big belly sex
If you’re a fat / thicc / plus-size woman or femme* reading this from a crowded subway bench on your morning commute, I’m willing to bet that (1) you’re sitting in an uncomfortable position right now because you’re trying to take up less space, and that (2) you didn’t even notice you were doing that.
Author’s Note: For those of you who don’t know; Femme* refers to queer cis, non-binary or trans people who display feminine traits. I’ve been seeing it used a lot by the str8s lately, and I want to be clear that my use of language is intended to include all femme identities, not to offer some queer slang for appropriation. Please use this word wisely. Straight women need not apply.
Fat people have been fed a message of inferiority for so long that we’re actually slowly distorting our bodies into positions of discomfort. That rush of hot rage from your forehead to the rest of your body when you read gym ads that tell us our bodies aren’t good enough for summertime is real. The uneasy need to suck in your stomach when an annoyed airline passenger sitting next to you is also real. That uncontrollable urge to slap your skinny friends for venting to you about eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on their “fat day” is really fucking real.
Okay, don’t get physically abusive, but definitely set them straight, y’all. That “fat day” shit is not cool anymore.
I was on my way to work one August morning when I first noticed how much physical pain I unnecessarily endured. Nothing disgusts me more than the thought of sitting my sweaty thighs on a sticky, plastic subway bench, but I was wearing heels and I didn’t feel like standing. I sat in the nearest open seat, next to two middle-aged men who—of course—were man-spreading and taking up space.
As I plopped my bare thighs on the hot, germ-covered seat, I decided to mentally note how my body felt throughout the train ride. My brows were furrowed, my teeth were clenched, and I was taking shallow breaths. I took a few deep breaths — lil dudes next to me definitely shot me a curious glance, but what-the-fuck-ever, man-spreaders, I don’t owe you shit! — and noticed that I had been hunching my shoulders together, squeezing my core and holding my breath, while smooshing my thighs closed so that I wouldn’t graze my neighbors’ pant-covered legs.
I look down at my clenched legs, feeling my calves tighten from walking to the train in heels and now supporting my tense thighs. Gazing at the man-spreaders’ thighs on either side of me, I was immediately enraged at how fucking relaxed both of them were. Fuck that shit! I sit back in my seat and let my back relax — my back is supporting a pair of G-cup blessings, after all. I relax my legs and the dudes next to me try their best to hide their annoyance as they move their legs a half an inch to let me have some breathing space.
What started as a simple quest to sit during my morning commute on a hot summer day, quickly turned into an experiment about taking up space. In a public setting, these men expected me to make myself small so that they didn’t have to move. They were perfectly okay with me being uncomfortable, just so that they could keep their goddamn legs spread open on the train. If I had not checked in with my body to see how she was feeling, I would have let myself stay uncomfortable. *Gay Brown Carrie Bradshaw voice* I couldn’t help but wonder... If I am unknowingly contorting my body in its most public daily presentation, then how do I honor my body in an intimate space?
The question stayed with me throughout that hot August day, especially on my train ride from happy hour to my dick appointment. I wanted to employ the same mental scanning of how much pain I’m unconsciously enduring in order to make someone else feel more comfortable.
While I don’t kiss and tell (wink wink), I can tell you that the practice of scanning your body to gauge its comfort levels is incredibly life-changing. Do this immediately, even now. Start with your breathing. Take really deep, low breaths and see what is making it more difficult for you to do so. Notice how you may take fewer breaths in certain positions, when your partner(s) are putting too much pressure on your belly.
Notice how your knees might be absorbing too much impact when you’re on all fours, indicating that you might need a more stable foundation to be in that position, or just a courtesy knee pillow. Some of you act like your man is Prince-fucking-Charming for giving you a pillow to make any sexual position more comfortable, and I’m gonna’ need you to stop that shit. Firstly, you deserve better, and secondly, you can’t send that rude lil’ schmuck back into the dating pool for the rest of us to encounter. Your comfort during sex should be top priority.
We subconsciously settle for nonsense because we’ve been internalizing all of the terrible things that people say about our bodies. Your belly, rolls, cellulite, flab, and everything in between are not hindrances to sexual pleasure. Every curve, hill, and valley that exists on your precious body, works in service to your pleasure if you honor them.
Beatriz Kaye (she/hers) is a queer Filipino-American poet, writer, creative director, community organizer, and the Gay Brown Carrie Bradshaw the world needs. She runs a Book Club for Women and Femmes of Color in Bed-Stuy, where we create safe spaces to discuss intersectional feminism and gentrification. She also writes and creates images for a blog for smart stoner girls called 2 GIRLS 1 COVEN. Her community work, writing, and poetry all culminate in an unapologetic celebration of fatness, queerness, brownness, foreign-ness, and intersectionality.