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Fat Girls Get Sex, Not Relationships
Looking for love in all the wrong places—when sordid stories feel better than no stories.
July 12, 1981 - 100 kilos*.
I’d just turned fourteen and passed the very large and very round marker of 100 kilos. I’d already failed a few times at reversing my rampant weight gain by doing what my doctors told me by day; but still having food orgies by night. Obese was still the best way to describe me.
Thin was in - so I was out. It didn’t take me long to catch that if I couldn’t be wanted for being thin - I could be wanted for sex. My thin friends weren’t going all the way, and that gave me an edge.
My family spent the summer in Megeve that year; a quaint village in the Alps for the hugely wealthy. Back home, my acting out was starting to become dangerous, but in the mountains, I was allowed to do whatever I wanted - as if trouble couldn’t find me there. I suspect they needed a vacation from policing me - I certainly needed one from them.
In Paris, I’d mastered the art of pillow-placing — making it look like I was in bed when I wasn’t — spending nights with my gang Emilie, Dominic and Jean, avoiding being arrested for disorderly conduct; organizing secret parties in warehouses, putting detergent and pink dye in fountains, and buying motorcycles with stolen money.
Riding said motorcycle around the city was short-lived; it died when I ran a red light, banged into, and flew over, what turned out to be a police car. When my parents were informed, they reacted as they should. “It can’t be her, she doesn’t have a motorcycle.” I got grounded big time for that one: I’d stolen their money, bought a bike illegally, used a fake ID, failed to get insurance, hit a police car, and almost got myself killed. Yikes.
Their response to my acting out was to tighten my social screws. Their focus on my obesity had faded, as they couldn’t control what I put — or didn’t put — in my mouth. So they added curfews and lockdowns with keys I didn’t have in an attempt to confine me to perimeters that fit their purview. But not on vacation. There, they loosened their grip and put me under no regulations at all.
The folklore version of the story goes like this: I would wake up around 4:00 pm, eat pasta carbonara, consider swimming but not do it because it’d frizz my hair, so I’d watch TV instead, get ready to go clubbing, and not return until 6:00 am; only to do it all over again the next day — every day.
On a very rare daylight outing, I met Pierre-Henri at The Megeve Tennis Club, standing at the end of the leash of a Saint Bernard. He wasn’t a model but should have been. He had a square chin, shiny black hair, a faint smell of vanilla, and lips I wanted to kiss.
He looked sad. I’ve always had a thing for sad guys; it makes them look deep and intelligent. As I found out later, that day was the first anniversary of the death of his mother, who’d been killed by a drunk driver the summer before.
“Your dog is soft,” I said, making the face that seemed so intriguing to boys; a mix of a smile and a pout.
“You should feel my skin, it’s even softer,” he said, walking away.
His comment went directly between my legs. A combo of wet and hot and tight. I knew that sensation — kind of. But not really. I liked it — I knew that.
I met up with my besties — Vanina and Stephanie — at the local discotheque, ‘L’esquinade’ around 10 pm, as I did every night.
Phil Collins’, In the Air Tonight, was playing when I arrived and Pierre-Henri was standing by the door, looking just as good without his dog. I felt that thing between my legs again.
“Come to my car,” he said. Piercing blue eyes, bossy tone. “I want you to listen to a song with me.”
I was fat, he was handsome as hell - that did not compute. Maybe, he was so confident, he didn’t need validation from a trophy girlfriend.
We walked outside, he with a whiskey and Coke; me, with a Coke only. I’d gotten so sick from alcohol poisoning the previous winter that I got nauseous just thinking about it.
We looked at the stars, sitting in his British racing green Spitfire convertible, listening to the song he’d wanted me to hear, Umberto Tozzi’s Italian love song, Ti Amo, and I freaked OUT. I love you, really? I was trying not to let my internal cylinders fire full speed. I wanted to be wanted so badly.
“Can we go back to your hotel?” he asked.
“Oui,” I said.
“Can I kiss your lips?” he asked.
“Oui,” I said.
And he did. At every light, every stop between the club and the hotel; even where there was no stop or light; he pulled over or he didn’t, in the middle of this windy mountain road; he kissed me and I laughed; and only after the third kiss, did I stop thinking about his mother and her drunk driver.
When we got to the hotel, he kissed me one last time, slowly pulling my hair, bordering on painful, and walked away backward, blowing kisses to very confused and very turned-on - me.
