Image provided by Callaigh
This is the sixth of many posts with answers to my Size & Sexuality Study questions within them. The responses have not been edited in any way. I hope you find them as interesting and informative as I have. I have gotten a huge number of responses already and I still want more! If you would like to answer these questions you can find more information on The Size & Sexuality Study here.
Callaigh is a 22 year old who describes herself as “about 98% female. I suppose technically I count as bigendered, as there is a small corner of my brain that identifies as male and likes to check women out, and would fuck them if I had the body to go with. (On the other hand, lesbian sex with a woman as a woman does absolutely nothing for me.) I don’t take particular steps to dress femininely on a regular basis, and have cross-dressed on occasion (and identified, internally at least, as male while en homme.) I don’t feel like I can really call myself bigendered, though, as that seems to exaggerate the presence of my animus — it’s nowhere near half and half, and I consider myself basically female with a little corner of separate, male identity.”
When asked to describe her sexual orientation she says: “[I am] quite heterosexual — both my female and male identities. :p (It took me a few years to figure out that I wasn’t bisexual, though, since I do find women attractive…just from a male point of view.)” Currently “I have a best-friend-I-sleep-with, whom I’ll call Dov here. We’re also currently sharing living quarters, a new experience for me.
What size is your body?
Well, heh, I am 5’6″ and shaped like a female dwarf in World of Warcraft — that’s what I tell most people, and that’s what I have as my “avatar” for this internet handle (attached). Saying that I’m about 250 lbs. can be misleading, since I not only have a large frame, but a not-insignificant amount of muscle, and I also carry my extra weight fairly evenly over my body. People often underestimate my weight by 20 or 30 lbs.; I myself have no concept of what a given weight on a given height looks like, really, so even though I know my numbers I prefer not to use them. I have also used terms to describe myself such as (often ironically) “Renaissance beauty” (I am very fair-skinned and decidedly curvy, but have dark hair and eyes) or “cuddly.” I make an awesome pillow. :)
How comfortable are you with your body both in general and your body size specifically?
I generally feel like I’m pretty comfortable with my body. Most of my concerns about my size are practical ones rather than psychological ones: having a hard time being able to find clothing that fits well, not being able to fit my wide hips into some spaces easily (like opera house seats and armchairs,) being hard on shoes and on my joints, and health concerns like being prediabetic and prone to heart disease. Of course I have the occasional twinge of self-consciousness, but it’s less often over the size of my belly and hips than things like stretch marks or breast shape, or being knock-kneed. I actually have a bit of a problem, because I look in the mirror and see myself as looking pretty good, even when an oufit will later prove itself to be quite, quite unflattering. I think of myself as sexual and sexy, and usually feel that way when it’s appropriate, even if I don’t advertise it and tend to dress rather plainly/modestly most of the time. I just wish I had a more accurate body image so I could avoid some of the more egregious mistakes I’ve made in choosing clothing that doesn’t fit OR flatter. :P
How has your relation with and attitude toward your body and the size of your body changed over time?
I joke that I’ve always been in the 99th percentile in everything, and my size is no exception. My mother is a physician, and so when I was growing up she would put me on her scale and measure my height, then pull out this giant green book of pediatric growth charts and show me where I was. By the end of elementary school, I was off the page — and I wasn’t even that overweight then. She used to warn me sternly that if I wasn’t careful, I wouldn’t be able to fit into “regular clothes” anymore and would have to shop in plus sizes. Well, I’m a pretty solid 20/22W now, so so much for that. :p I was also teased mercilessly as a child about my weight, called the Pillsbury Dough-girl (in part because I would yelp when poked in the stomach,) etc. Oddly enough, though, I somehow became determined not to care about my size or become obsessed with dieting and such, in part perhaps because I learned about eating disorders fairly early on, in another part because it was the fashionable thing to do and I had nothing but disdain for the fashionable for a long time, and probably also in part because when someone puts pressure on me about something, especially if it’s a goal I see as being very difficult to accomplish to begin with, I tend to respond with apathy — and my mother, the physician, did her best to impress upon me the dire consequences of obesity in every regard.
How important is sexuality to your life?
I’d say it’s pretty important. Perhaps oddly, my interest in it is largely intellectual, and dealing with where it intersects a lot of my other philosophical/psychological/biological interests, though I have been cognizant of the sexual aspects of my body since at least three years of age.
How has your relation with and attitude toward your sexuality changed over time?
It’s…been an interesting trip. When liking boys and going ga-ga over celebrities was fashionable, I didn’t want anything to do with it. I’ve always had a pragmatic, almost academic approach to relationships, and it didn’t make any sense for me to start dating when it wouldn’t mean anything. I had crushes, of course, after a point, but felt that it was just way too early for me to start anything physical, or even a serious emotional relationship. Even in high school I told my boyfriend (who wasn’t supposed to be my boyfriend — we were just supposed to be dating-as-in-going-on-dates) never to “kiss me with desire.” Of course, I was also coming off a three-year radical Catholicism spree in which I learned that oh by the way that thing you’ve been doing since you were three? Sin against God and your future spouse. Oops. Yeah, I gave myself a lot of grief over that before I just sort of got over it and gave up. There are still echoes of that idea that fantasizing about others is disrespectful — I don’t ever have long, drawn-out narrative fantasies, only brief kinesthetic flashes of desire — and I still have an abiding distaste for “real people” porn. (Finding Dov FUCKING SEXY when he’s just gotten out of the shower, though? Totally cool with me. I suspect he doesn’t mind either.)
