Thick, curvy, voluptuous—nah. I’m a proud fat Black chick with no hangups about my size, and I have the nerve to expect a romantic interest to be comfortable with it. I learned a long time ago that I needed to love myself before anyone else was going to love me, so I’m perfectly happy being on my own if I can’t find a partner who accepts me as I am. But my past experience has borne out that it’s not impossible for a fat chick to get a date. Being sexy and fat isn’t as hard as some people would have you believe.

That said, society doesn’t exactly make it easy on fat women to develop healthy self-esteem. Even within the Black community, where fat is supposedly accepted so much more readily than in other cultures, fat women experience discrimination, disgust and ridicule. Fat might be more acceptable, but you have to be a certain kind of fat—padding in all the “right” places and none where it’s not desirable. Fat women with bodies that don’t fit the bill are either desexualized and Mammy-fied, or their sexuality is seen as a joke—take for example, Eddie Murphy’s Rasputia in “Norbit.”  Black men dressing in fat woman drag and overpowering skinny men with their animalistic desire gets a lot of laughs because society has conditioned us to see fat female sexuality as something to be laughed at or disgusted by.

Where dating is concerned, there’s another stereotype regarding fat women to contend with that runs rampant in the minds of men in particular—the mythological fat chick with low self-esteem who will let any brother still breathing have a taste. While there are, of course, fat women out there with low self-esteem, most of the fat chicks I know aren’t down to settle for just anyone. This stereotype tends to be applied most often if you’ve got boobs and a booty. You might be carrying that spare tire, but that won’t stop men from hitting it and quitting it the morning after. Just don’t tell their boys.

The images we’re bombarded with via sources such as fashion magazines, hip hop videos, “reality” TV, and other outlets of mainstream media, reinforce the dominant cultural paradigm which states that only thin bodies can be desirable. Fat women are taught that they are less-than and unworthy of love or sexual pleasure. Being Black women, we already are made to believe that we’re not as attractive or desirable as our White counterparts—add fat to the mix and you’ve got a cocktail deadly to our self-esteem. Not to mention the constant barrage of news stories telling us we’re doomed to be single. If thin Black women aren’t getting any love, what are the chances for us fat Black chicks?

It’s often said that being a Black woman means you have to work twice as hard as the next White woman to be seen as equal. That goes doubly for fat Black women in the dating game. Everything has to be on point—hair bangin’, makeup perfectly applied, style impeccable—just to be noticed. Is it fair? Of course not. Is it real? Unfortunately, yes. But although appearance may be the key to get you in the door, even more important for your well-being and success at finding a quality partner is your internal game. It may be cliché, but confidence in yourself is your best asset. All you’re going to attract are scrubs if you don’t have a self-assured aura—and, yes, that means some nights you might be alone. It’s better to not have a date than to end up with some fool who doesn’t appreciate your value. You have to realize that you deserve a partner who isn’t out to take advantage of you or isn’t ashamed to be seen with you in the daylight. Don’t end up on someone’s “booty call” list.

If loving your body as it is is new to you, I suggest you get familiar with some voluptuous Black women who are famously comfortable in their own skin–and offering their tips on how to feel the same. I’m talking our lady Afrobella, the amazing Marie Denee of The Curvy Fashionista, everyone’s favorite MTV TJ Gabi Gregg, the forever fashion-forward Xtina from Musings of a Fatshionista, and any of the other gorgeous Black “fatshion” bloggers out there repping for the stylish plus-size chicks. Seeing these women work it just might give you the self-confidence to say no to the next zero who’s trying to hook up for a one-nighter. Unless, of course, you feel like a one-nighter, to which I say go get yours–as long as you’re doing it because you’re feeling sexually liberated and not downtrodden and lonely. Not judging, just saying.

Despite all of the obstacles fat Black women face while trying to find a potential partner, it’s not all bad. There are good prospects out there, you just need to be patient, refuse to suffer fools gladly, and practice self-love. Trust that if you send positive energy out there, you’ll get it in return. You might have to whack a few weeds down, but it’ll be worth it when you find that person who’s going to make you feel like the gorgeous fat Black woman you are. Belly, hips, thighs and all.

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