I drew a cool bath to try to quiet what was happening in the pit of my stomach, and lower. Before I got in the water, I heard a knock-knock from outside the window and wrapped myself in a towel that didn’t quite make it around my torso. I thought I’d grabbed the large; perhaps I had. I swallowed my shame at this unkind reminder and opened the window. He climbed in.
I smiled at the perfection that I’d ended up on the ground floor after losing out to my brother, getting the “better” room with the fifth-floor mountain-view.
“Can I sleep with you?” Pierre asked with a smile and a flower.
“Oui,” I said, completely unable to say “non.”
“I am twenty-four, how old are you?” he asked.
“Eighteen,” I lied. Towel held-ish around my boobs, doing my pout-and-smile.
“Is this your first time?”
“Non,” I lied again, knowing that if I told him the truth, he’d most likely leave.
Any moment now, he was going to see more of me. I had a passing thought that I should have turned off the light before letting him in. In the dark, I could have forgotten I was fat; but with the light on, I would have to think about what my body looked like, on top of everything else I was already thinking about.
He untied the knot on my faltering towel and kissed me. It was a small room and, quickly, we were on the bed. He made love to me, slowly and beautifully. I didn’t feel any pain. From the moment that towel fell, I had no idea what time it was, where I was, how long it’d been. I didn’t think about the consequences, including STDs or pregnancy. I didn’t wonder if I’d see him again. I didn’t question if I should let him do what he wanted. He did, and I loved every second of it.
The next morning, he got up early. On his way out the door, he paused and said, “I have to go, my girlfriend’s arriving from Paris on the 12:04 train.”
The next night at the club, I spotted him immediately. And her. God, she was breathtaking. Walking towards them, I had a few feet to regroup and say hello graciously. “What were you thinking?” I told myself unkindly. “Did you really believe that handsome guy would want to be seen with you?”
There was an unspoken agreement between Pierre-Henri and me. He knew I wouldn’t make a scene, and I knew not to make one. If I was to venture a guess as to why, it had something to do with my being fat. The fact that we’d just made love, and it was my first time, gave me no status — not even with myself.
The metaphorical tear in my heart was painful, even if the physical one hadn’t been. I didn’t tell anyone for days. Not Vanina, not Stephanie. As long as I didn’t speak it out loud, I could remain in denial. I could daydream about how delicious the night had been, without admitting how sordid it actually was. My body, my story, my right.
Pierre-Henri was my first legit sexual encounter, but the sexual objectification I was subjected to, had began earlier — not exactly sure when — but based on the number of erotic pictures my father took of me as a toddler, I’d suspect very young.
Considering what I was exposed to, I knew early on that my relationship trajectory would not be, “Boy meets girl, girl loves boy. Yay.” The rule of sex and love as a teen was complex. Mine was more so with the added layer of my fatness.
Sept 12- Octobrer 29 1981 - 110 kilos**.
I met Jean-Louis G. and Jean-Philippe M. on the same night, a few months later. My friend Delphine had the key to her family condo, and we all got approval from our parents to sleep there on a Saturday night. The adults had no idea there would be a full-on party; and boys. Delphine being a super-square straight-A student, and I, being a trouble-making machine, I was always blamed if we got caught.
Jean-Louis approached me first. He was very slick, with his wavy sandy hair held by strong gel, smart glasses, and the sad look I liked. He seemed really into me, that was hot; at my weight, I was never the obvious first option.
“I like your smell,” he said, nudging his face in my neck.
I laughed. He liked that.
Neither quite volunteering nor quite resisting, I was maneuvered into the parents’ bedroom; onto their bed, to be more specific. There I was, hoping sex would bring me intimacy.
We were kissing, then I was naked, and then he was inside me.
That’s when I noticed the other guy standing there. Black curly hair and geeky shoulders; I’d seen him earlier in the living room, and found out later his name was Jean-Philippe. I closed my eyes.
When I opened them, they were switching. Jean Philippe’s moves were a bit clumsier, his skinnier body not as comfortable. His eagerness did not make up for it. He came very quickly and left the room like it never happened. Jean-Louis kissed my cheek and went back to the party. I sat on the bed alone, wondering if I should feel pride or shame.
I saw them again; many times. There was a maid’s room above Jean Philippe’s parents’ apartment. Sometimes they even invited their friends. I don’t think I ever knew their names. It took me a long time to figure out that something was not right with that picture. It never occurred to me to say non.
I didn’t know I was in pain; I was covering it with food. I really thought I’d outsmarted it and could come out on the other side, unharmed. Not so. All it did was delay and amplify the problem. The less I was dealing with my pain, the bigger it was getting. Technically, the bigger I was getting.
