Life in the time of Corona has been wild. The chances of seeing friends and family safely seem quite slim, but as our world becomes more socially distant, there has been one thing keeping us all connected: the Internet. Social media and platforms such as Zoom and Google Hangouts have been giving us new and creative ways to turn up, create content, and even date.
I, for one, have been using my unlimited data plan to connect with somebody’s son(s) from around the globe. You’d think that virtual dating would be easier right now due to everyone and their mama being bored at home. However, as a fat Black woman, I find that this experience hasn’t been a walk in the park. Let me walk y’all through three instances where virtually dating while fat was a hot mess.
- The Risk-Taker
There are two kinds of men: ones that are upfront and abrasive and those who are willing to risk it all, even during a pandemic, for the punani. Needless to say that I have become well-acquainted with both of these types. Back in March, I matched with a fellow New Jerseyan who was a tall, dark, handsome man. All was well until he propositioned me for the proverbial “smoke and chill” sesh. I kindly, but sternly, reminded him that we were in the midst of a whole pandemic, and he simply replied with “We good. I ain’t have symptoms, but I got a test at the drive-thru, and I was negative for Covid-19.” Let’s briefly unpack this. First off, I’m still baffled as to why this guy fixed his fingers to lie about obtaining a test. At that time, New Jersey wasn’t letting ANYBODY without Covid-19 symptoms get tested, so even Ray Charles could see he was trying to play me. In addition, ol’ boy was too calm and willing to link up with me, a total stranger, which is a big ass red flag. Y’all have no regard for yourself or loved ones who are most susceptible to this virus, and it shows.
- The Fat Shamer
In this episode of “I Hate It Here: The Dating Edition,” I encountered an oil rigger on a women-centric dating app whose lengthy response time seemed as if he were still offshore. When we were finally able to have a semblance of a conversation, he decided to hit me with “if we date, you gotta work out. I’m not playing boo.” Furious, I uploaded a screenshot of this conversation to Instagram and immediately contacted the admins of the app, requesting that his profile be removed and that the app considers creating a safer space for fat Black femmes. The rep, who informed me that she was a fat woman, told me that his behavior was intolerable, and his profile was removed. She also followed up with comments about how the app is working tediously behind the scenes to ensure the safety and inclusivity of all women and that they admired my fervor.
I was touched by the care and attention to this matter, but part of me still felt unheard. This manchild, who clearly saw that I was larger-bodied from the jump, still decided to message me on some “we can date, but you have to lose weight” type of ish! Clearly, he doesn’t realize that fatness and fitness aren’t mutually exclusive. I actually enjoy working out, and the gym was my second home right up until the outbreak. I’m sick of men joining these dating apps only to fat shame and police women’s bodies. I understand that you can’t really gauge a person’s behavior before they act on it, but I also feel these apps could go the extra mile to promote inclusivity, especially as it pertains to larger-bodied women. Having user-generated input through the formulation of task forces, in-depth surveys, and panels would really strengthen the infrastructure of dating apps in general.
- Casper the Friendly Love Bomber
After the fat-shaming fiasco, I thought my experiences with virtual dating had reached peak negativity. I felt that I was running out of options and was ready to forego dating altogether. At my lowest point, I met a “true gentleman” whom I found to be both physically and mentally attractive. We had conversations about fat acceptance and support for queer folx in communities. He was fine AF, educated, and socially progressive. In that moment, I could’ve sworn I hit the jackpot. However, I was sadly mistaken. Over the course of two days, he had showered me with compliments, interest, and praise, and then poof! He unmatched me on the app and blocked my text messages, leaving me quite confused and annoyed. I didn’t understand why he would ghost me, especially when our conversation was great.
It was at this point in time where I decided to throw the whole Internet away. Between these aforementioned incidents and constantly being fetishized for my size, I often wonder if my size is to blame for my mistreatment. Dating at my size has always been a challenge for me. There have been times where my partners have made comments that were lowkey fatphobic or misogynistic, and this triggered my anxiety, insecurity, and imposter syndrome. I felt that being fat and Black was a hindrance and questioned if my success and achievements were fleeting because I didn’t fit societal beauty standards. I know that I’m deserving of romance, care, and appreciation, but part of me thought my fat body was the cause of my failure, and virtual dating played a part in reinforcing these negative feelings.
Suddenly, I grew tired of feeling hopeless and unlovable. I knew that I had to make a choice, and that choice was me. Quarantine may not be the most ideal time for me to date others, but I’ll be damned if it’s not the time for me to date myself. I traded nights of aimless swipes for edibles and anime. I fostered and revived my love of self-pleasure with sex toys, porn, and erotica. I dressed myself up in lingerie and took artistic nudes for me to look at and appreciate my body.
In the quiet moments of my self-isolation, I returned to my spiritual roots. Flipping tarot, using candle magic, and writing affirmations on my vision board became my solace. Listening to my intuition and putting positive intent into all I do are practices I’ve implemented to keep my mental health in check. Exploring my sexuality and spirituality are not only acts of self-love but also acts of resistance, a peaceful protest against my haters. Doing the things I love most also helped me find myself and manifest my career and personal goals. I decided to use my pain to fuel my craft by creating a podcast, Instagram live show, and other content that empowers and supports fat women of color, their struggles, and their stories. I wanted to show the world that I, too, am a human being, and my fatness was not my failure. My fatness is my strength and the mechanism which reinspired me to find the things that I have been wanting to receive from others: security, validation, and love.