I talk a lot about lingerie, perfume, makeup etc. as ways for fat girls to feel sexy/enhance sensual feelings. These are all fine and good ways to do so—but what if your particular groove doesn’t mesh with the more “femme” style of sexiness? Not every fat girl feels hot in skimpy nightclothes or red lipstick, and that’s not necessarily because they don’t feel good about how they look. Some fat women might find the pinnacle of sexiness in wearing boxers and a tank top. In a culture in which gender conformity is expected of not just fat women but all women, how does society treat fat girls who don’t conform to gender stereotypes or engage in traditionally feminine behaviors?

Social norms tend to demand that fat women be hyperfeminine to be considered attractive. We’re supposed to wear clothes that are form-fitting to show off our “curves”, make sure we pay attention to hair and makeup and wear something frilly underneath it all to enhance our femininity—all to offset the fact that we’re fat. That’s not to say that fat girls who love makeup and clothes, etc. are slaves to gender conformity, just that we tend to have it somewhat easier based on our personal preferences. Fat women aren’t often considered attractive in yoga pants and a loose-fitting shirt; they’re more likely to be desexualized and labeled “manly.” Not “androgynous” or “tomboyish,” which are terms of endearment usually reserved for those thin women who have “boyish” figures and short hair, and are not necessarily indicative of the woman being viewed as unattractive. The truth is, if you’re a fat girl and you’re not dolled up, you can be virtually invisible. Your sexuality is erased so potential partners often ignore you, which basically means they see past you. Yes, there are men and women who find less feminine fat women incredibly hot, but unfortunately a large part of society is still conditioned to see less feminine fat women as a “mother figures,” or “good friends,” or “dowdy,” or any number of less-than-sexually-appealing terms/phrases.

The good news for less femme fat women out there is, you (hopefully) know you’re hot. The fat/size acceptance movement is trying to change how society portrays attractiveness, so hopefully one day the whole world will know you’re hot. Knowing you’re hot means you’re confident, which, as I always say, is the most important component to sexiness. Those people who would ignore you or desexualize you or simply not appreciate how awesome you are aren’t really the kind of people you want to be with anyway because clearly they’re not interested in fighting societal beauty standards. And you have your own standards because you’re not putting up with someone who doesn’t find you attractive as you are, and you’re not interested in trying to fit the mold of what someone else says a fat girl should be.

I’m not trying to put down more femme fat girls to lift up less femme fat girls. We’re all in this together, and it takes courage to go out there and do your thing no matter if you’re wearing a tight strapless dress and heels or some purple Adidas, a pair of slacks and a button-down. But I feel it’s important that we acknowledge that not every fat girl is “femme,” and recognize the particular problems a less feminine fat girl faces in this rigidly gender-divided society.