One thing I do still find problematic is reconciling two kinds of innocence: innocence of knowledge and innocence of guilt.. I feel that in our society too often sexual experience, especially for women, equates to guilt: experienced women are soiled, marred, impure, and disposable, subject to everyone’s desire if they are subject to that of one person, even themselves (c.f. my paranoia about being found out for owning a dildo.) But I can’t pretend that I’m innocent of knowledge anymore, at least not to myself. (To my parents, and to those whose no business it is, well. That’s another thing entirely.) I boggled the other day that, in saying that Dov is a fantastic kisser, I realized I had six other people to compare him to. By some people’s standards, that makes me a slut.
But I haven’t done anything wrong. I still feel childlike, innocent and, yes, pure. And why shouldn’t I feel that way? I haven’t hurt anyone or done anything irresponsible or betrayed some essential nature of myself — quite the contrary. So I say that while I am not innocent of knowledge, and thank god for that — I have never valued naiveté, and did a lot of self-sexual-education before I ever was even considering a sexual relationship with someone — I am innocent of guilt. And I’m not going to let anyone else convince me otherwise.
How comfortable are you with expressing yourself and your body sexually?
That very much depends on context. I still find that being seen as sexual by the body politic tends to invite unwanted attention and provoke unwarranted assumptions that I just don’t want to deal with, so I dress modestly and conduct myself demurely in general — and I just don’t think it would be in my nature to advertise my proclivities even if there weren’t any consequences. However, in certain contexts — with someone I’m involved with, obviously, or (to take one strange example) on the dance floor of a club, the usual order of things is not present and so I can be sexual and still be safe without worrying about losing respect. (One funny story about clubs, though: I’ve only been “clubbing” once, and took great glee in inverting the usual “booty dancing” protocol — I had boys dancing on my hips, my legs between theirs and my hand firm against the small of their backs, pulling their bodies against me: instead of presenting myself as an object of desire, which role I’ve never been comfortable accepting because it is too passive and too dependent one externals except in close relationships, and involves too much of a giving-over of power to the eyes of the beholder (hah!), I decided to let the boys come to me, myself remaining unabashed and confirmed in my own sexiness. And they did. :3 It was delicious.)
How comfortable is society with the idea of viewing your body as sexual?
Probably not very comfortable, haha! I’m curvy, but I’m nowhere near the “ideal” curviness that seems to be cropping up as the alternative proposed by size-positive groups. The ideal hasn’t been abolished; just moved — see the Dove ads, for one. For another, less idealistic example, I’ve noticed that “chubby” appreciation threads on 4chan (a wretched hive of scum and villainy, but it passes the time upon occasion) mostly just have normal-sized women…with extremely large breasts. I’m proportional. On a smaller woman, my breasts would be a C-cup, though on me they’re a D because of the weirdness with the way bra sizes work. A girl who was rather slimmer than I (though still “chubby”) with proportionally larger breasts, posted pictures of herself and was told that she “really drew the short stick; your boobs are kinda small for a fat chick.” That said, society can go fuck itself, by and large, because I have had PLENTY of affirmation that there’s a good chunk of the population that thinks I’m damn hot. :p I don’t demand that the maximum number of people find me attractive; in fact, I think that would be a burden! That said, people who would find me attractive solely because I fit into a certain size category piss me off no matter what size they see as ideal. I am not a size. I’m not “a BBW” any more than I’m a 36-24-36. I’m me, dammit, not a collection of checkmarked traits. I don’t have a “type” (for men) — who I find attractive is largely based on how close I feel to them, how much solidarity and understanding exists between us. If someone finds me attractive just because I’m “their type,” I tend to view that attraction as ungenuine, and more likely to be debunked later when they recognize all the traits of mine that don’t fit their type. (Strangely enough, though…with women, I do have a general type, and a girl who fits it will literally turn my head. I like hips. A lot. Of course, there is the added layer that I don’t see myself as having very close relationships with other women, even friendships — I tend to get along better with guys — and due to the exigencies of biology, I don’t see myself ever pursuing a sexual relationship with a woman unless they come up with some way of body-swapping on demand so I can have the male body to suit the male part of my brain that likes to interrupt my train of thought when a hot girl walks by.)
Through answering these questions and/or thinking about your relation to your body and your sexuality, have you noticed any links or similarities between the two? If so, what?
Er. I suppose I take a pragmatic, accepting approach to both in a society that is rather fond of dealing with both in idealized, judgmental ways.