It’s not a level playing field, and there’s no point pretending it is.
She says, “Look, I really like you, you’re truly a good guy, I think. On behalf of all the fat girls, I’m making you represent all the guys.” By making Louie represent “all the guys” on behalf of “all the fat girls,” Vanessa conjures the junction of where the big, impersonal beast of gendered, sociopolitical systems of power intersect with the intimate, personal, deeply subjective terrain of relationships between particular individuals.
Vanessa wasn’t just recounting her experience of dating as a fat woman; she was demanding recognition that she was worthy of respect and love in a culture hell-bent on denying fat women both.
For me, the brilliance of Vanessa’s words was that she didn’t position fat women as tragic figures needing pity or shame, nor did she boldly claim sexual empowerment in the name of fat women everywhere.
As a fat, white, middle-class woman like Vanessa, who sometimes dates men, I could relate.
The internet is full of stories about women being horrifically fat-shamed or harassed on dating sites, and yes, those stories need to be told. And at a certain point, I think they can become inadvertent scare tactics, frightening plus-sized women out of the dating pool.