That fat women have things to say to other people about the relationships between their body types and their romantic lives barely seems to register on the larger cultural radar.Discussing the politics of desire takes major guts in our culture, especially as a fat person.

I explained to the on-call psychiatrist that a major source of emotional distress was how other people were treating me because of the size of my body. Cut out potatoes, rice, wheat, and corn from my diet.

Implicitly, he was confirming that the problem was me, not other people’s treatment of me. Holding other people accountable for how they treat fat people is still very taboo.

Talking the scene over with my fat lady friends, we all felt that it was unrealistic in that regard.

Mostly, when we have gotten up the courage to talk to men we’re romantically interested in about our fatness, we’re met with protests and denials of the “not men” variety.

For me, the brilliance of Vanessa’s words was that she didn’t position fat women as tragic figures needing pity or shame, nor did she boldly claim sexual empowerment in the name of fat women everywhere.

As a fat, white, middle-class woman like Vanessa, who sometimes dates men, I could relate.

At the same time, fat people, especially fat women, are supposed to pretend we don’t exist or that we’re not fat.

I can’t count the number of times thin people have made reference to fat people or fatness in a negative or joking way in front of me, from the petite woman sitting next to me at the coffee shop complaining about fat people on airplanes, to my friends who routinely make jokes about their “inner fat kids” coming out when they eat a lot, to the women in my family who compete to see who can look the thinnest in family photos.

“What is it about the basics of human happiness, feeling attractive, feeling loved, having guys chase after us, that’s just not in the cards for us? Listening to Vanessa, my heart leapt into my throat.

Vanessa was simply asking to have a dialogue with Louie and hold him accountable for his beliefs and his behaviors in relation to her fatness.

This ideology pits the rational and the irrational against each other along with other corresponding binaries: the masculine and the feminine, the public and the domestic, the mental and the emotional, the mind and the body, the head and the heart.