What are the benefits of being fat?

Living corpulent has some pretty obvious downsides. Fat children are bullied. Fat adults pay more for seats on airplanes. Health care professionals have weight bias. We’re sized out of fashionable and practical clothing. Mainstream media falls over itself (yes, I do consider mainstream media to be a monolithic entity from time to time) trying to tell us all the varied and interesting ways we will clog up the health system/die early. Advocating fat acceptance opens oneself up to a never-ending parade of stupid. It’s enough to get a chubster down from time to time.

But what rocks about being fat? This body shape that impacts our lives in so many ways can’t be all bad, so what are the advantages?

The coolest academic on the block, Dr Samantha Thomas, asked exactly this on twitter. She’s a fat acceptance ally and works in the field of fat studies, but found herself completely stumped when she considered it herself. So she asked her followers, ‘What are the benefits of being fat?’

I managed to think of a whole bunch:

  • Fat is really fun to play with. I absent-mindedly grab, squish and jiggle my belly all the time (to the embarrassment of my long-suffering mother). Other people, who have less fat than me, are also intrigued by the soft bits of my body and are very pleased when I let them jiggle an arm or poke me in the belly.
  • In my opinion and contrary to popular belief, many items of clothing look better with curves stretching them out.
  • Big hips make Latin dancing easier. Even when I do a smaller hip shake in my samba class, I look like I’m doing more than my skinny peers.
  • The extra cushioning means that fat people are excellent huggers and spooning partners.
  • All those studies that show we’re less likely to die from chronic illnesses, infections, invasive procedures etc (as outlined so helpfully in Junkfood Science’s posts on obesity).
  • We make excellent life drawing subjects. As the Boyfriend – who is quite an impressive artist, though he will refute it when he reads this - says, “Nothing is more boring to draw than a perfect body.”
  • We can turn on the sex. All the tight clothing and fleshy parts can be very indecent when we want them to be. (Or, as Jackie of Fatuosity so eloquently put it, “Hips. Boobs. *drool*”)

My fellow twitterers (tweeters? twits?) also delivered some pearlers:

  • Kim from news with nipples – “The extra layers of fat provide warmth in winter, so you don’t need to run the heater. Win for you, win for the environment.”
  • Elizabeth from Spilt Milk came up with a few – “Protective of internal organs (like how women gain weight in pregnancy for cushioning)”, “More adipose tissue in face can make you look younger” and “My cat & my child both like sitting on me cause I’m soft!”
  • Nick from Axis of Fat said “Studies have shown that as you get older, additional fat stores can prolong life.”
  • madamQ – “higher weight correlates w stronger bones” and “it’s a good arsehole filter! Why would I want to be friends with the kind of person who doesn’t like me the way I am?”
  • HipOh_Potamus came up with one of my favourites – “more body to tattoo”

This exercise is not about ‘promoting obesity’ (which, by the way, is my favourite piece of anti-FA rhetoric) or replacing one beauty ideal with another. This is about recognising that some experiences are unique to the fat body and that these experiences can be really awesome. It’s a topic not often covered and I think it’s worth owning what is enjoyable about our fatness.

Sock it to me, commenters. What are the benefits of being fat?

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54 Responses to “What are the benefits of being fat?”


  1. 1 Ashley 14 July, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Not only do you take up more physical space, you take up more metaphorical space.

    When I was thin, I felt I was always pushed around or overlooked or ignored because I was a “cute little girl.” Yes, at 20, one could describe me as that. As a fat woman now, this is no longer true. People pay attention to me, what I say has weight to it. It was a really wonderful feeling to realize that I “matter” now that I’m fat.

  2. 2 lifeonfats 14 July, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    My fat has saved me a few times from breaking bones and getting nasty injuries when I’ve fallen.

  3. 3 Godless Heathen 14 July, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Fat is fun to play with, I like to slap my own thighs and watch the ripple. And yeah, even the most demure dress ends up with a lot of vavoom once it gets over the curves.

    Mine is, you find out who is actually interested in you as a person. Sure rejection hurts, but so does hanging out with shallow people. Life’s too short for that noise!

  4. 4 Bethamint 14 July, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    I was in a pretty scary car crash a couple of years back where our car rolled off the road and into a pretty steep ditch. It was my side of the car that impacted with the ground so everyone was kinda shocked that all I had was a few cuts and bruises, but the paramedics basically told me that if I’d been skinny I’d have been a lot worse off. In other words, fat is really good padding if your car rolls into a ditch!

    I definitely agree with all the other points, especially the latin dancing!

  5. 5 Kelly 14 July, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    My kids love my softness and are always stroking and loving my body. I figure by being fat and beautiful to them they can see other larger women as beautiful too.

    Great post!

