my belly. (I also have a fairly big butt, but that’s never really been a concern.) Usually, when I match with a guy on a dating app (as many of my experiences go), I post several photos of my entire body. And unfortunately, this is a direct response to an evening where I did meet up for a date with a guy and he left after half an hour because I looked different than my photos and he just “wasn’t attracted to me.” So after that charming memory, you bet I make sure I look identical to my photos. But even with that insurance of “OK, he knows what I look like and he finds me attractive,” I still never know what my partner’s initial reaction will be when we start having sex. Or how he’ll navigate my body.
For the love of God, don’t make me get on top
I am aware of my weight 24/7: putting on clothes, going on planes, sitting down at a restaurant, etc. So, why would having sex be any different? As much as I’d like to, I can’t just shut off my brain and lose myself to the throes of passion. (Kudos to anyone who can do that though—tips are welcome!) Sex is so not like romantic comedies where everything is easy and passionate and women have freakish pretzel bodies that can bend into every trendy position. I also worry about hurting my partner. Simply because I am a bigger woman with a bigger body, I want to be considerate of my partner and how comfortable they are in certain positions.
Another thing romantic comedies forget to mention? Stamina. My preferred exercise is walking, sometimes swimming. Executing a perfect reverse cowgirl is not a form of cardio that my core can easily withstand. So, I dread the times when my partner asks me to get on top. Marathon breathing techniques and worrying about my knees don’t exactly inspire lust in me. I’d much rather be in a position that I know works for me and lets me get out of my head and enjoy the experience.
Bring on the vibe
Listen, I’m happy for everyone who can orgasm without the aid of vibrators or toys—I’m just not one of them. Being a bigger woman, there’s simply more of me, which means more skin and body to navigate when I’m having sex. I have what is called a FUPA (fat upper pubic area), or “panniculus,” if you want the medical term for it. I’ve come to terms with my FUPA (Queen Bey has one, so we’re basically the same person), and being with my body all the time, I’ve figured out how to work with it and work around it when I’m engaging in a little self-love. But if my partner isn’t as familiar with my body (hello, one night stand), then I see it as my job to focus on my pleasure. And that means bringing out my trusty vibrator.
I’m not exaggerating when I say vibrators are responsible for 90 percent of my orgasms. (If I could take a quick commercial break to share a PSA, it’d be this: people, regardless of your size, body type, sexual orientation, or dating status, get yourself a vibrator and thank me later.) Because I have a little extra fat around my clitoris and vulva, it’s not as easy for my partner to find. So while I make sure to communicate openly during sex, using a B.O.B. (battery-operated boyfriend) is super helpful as an aid for ensuring plenty of orgasms. And in all my sexual experiences, I’ve never had a partner complain when I bring out my vibrator. More often than not, it’s a total turn-on.
Time to talk
I wouldn’t call myself particularly dominant in the bedroom (just let me be a delicate maiden in a Regency romance, thank you very much!), but I do think it’s important to talk while having sex. Having an open dialogue about what feels good, where to touch, what turns me on, etc. is the clearest way to build intimacy and grow my confidence. Even if I’m having sex with a partner I’m familiar with, I’m still the teensiest bit nervous every time. Communicating, even if it’s just joking about how a position isn’t working (anyone else fall off the bed while on top of their partner? Nope? Just me?) can break the tension, get me out of my head, and make me more comfortable.
Remember, they are there because they want to be
I’m not going to lie and claim that I can shut off all the negative self-talk my brain seems hell-bent on sending me during sex. But at the end of the day, I know that my partner is with me in that bed (or on that couch, or in that shower) because he is attracted to me and he wants to share this experience with me. Sex should be fun and sensual and pleasurable—let it be!
This isn’t an “I’ve overcome my body image issues and have great sex” statement though. I still have unsatisfactory sex all the time, and when I do, I’m quick to blame myself and my body. But over time, I’ve learned that I can’t let those thoughts rule me. Otherwise, I could be preventing myself from having some really great, hot, steamy sex in my future. I’m talking Bridgerton Season 1 Episode 6 sex. (You’re welcome!)