Bri Burning offers this: “The biggest challenge I’ve faced being a rope bottom is the doubt of tops—whether that be doubt in my body and what it can do, or insecurities in their own skills.” That last part brings up another part of the challenge: incorrect assumptions about the limitations and capabilities of larger bodies. “I’m a very curvy woman who is extremely flexible,” Bri continues. “[But] most people assume that I can’t stay in stress positions for long or can’t bend a certain way.”
Welcome one and all (who are knowingly entering into this adult-themed conversation)! This is Fat Sex Week XXL, the second edition of QueerFatFemme.com Fat Sex Week where I explore many facets of fat sex. Named for Magic Mike XXL, which was even better than the first Magic Mike, I’m hoping this edition is louder and fatter than ever before! Check this tag for all of the posts!
I love the Adipositivity Project! Photographer Substantia Jones has been tirelessly taking gorgeous art nudes of fat bodies for over a decade. As Jenna says below, seeing naked fat bodies helps normalize body diversity and is a gateway for fat acceptance.
Photo (of me!) by Substantia Jones. From the Adipositivity.com website: The Adipositivity Project aims to promote the acceptance of benign human size variation and encourage discussion of body politics, not by listing the merits of big people, or detailing examples of excellence (these things are easily seen all around us), but rather through a visual display of fat physicality. The sort that’s normally unseen.
I love this project and have so loved my collaborations with Substantia. I really value shooting with photographers multiple times over the course of years. It’s so fun to develop as artists and continue to check in.
When I shot with Substantia in LA last summer I did my first with my partner for the annual Valentines Day series. (You can dig around the Adipositivity website to find it!) A series intended to show that fat people are totally worthy of love, it always gets a lot of media attention. Substantia said that she suspects that most couples get busy after their shoot and it got me curious about the experience of a fat couple in the Valentines series.
Jenna and Sam were kind enough to answer my questions in honor of Fat Sex Week XXL!
What was the process behind your decision to pose for Adipositivity?
Sam: I had found Adipositivity before I met Jenna, and was already a fan. I got a bit starry eyed when Jenna mentioned she knew Substantia online. We joked for a bit that she should pose at some point, and the joking got a little more serious. I thought Jenna would make a great model, so I was all in favor. Then Substantia posted a call for couples, and we decided to jump in with both feet.
Jenna: Sexy pictures of other fat people set me on my body love journey. Among these pictures, I came across Adipositivity. Seeing Substantia’s work meant a lot to me, especially since her work included fat people just being. For me, being visible is part of my activism and of course someday dreamed for posing for Substantia. Then the day came when she was looking for couples for her VDay series. It was fairly soon and we made our schedule work so we could go to NYC and do it. Most of me couldn’t believe I was going to do it, but I knew it was something I had to do. Letting other people know that fat love, fat bodies are important and valued and beautiful. I did have a moment of “I won’t be able to be president if I’m naked on the internet”.
Jenna and Sam for Adipositivity! Photo by Substantia Jones.
How did you feel after the shoot? After the photos were released?
Sam: The shoot was honestly one of the most positive body-related experiences of my life. We had so much fun doing the shoot and hanging out with Substantia, that it was really just kind of a high for a couple days. The photos actually being online, though….that was both exciting and little anxiety inducing.
I don’t know if other communities talk about this, but for public speakers in the LGBTQ community we have a concept of “oversharing” – this feeling when you’ve talked about very personal things in front of strangers, and you’re left feeling kind of vulnerable and drained afterwards. For me, I had to learn my boundaries around this, and also to accept that this was cost of my activism. In a way, I felt the same way about our Adipositivity pictures. I felt a little overexposed and vulnerable, but I was aware that I was going to feel that way, and I was okay with it. I felt the change we were helping make in the world was worth the cost.
Primarily, though, it was thrilling. I was so excited to be an Adiposer, and to see which pictures were picked up for which sites. It was also really fun when someone who knew us would send us a link and ask “is that you??????”. We enjoyed the experience so much we did it again the following year!