  6. 6 Meowser 14 July, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    It’s squ-eezable!

    And Godless Heathen…yeah, no kidding.

  7. 7 Neely OHara 14 July, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    I feel like at my weight, I would be difficult to abduct off the street. Probably not something to worry about on a daily basis, but it’s a good feeling of solidity.

    I also feel like I have lots of reserves in case of sickness – like if I were to be hit with some kind of wasting disease, I could weather it well.

  8. 8 Samantha 14 July, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    My arse doesn’t get sore when bike riding coz I have my own inbuilt cushioned seat. WHEEEEE!

    • 9 librarychair 15 July, 2010 at 2:06 am

      I was just about to say the same thing! If I didn’t have as much ass as I do, I probably would have gotten a MUCH NEEDED seat cushion for my bicycle already. The thing has springs, and when I sit on it for more than a few minutes you can see the round tops of the springs through the top of the seat! And yet my ass is intact. Yay fat!

  9. 10 sleepydumpling 14 July, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I once had someone “compliment” me by saying “You’re so lucky, fat people don’t get wrinkles!”

    I guess she was right – we flesh ‘em out!

  10. 11 Veronica 14 July, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    I very much enjoy the political act of being Fat and Visible, would hate to lose that!

  11. 12 meerkat 14 July, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    More cats can lie on you at once.

    • 13 Frances 15 July, 2010 at 10:28 am

      As someone with a terrible cat allergy, this is a severe disadvantage for me. Replace ‘cats’ with ‘mini pigs’ and you’ve got yourself a deal.

  12. 14 Luxe 15 July, 2010 at 12:31 am

    As a skinny chick I am jealous of how you guys can fill out tops and look super sexy when bellydancing. ^^

    Also no joke, I know this is really random, but I heard of a guy who got shot and his layers of fat saved his life. *nods*

  13. 15 wriggles 15 July, 2010 at 12:37 am

    My favourite is you get an opportunity not to just be one of them, the ultra normal-I’ve never understood this current fashion for fighting for the word “normal” (when did that start?). If they haven’t quite thrown you out, you’ve been sidelined so you have perspective on the super normal, if you want it.

    Ditto other marginalized/interesting groups, a lot more of what they say is likely to make a lot more sense.

    You get the opportunity to find out how the authorities operate-without doing a degree! You’re seeing it unfold before your eyes.

    Because it’s such a huge effort to free yourself from the ubiquity of fat hatred, you can use that impetus to rid yourself of other redundant strains of authority you carry around with you.

  14. 16 Eve 15 July, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Not spending all my money buying clothes every time I walk buy a clothing store. Seriously, this is a plus – if I were thin I’d be broke from all the clothes buying. It’s bad enough as it is.

    One of my favorite things about being fat is that my boyfriend thinks I’m hot.

    My fat gives me gigundo boobs, which can be a pain, but are certainly handy to have when I want them.

    I’m quite happy to have very low risk for osteoporosis when I get older.

  15. 17 Jessica 15 July, 2010 at 3:26 am

    I agree wholeheartedly with the women saying its a political presence…to take up more space, to go against what we’re told is good and to live without shame! I ADORE touching my body and feeling its fleshy, soft pudge :)

  16. 18 Sloth 15 July, 2010 at 3:47 am

    This blog, and especially this post, is a much needed breath of fresh air. Thank you!

  17. 19 Susan 15 July, 2010 at 5:01 am

    When sitting, I can use the space between my belly and thigh like an extra hand. Items I tuck there stay put; I just have to remove them before I stand up!
    Susan

  18. 21 manda 15 July, 2010 at 11:09 am

    being fat, i feel strong and sturdy; i act as an anchor for littler friends at gigs and in crowded clubs and suchlike to cling to xD

    • 22 Imran 22 March, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      I know what you mean, I had an ex who was 350+ lbs at 5 ft 5. I used to work out and she doesn’t i was 160 lbs of solid muscle at 5 ft 7. She was stronger than me when we play wrestled.

  19. 23 Kimberpotamus 15 July, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    One of the great things about being fat is that we look great in tights/leggings. I know so many people say otherwise but it’s not true. I love seeing full thighs touching together while wearing tights and actually filling them out.

  20. 25 kathryn 15 July, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I love you for your first point… I thought only my family did that. I guess you can’t really go up to ppl and ask “hey do you play with your fat?” It sounds kind of obscene.

    Also, people are less like to sit next to you on public transport. Some people complain about that, but I love it.

    • 26 Frances 16 July, 2010 at 11:46 am

      Ohhhh that public transport idea is a good one. I’m with you, I’m always happy for the extra leg room.

      (Incidentally, that’s also a benefit to being asthmatic. I cough, people assume I’m contagious and I get a two person train seat all to myself. Delightful.)

