‘Are you an FA?’

I’ve been active in the Fat Acceptance community for some way, shape, or form for about a year now. I’ve been much more active in recent months, and that’s when I noticed the ‘are you an FA’ phenomenon.

I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves every inch of me exactly as I am. I suspect it would be the same if I magically woke up tomorrow and was half the weight I am today. He loves my body, but if I decided to lose weight, he’d be able to find just as much to love about it then as he does now.

In the past few months, I’ve been barraged with many variations of the same question. ‘Is your boyfriend an FA?’

What exactly is an FA? Generally speaking it means ‘Fat Admirer’, although it can also be used as shorthand for Fat Activism or Fat Acceptance. But for my intents and purposes, we’re going to go with the former meaning.

Different people have different opinions on what exactly a Fat Admirer is or what the term entails. It’s a broad term, up there with ‘what constitutes fat’. Different people are going to have different opinions on it. Today, we’re just going to leave it as meaning ‘someone who likes fat people’. They can be male, they can be female, they can be anywhere in between. From what I’ve seen, it’s generally men who like fat women who use this term to describe themselves.

‘Is your boyfriend an FA?’

IS my boyfriend an FA? I guess if we’re going to cut this question down to its most basic terms. My boyfriend loves me. I’m fat. Ergo, I guess in some ways, yes, he is.

But at the same time, he’s anything but. It’s something he would never define or label himself as, and honestly, rightfully so. In the same way I would never use the words bbw, ssbbw, thick, curvy, chunky, juicy, round, or anything else to label myself. I’m fat. Obese, if we want to get medical about it. No need to pretty it up or justify it with a label.

So no. My boyfriend is NOT an FA because he doesn’t identify as such.

I wonder who decided these labels were necessary? In some ways, it’s nice. If you search ‘fat admirer’ on google, all kinds of sites for ‘FAs’ and ‘BBW’ come up. And if you’re new to the movement, and if you’ve felt ostracized your entire life for your preference, I suspect it must feel pretty good that there are others out there who are like you. To realize that there communities out there that are chock full of people who like the same thing you do, the same thing that society says you’d be crazy to be attracted to. Having a label for your attraction might feel pretty good at first.

But as included as you may feel, these labels tend to be very exclusive, as well. Are FAs ONLY allowed to be attracted to fat women? Are they supposed to find thin women repulsive? How fat is ‘fat’? And perhaps most importantly, why are you defining your attraction utterly by someone’s weight, when in the end, attraction consists of so much more?

When people ask me this question about my boyfriend, I try to defuse the situation with a tongue-in-cheek remark. ‘Nope–he’s an AA. An Amber Admirer!’ Most people get the point, chuckle, and move on. But a good number of them pursue it. They ask me if I’m the first fat girl he’s dated. If he’s attracted to other fat girls. If he only likes fat girls. I understand why they ask me instead of him. I tend to be much more high-profile online, whereas he prefers to keep his opinions more private. But what I don’t understand is why it matters. What relevance does it have to anyone else? I wonder sometimes (since many of these questions come from anonymous sources) if the people who ask are fat girls themselves with lower self esteem, hoping that a ‘normal’ man might one day love them, too.

In my ever so humble opinion. I think these labels tend to be more destructive than anything else. They separate people. It can be downright alienating! I mean, there aren’t huge groups and forums online for ‘blonde admirers’ or ‘c-cup admirers’. I understand that ‘liking’ fat people can be somewhat of a taboo in today’s society. But these groups that are ONLY for FAs and fats is really only serving to further marginalize and segregate, and thereby further ‘fetishize’ the concept of liking fat people. When it reality it should be of no more consequence than preferring dark hair or small boobs.

I say, throw the labels out. Your preferences are your preferences. You shouldn’t have to list them, defend them, or be defined by them!


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5 Responses to ‘Are you an FA?’

  1. Kevin Hooker says:

    If you wrote a book, about pretty much anything, I would read it. I love your writing style. As a side note, I hate to read. I know this is off topic on your post but I just wanted to tell you that. I agree with the anti-label thing. I get so tired of people being politically correct all the time. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

  2. Kevin Murphy says:

    As far as I know, FA and BBW originated with personal ads way back when you were charged per letter when you wanted to make one. They’ve stuck, for better or worse, but like I said last night I think that the bigger issue is the baggage that’s been applied to these labels rather than the labels themselves.

    Labels are, of course, ridiculous anyhow in this, and I agree that you should find a YOU admirer; but I also feel that as a broad and simple term it works for defining one aspect of what someone’s attracted to- whether that aspect plays a major part in it or a minor one.

  3. atchka says:

    I think FA has just become shorthand for the opposite of “normal” in terms of attraction. As an FA myself, I’m not locked-in to a certain size or shape, and I certainly can find thin women attractive. But what really stokes my fire are fat women. I don’t know why or how or anything about its origin, I only know that when I see a fat attractive woman I react differently than when I see a thin attractive woman.

    As for the usefulness of labels… well, essentially they’re a way to categorize what is in fact a distinct difference in taste. And FAs aren’t alone… in the gay community there is an entire language of attraction (think Chubby Chasers or Bears and Cubs) and it serves a purpose (typically that purpose is to find those who fit your physical desires). But ultimately, being attracted to a fat person is no different than being attracted to brunettes (which I am) or intelligence (which I am).

    The only difference is that if I’m seen walking around with a brunette, people won’t assume I’m just a friend or that if we are on a date, that I’m not desperate or on a sympathy date. Unlike all of those other characteristics, fat is the only one that our society says, “NOBODY thinks fat women are sexy.” Labeling myself an FA is my way of saying, “Fuck you, I sure as hell do.”

    Another point I would make on the segregation issue is that fat people are perfectly welcome to date outside of that FA/BBW bubble, but many of them really want or need that bubble to shield them from the hatred and animosity that many experience on the dating scene. My wife describes it like this: I don’t want to wait and guess whether the man I’m dating will find me attractive. I want to date people who find my body desirable the way it is, and when you date an FA, that’s what you get.

    So maybe that’s another utilitarian aspect of it… you don’t have to wonder whether the person you’re dating will be repulsed at the sight of your naked body… you know up front that they dig you, rolls and all.

    But I don’t think the FA tag takes away the basics of human attraction (that physical attraction means nothing unless there’s a deeper, emotional connection). I think it just puts a stamp of distinction on a certain subset of guys who don’t follow the mainstream views of beauty.


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  5. Serenisis says:

    I appreciate this so much 🙂 I’ve been met with the same questions and labels many times and have also only recently stepped into this online community of fat acceptance in the last year or so. Still, I never met anyone who felt the same way I did about being called an SSBBW — most use it to attract even more attention that I can’t say I care for. Even worse, anyone I end up dating –must be– an FA (according to others) which results in skepticism and judgment about someone’s sexual preferences. Then I get bombarded with everyone else’s fears that I’m going to get hurt by a kinky, sex-crazed fat lover who will never appreciate all of my awesomeness inclusive of mind and body. Agh, too complicated and shallow for my liking. Thank you for being a voice of reason, definitely well-said!

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