For Future Fat Femmes

From makeup to hair to fashion, since finishing high school I’ve gravitated towards all things femme. I obsessed over the empathy that femme people possessed, as well as with their innate sense for caring, loving, and nurturing. I remember growing up and always thinking to myself that those were the traits I wanted to convey… that no matter what, I’d be in touch with my feminine side.

It wasn’t until the age of 17 that I discovered I was non-binary. This was interesting because while it distanced me from masculinity, it also distanced me from my femininity. Originally, I identified as genderfluid (under the non-binary spectrum) for about three years, trying to maintain the switch between masc and femme. However, since I’ve started dressing more femme, I’ve found myself spending hundreds of dollars on makeup, and buying “women’s” clothing for the first time in my life. It’s the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in my skin, making me wonder why it took me so long to get to this point? Eventually, though, it became clear: I’ve actually always loved femininity, just not on my body.

When I first moved to the states from Liberia, my mother clung onto the health culture here for dear life. I have this memory of her telling me not to use any of my sisters’ body wash, and to stay far away from anything containing lavender. It would “make me grow tehteh,” meaning it would make me develop breasts (of course, now I’ve come to discover that studies at the time, later debunked, suggested lavender was estrogenic). My mother’s generation would often say things like this; things that brought down the power that femininity had to offer.

My mother would want my sisters to recognize their inner femme beings, but never relish in it. However, when it came to any other aspects of womanliness, my culture would demonize it if a cisgender woman wasn’t directly attached. The lavender memory never reigned significant in my young mind because I was gaining weight at the time, so I just assumed it was about my mom not wanting me to get fat. Sure enough, it was both. She’d say things like, “None of my brothers are fat!” followed with, “You’re meant to be tall and slim!” all coupled with, “Boy childs don’t have tehteh.” Once again, I let it all go believing it was simply part of the West African mother schtick—or their pièce de résistance, if you will.

Jumping into my freshman year of high school, after years of fluctuating weight, I had successfully grown visible breasts. My body was pretty thick overall, but my chest was noticeably prominent for some damn reason. It bothered me, however, I always felt fine in my body—never at home—but fine.

I remember sitting in class one time talking over a substitute teacher when someone cracked a joke about how I should wear a bra because my chest was so big. Like a switch, I started crying immediately in front of all of my peers. They began to apologize, saying:

“I was only kidding!”

“It was just a joke!” 

“They’re not even that big!”

Afterwards, I realized I didn’t know why I started crying or why I was upset, all I knew was that I would hide them at all costs. Even when I came out as genderfluid, I tried to hide them. Then it dawned on me: I resented my breasts on my “male” body, a body that I didn’t even want. 

For about a year now, I’ve started accepting my breasts along with all the femme changes happening in my life. I realized that the transphobia combined with the fatphobia in my early life kept me from living my truth for so long—and that is so scary. These two bigoted belief systems are prominent in almost everyone’s life from a young age, and they’re molding minds to believe such features are unwelcome in our bodies. There are misogynistic undertones behind them, too.

It is crucial that we all know that femininity is beautiful. Your back rolls are beautiful. Your cellulite is beautiful. Your stretch marks are beautiful. Fat is more than what people make of it for you… after all, it’s a part of you. You can’t let societal boundaries reign you in, it’s your truth you’re living at the end of the day. Femme is fierce. Femme is kind. Femme is diverse. Femme is love.

 

Taking Control

Save an Uber, Ride a Cowboy is a column exploring queer millennial sex culture. The stories presented here are based on true events. Identities have been changed to protect the privacy and reputation of those involved. 

 

Travis was a 17-year-old person living in Towson, Maryland doing what 17-year-old people in Maryland do best (well, at least the gay ones): scrolling through Grindr.

Of course, Travis had completely fell into the stigma of signing up for the app prematurely, but in a small town, all you really want to do is see who else around you is like you. That’s how it started, anyway, but then it spiraled into them feeling wanted by older men in the way people their age wouldn’t and seemingly couldn’t reciprocate.  