  21. 27 Tina 16 July, 2010 at 1:50 am

    Frances,
    what you said about hip shakes and samba is also true for flamenco. Also, in dance class, when I watch myself in the mirror, I sometimes feel that my size makes me look strong and confident. My former teacher, Andrés Marín, a really skinny guy with a very modern dance style, admires his current partner, the more traditional dancer Concha Vargas, for being “round and soft, a true Gypsy”.

    As I am told by my (South American) boyfriend, many Latin men love curvaceous women, so I do not complain about my hips anymore ;-)

  22. 28 Maru 16 July, 2010 at 8:23 am

    I get lots of money back from my landlord every year because I never use up the advance on heating costs. It’s calculated for skinny folks who get cold very easily because they lack natural insulation.

    • 29 Cyn 16 July, 2010 at 5:10 pm

      This is so true with me too. In winter, I see many of my skinny friends all shakey and bothered; while I just wear one or two layers of clothing.

      Oh, and it’s awesome going out clubbing on a short short dress at a little below zero degrees C.

  23. 30 Cyn 16 July, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Babies LOVE me. And even toddlers and kids who haven’t been too brainwashed yet. They just love cuddling me and playing with me. I don’t know, it means safety to them.

    Many skinny friends love my body and find it fascinating. They love cuddling me. So does my very skinny boyfriend. He also adores the sex, and loves kissing and grabbing all that flesh and flub.

    When I used to be insecure about myself and took belly dance lessons, my very skinny teachers would talk about the days they had a REALLY good teacher somewhere in Egypt. She was very fat (death fatty, definitely) and graceful, and would always pressure the ladies to gain some weight by eating more and more. The girls knew that no matter how much they ate, they never gained weight because it was their natural state. (sounds slightly familiar?) So yes, fat is really better (even required) at traditional, pure dancing. None of that “dance your ass off” gym bollocks.

  24. 31 Not that fat YET 19 July, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Never having to agonize, “do I look fat in this?” Because once you are a certain size, NOTHING makes you look skinny, so you can move on to other, more interesting, sartorial judgments.

    And fat people have a certain ageless quality– I’m pushing thirty now, and while it’s not nice to make comparisons, a lot of my skinny girlfriends look suddenly downright middle-aged.

    Me? I just look like a slightly rounder version of my 19-year-old self. ;)

  25. 32 Susan 20 July, 2010 at 12:34 am

    “Never having to agonize, “do I look fat in this?” Because once you are a certain size, NOTHING makes you look skinny, so you can move on to other, more interesting, sartorial judgments.”
    I am just beginning to embrace this fact and it is very freeing. As a teenager I wore outrageous clothes, I am starting to realize that I can freely do so again. Of course, now I worry about dressing too young for my age. Just another socialized hurdle for me to get over.

  26. 33 Godlessgal 24 July, 2010 at 4:40 am

    My favourite one is the “filter”. When I was a teenager I wished I had more guys interested in me. After a while as I grew older I realized that the ones that were not interested in me were the ones who would just care about a woman’s body and face as an instrument for satisfaction, and would never be interested in going beyond and considering other type of values. Being fat has kept the shallow ones away and has attracted the right people.

    • 34 shay 25 July, 2010 at 3:55 pm

      I agree with you. When I was younger, I never thought that I would get a boyfriend because I was fat. Once I matured, I realized that it was MY fault.. I never put myself out there because I never thought that a guy could see me that way. Ah, wasted youth.. coulda been sluttin’ it up! lol

  27. 35 O.C. 28 July, 2010 at 1:22 am

    Being fat makes me STRONG, especially my legs. I lift weights, and when I’ve gone back into the gym after a period away, I’m always struck by how, right off the street, I’m stronger than most of the thin women in there. Every day of walking and carrying around a larger body is itself a strength training workout.

    I really wish someone would do a research study to measure this, because I really think it’s a health benefit, with a bigger body leading to more muscle mass and stronger bones.

  28. 36 Brandi 2 August, 2010 at 11:51 am

    As a bigger girl, as well as a tall one, I feel I get noticed a lot. The girl next to me may be prettier or wearing better clothes (fat chance) but I’m the one your eye falls on first. ;)

    • 37 cutyangelpixy 7 April, 2014 at 3:18 am

      So true.Im a 16 year old girl and im like 5 feet 8in and im fat but you are right I always get noticed but the bad thing in this is that my teachers always ask me question eventhough im usually at the end :( but other than I really liked this post.It gave me a sudden boost because I was just feeling down because of my weight… and im surely gonna try dancing just for the heck of it.

  29. 38 Brandi 2 August, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Another one. Our laughs are incomparable. Thick, warm and genuine.
    Also, I feel I’m much more resilient than my thinner friends. I can’t take it man. For real.

