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Body Positivity / Relationships

I Could Benchpress My Husband, And He Loves It

Fat, Fit, and Horny.

Photos and words by Caroline Anderson.

I, of all people, should have no trouble being confident with my sexuality. I grew up on Dan Savage columns and queer Showtime dramas, I knew how to give myself an orgasm long before anyone saw me naked, and I have taken many a newbie to purchase their first vibrator. 

But confidence is something I’ve never been able to claim. Informed, yes. Curious, sure. But never confident. Call it the trauma of being a fat teen in an era of low-rise denim and spaghetti strap dresses.

In addition to my fatness, I have a skin condition called Hidradenitis which you don’t want to Google, but without being graphic, it means it’s cyst-city surrounding my sacred flower or whatever. Cute, huh?

But confidence is something I’ve never been able to claim. Informed, yes. Curious, sure. But never confident. Call it the trauma of being a fat teen in an era of low-rise denim and spaghetti strap dresses.

On top of all that, growing up I was also strongly declared to be non-straight by my parents from a very young age (yeah, I’m the crazy one for being more interested in Rachael Leigh Cook than Aaron Carter, sure). I think they were trying to be supportive of their weird, strong-willed, achingly feminist daughter but that’s not what happened. It just added to my teen struggle.

Not having sex didn’t help. Neither did having lots of bad sex with strangers. Neither did finding a loving, monogamous partner.

My husband, let’s just say… knows what he likes. It’s great for me as his partner, but it only highlights how much I don’t know about what I like or who I am sexually. I’m one of those fats who learned to tell jokes, which doesn’t help when someone else’s face is between your legs. Often times, my favorite part of sex is when it’s over and I can check my phone again.

My husband, let’s just say… knows what he likes. It’s great for me as his partner, but it only highlights how much I don’t know about what I like or who I am sexually.

Interestingly enough, the partner I found is an illusive bisexual man (an archetype those queer Showtime dramas convinced me wasn’t real). When you are the girlfriend or wife to a bisexual man, people have their questions — I usually hear about them via third party as a half-joke. People often don’t get how this drag-loving, thirst-trapping, Kacey Musgraves fan gets it up for me. To be fair, I didn’t always either. Am I supposed to be ultra-femme? Andro? Butch it up? Who does he want me to be?

The answer is: Myself. That’s why he loves me. “Okay, but I still don’t know who I am?” I might as well be shouting out on top of a mountain.

A year ago, I picked up a kettlebell for the first time in my life (I was one of those kids who did Marching Band to get a PE credit.) Before that day, the only time I ever broke a sweat intentionally was in a community theater production of Bye Bye Birdie. But I happened to walk into a fat-positive, inclusive fitness class and I came back the next day. I never stopped going back.

It took me a minute to warm up to Caroline: The Fitness Human. But around six months in, I had become a full-blown Instagram monster. People would compliment me on my weight loss journey and I’d respond, “I haven’t lost any weight and I still eat candy every day!” Being a fat person excelling in fitness felt like espionage, and rather than let people make me into their sad little “before” picture, I slapped them over the head with my strong, proud, fat quads. In some ways, I became fatter than ever. I put away my black cardigans and maxi skirts and brought my fat ass to the party everywhere I went. 

And guess who really likes my unapologetic fat squat vids? That beautiful bi husband of mine. When I started getting bruises from my Clean-and-Jerks, he earnestly approached me asking “Is it okay for me to tell you how hot I think that is?” When he watches me lift, he has a smile like no other. I never knew how nice it would be to hear the man you love ask you to crush his head with your thighs. 

I put away my black cardigans and maxi skirts and brought my fat ass to the party everywhere I went. 

Think about that whole thing with salt: It’s not supposed to make your food salty, it’s supposed to make your food taste more like itself. That’s what lifting has meant for my sense of self and sexuality. By exposing my stomach, grabbing a barbell, and holding it over my head with my flabby arms I feel more feminine than ever. I’m a girly bitch, I have a collection of colorful tights and hair bows that will frighten you. But that stuff feels like costuming to hide the type of woman I am, which is fat and strong and pedantic and show-off-y. I take up space and it’s a good thing that I do because I’m smart and funny and have things to contribute. I’m a fucking Velma, a fat Velma, and guess what? Without Velma, Scooby and Shaggy would be dead.

By exposing my stomach, grabbing a barbell, and holding it over my head with my flabby arms I feel more feminine than ever.

Has my sex life changed spectacularly since my swollening? A little (not for nothing, hip mobility stretches are a great daily practice for The Girl Who Likes To Ride). But I don’t think my sexuality is about time, place, and duration. I think it’s about my ability to walk through this world, one that is unsafe for fat women primarily because of our presumed sexual currency, with the understanding that any person I meet would be lucky as hell to have me sit on their face. Maybe I’m not meant to hold court at brunch over my sexcapades, both real and embellished. I have better shit to talk about.

By putting my body on display, by bringing it with me wherever I go, I no longer have to pretend I don’t live inside of it. There’s nothing to over-compensate for, my body is perfect.

Caroline Anderson is a writer in Los Angeles whose credits include Comedy Bang! Bang!, Liza on Demand, and Comedy Central’s Corporate. In her spare time she enjoys puppet shows, olympic lifting, and … wow, only two hobbies, turns out.

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