Soon Travis realized they were being fetishized and shamed for almost everything. Being the younger one in the relationships, it made their partners feel as though they could say whatever they wanted. Treating Travis like a child, these men would tell them how to live their life, wanting them to change for their dick or ass. Adorning them with nicknames such as “tigger” because of their stretch marks, “overgrown twink” because of their weight, and even “my Darkie” as if it wasn’t downright racist because they used it as a term of endearment. Travis hated these men; although, they didn’t know it at the time. They would laugh at their bigoted jokes and took their degrading comments without objection.

There were men like Tom, the smug type. Tom was 32 when Travis met him, but that only made him all the more enticing. He’s not that much older than me, Travis thought, maybe it won’t just be sex, maybe he can be my forever. No matter how MTV circa 2003 that sounded, that’s was what Travis truly wanted.

Tom had an athletic build that excited Travis, with biceps that bulged as thick as his head, but it was still obvious he enjoyed a few beers a day.

He’d pick Travis up in his truck, and the pair would drive with the windows down on summer nights, often past midnight (the only time Tom was willing to see them). The sex was average, to say the least. An average guy with an average dick and an average personality — only abnormal thing was the size of Tom’s ego. However, Travis put Tom on a pedestal and worshipped him because they didn’t want this average man, his car rides, and mediocre love to vanish with the night’s warm breeze.

Travis had been through the ringer with men like this before, both older and younger. However, Tom was the cherry on top of all the vain and inconsiderate cunts.

Everything Travis would do was questioned, their insecurities always on the table, and their skin pigment always a kink. “Oh, fuck yeah, you like my big white cock in your chocolate ass baby?” Tom would say. “I love seeing my red throbbing cock disappear into your black darkness,” or the reoccurring, “Do I have the biggest dick of any white guy you’ve been with?” Constantly telling Travis they were too fat, how their folds belonged to him, that nobody else would ever want them. So of course Travis stayed… because at least Tom wanted them, right?

That was before Jo came along. Jo was a beautiful, confident, intelligent, sexy person. Jo was the first person Travis had ever met that used they/them pronouns, and they just blew everything they thought they knew away.

It started off as just another hookup, however it was imminent how different this was going to be despite the age gap of only three years. After their first time being with each other, Travis just laid there looking at them with all the admiration in world: their rich toffee skin tone, the makeup they donned on their eyes, the slight stubble at their chin. Jo was beautiful and so sure of themselves. Jo introduced Travis to new things like their sense of style. Travis had always worn clothes that didn’t conform to gender roles, but now they wore them with pride. Jo was an unapologetic colored person, and they helped Travis feel beautiful about their own dark complexion, reaffirming who they were to not only to themselves, but the people around them. 


Something that Travis never forgot was the sex. Jo opened their mind to a world of sexuality that they had never experienced before. 

“Ever fucked someone?” Jo asked.

“No, I’m a total bottom.”

Jo looked at them with a screwed brow and softly chuckled, “You know, your dick is important too, beautiful.” That was the first time Travis topped and when they realized they deserved to feel liberated in the bedroom just as much as anywhere else.


With the discovery of all these new found traits in themself, Travis cut off all ties with the toxic men they were seeing. Travis would never let anyone make them feel wrong, impure, or like a stranger in their body as long as they lived. It gave them the confidence to move to New York and be the person they always wanted to be. It inspired them to advocate for anyone who is oppressed within the tight chains of society.

Along this journey, Travis realized the LGBTQIA+ community had a million problems. Cisgender white men still rule and still step on any and everybody else. Other than their gayness, these individuals benefit from all the societal standards and systematic privileges given to cisgender white men everywhere. That shit didn’t fly with Travis, because the queer community is so much more than a bunch of white cisgender twinks (who seem to be the spokesman for queers in every form of media). It’s trans people, bisexual people, people of color, trans people of color; it’s the colors of a rainbow for a reason. 

Just because gays have been granted the right to marry, people believe that everything is fine within the queer community — it’s not. As a community that claims to accept people for who they are, they need to start actually doing that. Travis has come to terms that queer people can be whatever they want, but until they start taking control of their community, the community isn’t going to start advocating for all its members’ rights.

And as for Jo, Travis could never thank them enough for what they did for them, their body, their mind, their spirit. They have learned that they can be a voice and force to be reckoned with in a world of unjust principles — now that Travis has gained control of their own body.