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Dear Virgie header 2017

I have a crush on this fat babe who’s an acquaintance. I’ve never dated a girl before. I’m worried I will be a weirdo who’s co-opting queerness.”

Dear Virgie:

I have a crush on this fat babe who’s an acquaintance. I’ve dated fat people before (I’m fat too), but have never dated a girl before. I kinda want to ask her out, but I’m worried I will be a weirdo who’s co-opting queerness and has no idea how to navigate her body.


Dear Friend:

Mmmmmm … I love this question! I love your thoughtfulness and concerns around co-opting queerness. I kid you not, this question could not have come at a better time! This week I had two — no, three! — amazing conversations with friends about pretty much this exact subject’s cousin.

So, first of all, I am not the best equipped to be the “definitive” voice on the issue of co-opting queerness. I have complicated feels about my own place within this conversation, having straddled both the shitshow that is Straightlandia my whole life and my intense love for/commitment to queer community for the past 15-ish years. But I will offer my opinion: co-opting is about going into a place with the intention of taking something — emotional, spiritual or financial — with no intention or desire to give, expand and grow with that community. Co-opting is about a unidirectional exchange that ultimately benefits one person at the expense of others who have worked really hard to create something meaningful.  

Related: Queer Fashion Week and the Importance of Visibly Fat Bodies

So, I think it’s rad that you want to be responsible as you’re considering asking this babe out. And I think it’s worth it to take some time to think on some of the stuff I outlined above.

Beyond that, though, I think you should ask her out.

I’m going to share three valuable things I learned from the three conversations I mentioned having this week:

1. Most of us have only ever seen one type of queerness modeled to us.

There is limited queer representation, and so we often think that if our desire or gender presentation doesn’t look a certain way, that we must not be gay. The truth is, though, that “heterosexual” and “gay” are cultural stories; they are social fabrications that are relatively new designations in human history. Like, the term/concept of heterosexuality is only like 150 years old (mid-1800s). Hanne Blank wrote a book about this, actually. Imagine what your life would look like if you had never been introduced to the concept that there straight people and there are gay people and our culture didn’t spend so much energy oppressing queers.

2. It’s OK not to know exactly how to navigate a new kind of body/new kinds of genitals.

Hell, it might even be hot to that person that you’re like Christopher Colum-Booty. I think it’s a good idea to be transparent about your inexperience so they can decide if they’re into it, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to allow lack of experience to stop you from pursuing interest in another person.

3. It’s OK to be unsure.

Again, most of us have only ever really seen straightness modeled to us. So, you’ve had about (enter age here) years of experience learning EXACTLY how to love men and dick. You’re entering uncharted territory, and as long as you’re doing the work to see this person in their total humanity, I think you will figure it out.

My friend was telling me about the first time she fell for a woman. She was 17 and had only been with dudes since she had been sexually active from age 13. She told me she was terrified that she was a lesbian, and that at first she didn’t know what to do with pussy. She wasn’t even sure she liked it. It was a big shift away from dick. But when it came time to have sex, she said “alright, I’m here. Let’s do this.” I loved how she described it: “like being underwater.” And she ended by saying “pussy is like whiskey. It’s an acquired taste.”

I hope this helps!




Virgie Tovar, MA is an author, activist and one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, November 2012) and the mastermind behind #LoseHateNotWeight. She holds a Master's degree in Human Sexuality with a focus on the intersections of body size, race and gender. Virgie has been featured by the New York Times, MTV, Al Jazeera, the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan Magazine Online, and Bust Magazine. Find her at www.virgietovar.com.

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