I liked being wanted by these guys. I liked one-upping the other girls my age. I liked the secrecy; having a submarine life nobody knew anything about. I liked the power. I liked the attention.
Many years later, I was in therapy talking about the fast pre-breakfast departure of a one-night stand, and it reminded me of an early morning drop-off after a long night with those boys, walking to my parents’ very tall front door, feeling warm gooey liquid coming down my legs.
My therapist had a compassionate look on his face that made me wonder if he was thinking about his own daughter. He proceeded to explain what actually happened to me; that was the first time I heard the term “gang-rape.”
From a young age, I’d been exposed to a very sexually charged environment. Powerful, privileged, frustrated men getting what they wanted. Older guys misdirecting their sexual energy, and younger girls knowing how to manipulate that. I played my part in this sordid vaudeville; nothing new in the history of men. Or women.
June 06- 1984 - 125 kilos***.
My mother hosted regular dinner parties for power couples - the kind that were married long enough to feel justified fucking other people. She only invited couples so as not to mess up the woman-man-woman-man rhythm at the table. Or she’d organize special ones for singles. Those were served buffet-style.
Mom documented those dinners in a leather-bound journal she kept with the silverware in the formal dining room. It listed who was there, what food was served, what gifts were brought, and what she wore.
Guests: Jacques+ Isabelle. Paul + Marie. Serge + Rose.
Meal: Foie Gras. Lamb with almond and dates. Potato puree. Brie and endives. Chocolate mousse.
Gifts: Flowers from J + I; Candle from P + M; Book from S + R.
Outfit: Navy skirt with flower shirt and yellow flats bought in Marbella.
There was even a column for memorable moments:
Jean met Anne and they hit it off.
Jacqueline had a fight with Chantal and the latter threw a pepper shaker at the former.
Pascale announced she was pregnant.
There was a social convention in France: you invited your friends to fancy, intimate dinners at your house. They invited you back. There was an art to it. You needed to rotate often enough, but not too often. You needed to impress with food, wine, cigars and conversation. You earned good marks if you scored a guest that’s a bit of a celebrity. You got to gossip about who was not there and had not hosted for a while.
Those gatherings were full of bragging or complaining about the kids. Usually, one of each in these two children's family units, as in ours. Proud of my brother, ashamed of me. No need for a journal entry about that.
On the days we hosted the dinners, the house would start rumbling around 2:00 PM. Food being cooked by chefs in the kitchen. Dining room table being expanded to accommodate more seating. Silverware being polished. Mother’s hair being blow dried. A production that was orchestrated to not look like one.
8:00 PM came around. Everything was in its place: lights on, perfume sprayed, father ready, mother pretty.
By now, I would have come home from school, run to the kitchen, dipped baguette into pots. Hung out with the kitchen preppers. I got Spanish fluency out of those dinners; no wonder my Spanish food vocabulary is abnormally fluent.
At 17, the year of my Baccalaureate, my heavy load of homework had to be done before I could join the formal affair.
One night, I’d checked the guest-log, didn’t particularly like the cast, and decided to stay in my room. Jean + Marie, Yves + Nicole and Eric +
Eric was a close friend of the family. His wife had paralyzing headaches and always canceled last minute. That disturbed the man-woman thing at the table, but he came anyway.
He may be the first grown man — besides my father — who looked at me the way you look at a woman, imagining what you’d do to her without clothes on. I had noticed his insistent gaze before. He’d never acted on it until that night.
The first time it happened, he entered my room like he belonged. I don’t remember him knocking. He came straight to my desk where I was studying, standing too close.
“What are you working on?” he asked.
He didn’t give me time to answer before saying, “Are you seeing anyone?”
I didn’t bother answering that, either, as he quickly added, “Already having sex?”
I liked his intensity — it made my brain drop a few inches below my belly button. I could taste danger in my mouth; the kind you swallow with a metallic gulp.
Eric was scary, and sexy. I guess more sexy than scary, because when he came closer, pivoted my face, and started kissing me, I didn’t scream. When he grabbed my hand and directed it to his penis, I didn’t scream. When he pushed my head down, I didn’t scream. When he moved away enough, so I could watch him masturbate and cum, I didn’t scream.
I’m not sure a sound would have come out of my transfixed face.
Eric left as abruptly as he’d entered. My heart was pounding, my thoughts swirling in chaos. When dad came in later to turn off the light, I pretended to be asleep.
From that day, I made a point to stay in my room when Eric appeared on the social calendar. I wanted him to visit. I would prepare for it, trying on outfits, poses on the bed, at the desk, on the floor. Hoping to nail the right vibe, as I knew he would only have a few stolen minutes.
