But before the internet was a thing, I was a fat girl who nobody wanted to date. I was going on phone chat lines and stuff at years-old, which is kind of the predecessor of online dating in a lot of ways.
I was lying about being years-old to use the service. So they were all these white-collar businessmen. So I went to living in the suburbs with mostly immigrant families to dating white-collar businessmen at years-old.
And so many different parts of my life emerged from that one introduction to dating. But being fat also made me want to be the smartest person, because I had to have all these compensatory personality traits.
I had to be smart. I had to be bubbly. I had to be easy to talk to. I had to be funny. Since I was fat, these other parts of my personality had to be extra. So these guys wanted a young woman, of course, but I could talk like their colleagues. I grew up with all people of color.
I grew up with boys who looked like me, but they all hated me because I was fat. I went from my whole world being brown to my dating world being white. So dating was so much easier. Do you ever feel fetishized on those platforms?
But what men do tend to do is fetishize my bust. So the idea of being a busty Asian person gets brought up a lot. So I feel like I get fetishized by that ethnic misidentification than I do about my weight. I have a background in sexuality studies. And it might be different for me because on the spectrum of plus bodies, I might be considered smaller. I love your arm fat. I love your back fat. I love all of these things. But I understand that might be a unique experience. We met on Tinder — the last place I thought that I would meet somebody.
I was married for seven years, and we were together for 14 years. So now that I was opening myself up to be viewed through the lens of another man, it really threw me for a loop. Dating was ridiculously challenging from a body perspective. How was your experience dating in your 30s, as opposed to your 20s when you met your husband?
My body was what it was. But the more that the internet and the haters on the internet grew around me, it changed completely. It feels very disposable now. So I realized I could choose to present myself differently online than I would if I were just out at a bar with friends.
The answers to match questions are used by certain sites to tally up compatibility between potential matches. At one point, I was screenshotting these questions, because I thought they were so fucking ridiculous.
But then you go dig into their questions, and they think obese people are disgusting. And then it brings up all these other questions: Do you show your body in photos or do you not show your body in photos? Do you angle your face a certain way to make it look slimmer? But it really has you questioning things. And I know the argument is that everyone is objectified on these sites, but straight-size women are objectified in a different way.
What box do I fit in? And it might not be any of these. And I did have some good dates on Tinder, but it ended up being a game, which was the feeling I got from a lot of apps. He had multiple photos uploaded, none holding dead animals, none of him holding guns.
His job title was on there and he said something about himself. Plus I thought he was cute. We went out, and he took me out on a real date — we had dinner. And then this past weekend, we moved in together. Since our chat, Emily has gotten engaged! I talked to teenagers about sex and ways to be healthy in making their decisions about sex and relationships. A lot of times I wind up preaching to myself. And it's been an interesting journey. I never really thought of it as a challenge as a plus-size woman.
But there have been different expectations from men, and there have been a lot of different personalities. I have not been online. I have friends who do it, but it's just not for me. I'm a people person. I've done a lot of community work, and that's typically how I meet people.
In many cases, I've met someone through work that turns into a friendship, which eventually turns into us dating. For me, I like that. I like the idea of building a friendship that naturally turns. It's also easier to meet people through work because, given the type of work I do, a lot of the things I talk about have to do with sex. So men will hear that, and they'll say, 'Oh, she's talking about sex all the time? She must be a freak!
On dates and stuff, once a guy knows what I do, he'll ask me questions like, 'Oh are you going to teach me all about sex? One of the things I hear from plus women who do date online is that they deal with a lot of harassment because of their body type. Do you feel like you experience that in real life? But I'm also very curvaceous, and most of my weight is in my hips and my thighs. So I often hear sexual things about my thighs, especially if I'm out in an environment where there are drinks or whatever.
But for the most part, I've heard that frequently, and I don't know why every guy thinks they're the first one to use that line. They think it's going to rock my world and they're going to get some, but it's so frequent.
They'll say things like, 'Oh, you're a big, tall, strong girl. I'm totally not attracted, because we can't have a conversation without you implying something about my body part and what you're going to do to it.
Because if I already have a foundation of where we're at with a guy, and we're grooving, and we have chemistry, then I'm kind of attracted to it. But if I'm walking down the street, it's a turn off. Especially if men yell at me on the street. So they have the body of a year-old, but their mentality is a teenager. And in that situation, it makes me uncomfortable, because I think of the kids.
Do they bring up how their bodies relate to their sexuality ever? This is the heart of me. And one of the things that gets brought up is that a lot of young women don't necessarily feel comfortable enough in their bodies to consider having sex yet. So one of the things I say to young women is, 'If you aren't comfortable enough to walk around butt naked in front of someone, you probably shouldn't have sex with them.
So if you're not feeling comfortable with a person, why are you having sex with them? So as much as I help them out, they help me out. And in families of color, I've found that these things really aren't talked about as much as they should be, which is hard.
The idea of body image and how it relates to sex isn't always spoken about. In your community, do you feel like that representation exists? But there's definitely a lack of representation like that overall.
There's still a way to go. There are different types of bodies for a plus-size woman. Like me, I'm small on top, but I'm big on the bottom. And a lot of people don't realize that there are all these different kinds of plus bodies. And I feel like the more we see these different kinds of bodies, and the more young people can see these different types of bodies, then the more people will accept them and be more comfortable with them.