Body Liberation, Anti-Fatness and Sex Ed

How to Create Size Inclusive Sex Ed

Those of us living in larger bodies know that many parts of our society are not created to include us. Sexuality education has historically been one of those spaces. There are a myriad of issues related to how sexuality education is taught in the United States. It is potentially dangerous to our students when we exclude people living in fat bodies in our sexual health education.  Our work at Mad Hatter Wellness is centered around disability advocacy and rights. We want to create a world in which all people, regardless of disability status, receive instruction on healthy relationships, boundaries, consent, private vs. public behaviors, sexual orientation, gender and safety. We also want to create a world that provides accurate and supportive sexuality education to people living in fat bodies. I have worked as a sex educator in some capacity for the last decade, primarily with young people in special education and adults in disabiltiy services. What I have learned over the past decade is that larger-bodied people, and especially larger-bodied people with disabilities, are often left out of sexuality education or given incorrect information about their bodies. 

Here are some examples of false narratives or inaccurate information that we learn about fat-bodied people and sex.

  1. Birth control works the same for all sizes of bodies. 

False. The morning after pill is only effective for bodies weighing under 175lbs. Some birth control pills are more effective for larger bodies such as the mini pill. Talk to a doctor that you trust to help you make decisions about birth control options.

  1. Fat-bodied people have less sex. 

False. People of all sizes have sex.

  1.  Weight is an indicator of sexual health.

False. In most cases weight is not an indicator of health, unless there is a rapid change in weight.

  1. Fat-bodied people have a harder time getting pregnant.

False. There are many factors of why someone may struggle with infertility. Many fat-bodied people get pregnant and produce healthy babies. 

  1. The BMI is an indicator of health and wellness.

False. The BMI was created by an insurance adjuster to justify charging larger-bodied black women a higher premium for life insurance. The history of the BMI is racist, sexist and not medically sound information.

As a society it is past time to collectively heal our ideas around anti-fatness. Here are some ways we can do that.

  1. Celebrate and love fat bodies. Fat bodies are sexy. Fat bodies are healthy. 
  2. Recognize that no one owes you their health. Some fat bodies are unhealthy. Some smaller bodies are unhealthy. We don’t have to know someone’s health history to support them.
  3. Realize that fat-bodied people have sex. Fat-bodied people with disabilities have sex. 
  4. Ensure that fat-bodied people have medically accurate comprehensive sexuality education.
  5. Stand up for the fat people in your life. All the fat people, the fat queer people, the fat disabled people, the really fat people. Anytime you hear something anti-fat, say something.
  6. Reflect on your own internalized anti-fatness. If you feel uncomfortable talking about fat people or using the word fat, think about why that is.
  7. Look for accessibility in spaces. Is there enough space for fat bodies to move around? Are the seating options accessible to people of all sizes? 
  8. Share examples of fat people being joyful, successful and sexy in your own life.

Fat people are dope. Fat people are sexy. Fat people deserve love. Fat people with disabilities deserve care that meets their needs. Fat people deserve sexuality education that embraces and supports them. Fat people deserve safety.