I derived a sick pleasure, imagining Eric, trying to find the ideal moment to leave the table so that his friend — my father — wouldn’t question his abnormally long absence. Having rehearsed the perfect posture and outfit, I was ready to please him when he came in. These encounters brought me the closest I’ve ever been to being someone’s object. He did to me everything he’d fantasized about doing to his headachy wife. I let him do whatever he wanted, whether I wanted it or not. I wanted to be wanted. And that made me willing.
After every one of his visits, I would sit back at my desk, facing away from the door, pretending to read about the Russian Revolution or agricultural landscape in America. I would wait a few minutes, after I heard the sound the latch of my door made when he left. I would walk slowly into the party, saying I was finally done with my homework and asking what was for dessert. I liked mousse au chocolat, but I liked knowing something my parents didn’t, even more.
1997- 20 to present. 300- 160 pounds.
A few years ago, I was reading, cross-legged, on the floor of a Barnes and Noble, when someone accidentally pushed a book from the shelf behind me. It fell on my head and opened in front of me. Love Prescription, by Seth Meyers. ‘It’s not about fly fishing,’ I thought. ‘It must be a book I’m supposed to read’. Boy, was that true.
I was coming out of a series of inadequate relationships, following my second failed marriage. I read half of it on the spot and went home to consume the rest. Seth nailed my patterns to a scary T. My neediness, trying to fill some inner empty bowl; my habit of looking for guys who would hurt me, to constantly reaffirm that I didn’t deserve to be loved; my tendency to make my partner matter more than me. Black ink on white paper, there I was, spelled out.
I was determined to do a session with the guy, and I left him a message immediately.
“Sorry,” he called back to say. “The book has been so successful, my practice is completely full…wait, hold on, how uncanny…one of my regulars just emailed to cancel; would you like to come tomorrow at 10 am?”
I didn’t even check my schedule. I said yes. I was prepared to travel far, but I smiled when I found out he was only four blocks away from me; I believe in unicorns.
I painted the painful pieces of my life in broad strokes for him. By then, I’d recapped my story to enough therapists; I knew the relevant parts. He listened intently and said: “Can you imagine strolling with your baby daughter on Santa Monica Boulevard, meeting a complete stranger and saying to him, ‘Hey, take my little girl, I need a babysitter. I’ll come back for her tomorrow night.’”
“Would you ever do that?” he asked.
“Fuck, no,” I said, sniffling.
“Then, why do you do it with your heart?”
I don’t know, Seth, good question.
Before I handed my daughter to anyone, I would ask a hundred questions, request references, and watch them with other kids. But for my precious heart, not a single checkpoint. Not a one. Until that moment, it hadn’t dawned on me that it was my job to protect my heart. No one ever showed me how to do that.
I only saw Seth that one time, but this single interaction changed my outlook on love, sex, and intimacy forever. The amount of therapeutic work I’d done on myself may have helped that piece click into place. Sometimes healing needs time, sometimes it takes the introduction of a new concept, a new distinction, a better one, and true change happens.
Sitting there, I assessed anyone I’d ever had sex or moved in with; or married. It was sobering to admit: all of them had happened too quickly. I put more deliberate thought into buying a couch or a car, than I did in my love stories. Sometimes I got lucky, and my partners were kind, sometimes, not so much.
Becoming cognizant that I’d handed my most sacred parts to strangers on various boulevards was painful and transformative. Now, I do the research, ask, check and probe from date one. I meet the guy’s friends, watch how he interacts with waiters, his focus when he tells a story, his curiosity about me (or not), how resolved he seems with his exes. Fewer second dates; more laughing alone, dancing in the shower.
I prided myself for being a non-conforming sensual lover, but turned out I was a sex addict whose dangerous promiscuity almost killed her. For years, I ignored any kind of safety procedures: had an HIV scare, two abortions, and too many nights with men with no name. I looked down on puritans who needed time to ‘get to know each other.’ What a fool. I by-passed the discovery phase.
I wanted intimacy, closeness, and depth, right away, without putting in the work. I wanted to get directly to the part where I felt loved and relevant. And I liked having sex. Orgasms in particular: those few seconds that let me escape pretty much everything and experience a connection to something sacred. And I didn’t know how to get there any other way.
If I could go back and hold the little girl I was, I would promise — cross my heart and hope to die — to protect us from strangers on boulevards, and ask, that if I ever failed to do so, that she please hit me on the head with a book falling from a shelf.
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