  30. 39 fatbodied 2 August, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I love how easy it is to float in the pool (and ocean, etc.)

    • 40 Frances 6 August, 2010 at 12:02 pm

      As an add-on, I love how I stay warmer when I’m swimming. When the water temperature is a bit chilly, I always last longer than my (much leaner) boyfriend.

  31. 41 Donna 5 August, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Being fat definitely has some disadvantages. However, the advantages seem more appealing to me. As some commented here, if you’re fat and big, you get noticed by others a lot. And another thing that i LOVE…being fat keeps you warm. I hate it when I got into the pool and after 10 minutes I was freezing to death. Now it’s much better!

  32. 42 Paperclippe 11 August, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    What a wonderful post. I love my fat. I do a lot of yoga and I like being able to move it around during certain poses; it makes them easier and more comfortable to move in and out of like having natural padding instead of having my bones grind against one another.

    I do have to disagree with the ‘fat keeps you warm’ point though. Even at my very heaviest, I was -and still am- the coldest person in the room. If it’s 90 degrees I need a blanket to take a nap. Go figure!

    Ah, but it is true. The menfolk love the chub. The ones worth keeping around, at any rate. :3

  33. 43 HipOh_Potamus 15 August, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Ah! You posted my tattoo comment! I’m still learning to embrace myself completely, but seeing all these wonderful examples helps me realize there are endless things to love :)

  34. 44 Lauren 17 August, 2010 at 10:29 am

    I’ve found that not only does playing with my fat feel good to me — it feels good when OTHER people do it (well, when my guy does it anyway). It feels like a massage! I’ll be sitting on the bed with my guy and he’ll poke it/grab it, whatever. It used to make me self-conscious, like he was non-verbally hinting for me to lose weight. But then it felt good, so I stopped feeling that way.

    Also, a lot of girls are jealous of my big jugs. I’ve always been overweight, and I remember the skinny girls in my gym class used to always be like, “Man I wish I had your boobs!!” Always a confidence booster. ;)

  35. 45 Emma @ Down to Girth 4 November, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I’m a human pillow!! I get lots of people want to hug me, and im always up for a good snuggling!!

  36. 47 Lizzie Brewster 22 March, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Well reading this post has been really great for my self esteem! Us chubbies could run the world!
    I’m a 17 year old fat girl who is trying to lose weight but I guess maybe i’ll keep a little bit of chub on me, just for the reasons mentioned above!!!

    My boyfriend loves spooning me and says i’m like a warm squishy pillow and being fat = BIG BOOBS!!! which guys luuurrvveee ;)

  37. 48 Helena Handbasket 9 January, 2013 at 4:02 am

    I needed to read this SO much. I’m saving this post for bad days. :)

  38. 49 Jodi 29 November, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    I love this! I came across it after reading several articles about the new average dress size of women being a UK 16. The comments were all so negative towards fat, and anything positive was immediately ridiculed! It really got me down, but this article is so inspiring and full of love!

    One of the things I love most about my fat is that I feel like I have some substance. I’m not gonna blow away and when my sister punches me on the arm it doesn’t hurt!

    Also, because you have to try on everything you like the look of in a clothes shop to make sure it fits, it’s an excuse to spend hours shopping :P

  39. 50 sally is fat 9 December, 2013 at 8:47 am

    from all the coments above i finally feel good about my fat

  40. 51 Taj 13 March, 2014 at 9:04 am

    This was absolutely awesome to read. The bottomline is to love yourself no matter what. Dont worry about who doesnt want you, LOVE THE ONES THAT DO LOVE YOU! I used to be borderline between thick and fat in my younger years. Lets just say I have exceeded the thick limit a looong time ago. I think there is a difference between people that have been fat their whole life verses those that suddenly find theirselves there. Personally, I learned to accept that I stand out no matter where I go because I am fat, curvy and my style is undeniable. I use to want to just hide and fit in, but as I got older, I started to cultivate and appreciate my individuality. Oh and sex is absolutely awesome! Men are so impressed if you are comfortable, flexible and creative in bed. Your bigger body provides more than enough cushion for whatever a man wants to try. I am proud to say I am quite confident being fat overall.

  41. 52 Fat Gamer 97 7 June, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Being overweight actually saved my internal organs in a car crahs bak in 2009. I have recently come to love being fat. It’s so SOFT and SQUISHY. And FUN. Sure, I face criticism but who cares what others say? I LIKE IT. It is MY choice.


  1. 1 Global Feminist Link Love: July 19-25 « Gender Across Borders Trackback on 27 July, 2010 at 5:03 am
  2. 2 Full fat milk « Spilt Milk Trackback on 9 August, 2010 at 11:27 pm

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