Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When Prejudice Informs Preferences

People like to think they’re the masters of their own souls. That their thoughts and opinions are theirs alone and that they’re basically good people. They don’t like to admit, and sometimes outright refuse to admit, that social conditioning that inform their opinions and even sexual preferences.


The wheels started turning when a friend posted an article about racism and preferences in sexual partners and skin color. Unfortunately a lot of people came out saying that they just preferred white people to date. It had nothing to do with prejudice, it was just an honest to goodness preference.


Unfortunately, preferences don’t exist in a vacuum. We grow up in a society, in a world, that hails light skin as a marker for beauty while dark skin is demonized as ugly with a lot of nasty stereotypes behind it.


My experience as a fat woman is that people often have preferences for thinness, even people in the fat acceptance community or allies. I’m here today to tell you that those preferences are not innate. There isn’t a shred of evidence to suggest we are born with certain preferences in appearance when it comes to sexuality. Obviously this doesn’t include sexual orientation but, i’m sorry, thinsexuality is not a real thing. If you’re only attracted to thin people, men, women, or anyone else, then it’s a product of how you’ve been conditioned. Yes, you’ve basically been brain washed.


I’ll tell you a little secret. I used to not like thin women. I don’t mean that I hated them for being thin, I mean that I wasn’t attracted to them sexually. I had no preference for the types of men that I dated- thin, fat, or in between- but I only dated other fat women. I told myself it was just a preference and one that I couldn’t do anything about.

I was wrong.


After some introspection, I found that sex with thin women made me uneasy because it made me self conscious. I was sure they would be judging me and comparing my body to theirs, as I was comparing mine to theirs. After working on my own self esteem and challenging my own ideas of attraction I’ve found that I can very much be attracted to thin women.


Yes, you can make yourself be attracted to body types that you weren’t previously attracted to. I don’t mean by sheer force of will, I simply mean by challenging your own deeply held prejudices, you can begin to strip them away and a whole new world of possibilities will be opened up to you.


Thinness isn’t achievable for many people and, in our current global climate, more and more people are chubby to fat. Let’s face it, you’d better start being attracted to fat people because your options are running out. In that same vein, the reason why thinness is so idealized is because it’s so difficult to attain. I know it’s an old trope, but in a time when most people were starving to death, plumpness was a marker for beauty. When everyone was wearing bell bottomed pants, suddenly skinny jeans became the new trend. Pin straight flat hair in the 70’s? Giant teased and permed tresses in the 80’s. We have a habit of wanting and doing the opposite of what’s available. It’s why we’re willing to pay so much for rare jewels and precious metals.

The bottom line is that, while it may not be your fault that your preferences are informed by your prejudices, it’s your responsibility to overcome them. Not being attracted to fat people is fatphobic, whether that’s your fault or society’s. It’s time to look inside of yourself and question where your attractions really come from, why, and to change them.

2 comments:

  1. Good point. You can change your preferences, when you understand them.

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  2. This is something I've been thinking about a lot more lately: where preferences and cultural conditioning/stereotyping meet. It is really hard, if not impossible to find any studies of people that are not influenced in their attractions toward people by culture but as our world, as I like to say, "Learns to cut the bs" we open our eyes to stereotypes and preferences. We think in a global perspective. Great post.��

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