Jenna: Substantia made us feel awesome. We read over her information she provided before the shoot and we kind of just paced around until she got there. Once she was there, it was really easy to get naked. I felt awesome after the shoot, never really knowing how I got to this place in my life where I was naked and proud. After the photos were released it was just so neat to see us through Substantia’s eyes. How she posed us, how we looked at each other and how my body looked. I saw the stretch marks and lumps and my hangy breasts but thought it looked great and I was so happy that I didn’t spend hours going over my imperfections. I was just really
content with all the photos and loved seeing our love translated into images.
This question is specifically for Sam. You included a rare model statement with your photo for this year’s Adipositivity Valentine’s Day series. Will you tell me more about how you feel at home in your body after taking T and how this has interacted with your feelings about your size?
Photo by Substantia Jones.
Sam: Being fat with a female body I think was particularly difficult for my dysphoria. A fat female body is especially soft and curvy – something I love in my partners, but it was the opposite of what I wanted my own body to be. Taking T helped a lot with that – I’m still soft, but I have firmer muscle underneath, and my fat has shifted on my body to a more male distribution. So, it was easier to not hate my body so much, when it looked at least somewhat closer to what was in my head.
Being fat has been both a blessing and a curse in terms of passing. I still have fat rolls, and those can still be perceived as a feminine shape. When I had breasts, they were large and difficult to conceal. I had (and still have) quite an ample ass. Those things combined really made it difficult to pass consistently, even after I’d been on T for quite a long time. However, being physically larger has always seemed to make people think I was stronger and tougher than I was really was, and definitely made it so I was challenged by transphobes less often than my slighter brothers.
When I think of myself in relation to body positivity, I definitely think of it in terms of both my physical transition, and my lifelong struggle with my size. My gender dysphoria was so much easier to deal with, honestly. Even though I transitioned quite a while ago (twenty years as of last month), there was a pretty clear path for how to change my body to match my mind. There were definitely difficulties, of course, but it was pretty easy to see how I could “fix” the problem. Learning to be comfortable in my fat body, in a fat phobic society, has been a much more difficult challenge. There is so much internalized crap around size that’s reinforced every day. The body positivity community provides some help here, but I find it so heavily tilted towards the feminine (with good reason, of course, women bear the brunt of our fat phobic soceity) that it’s not really as much of a support system as I could use. Online, at least, I find the most comfort in the gay bear community. There is something very powerful in seeing men who look much like myself being viewed as sexual objects of desire.
As what I would affectionately call a “Fat on Fat” couple, do you have any fat sex tips for my readers?
Jenna: I really like being naked as much as I can. That has really helped me feel comfortable in my body and Sam compliments and loves on me all the time about it. It’s nice to hear that and know he is so attracted to me.
Sam: I think it starts outside the bedroom. We both have baggage when it comes to our
bodies, so it’s not always easy to climb into bed and feel instantly sexy. Having Jenna make sexy comments about my body in passing does a lot towards making me feel like she actually likes my body, and makes me feel safer when the clothes come off.
I also think our queerness and openness around sex itself helps a LOT, as does our acceptance of ourselves as fat. We don’t have as many preconceived notions about what constitutes sex, and that makes us more willing to experiment with what works for us, and to be honest about what doesn’t work. Sometimes we have to change an angle, or move a fat roll out of the way, or whatever. We laugh if we feel silly, and then get back into it.
Photo by Substantia Jones.
How do you keep the spark alive in a committed relationship?
Jenna: I think accepting our sex life as it is has kept the spark alive. It may sound strange, but not worrying if we still love each other because we haven’t had sex in a month has really been affirming for me. We achieve intimacy in so many other ways that I feel really fulfilled in my life with Sam.
Sam: Like Jenna said, intimacy seems to be very important for us. We probably don’t have actual sex as often as other couples, to be honest, but we are always very intimate with each other. We’re always touching each other, kissing, holding hands. That seems to be very satisfying for both of us in a way that only sex achieved in past relationships. Not that we don’t enjoy a good sexy romp, but I don’t think we *need* it nearly as much, because we always feel connected.
Substantia works so hard to keep this self-funded project going! Consider buying prints for your home (both helping to normalize body diversity and supporting fat art)!