Too Fat For Love: The Problems Plus-Size People Have With Sex & Dating

Emma Tamsin Hill is a body positive and fat fashion vlogger, with over 30k subscribers on YouTube and more than 15k followers on Instagram, where she speaks candidly about social justice issues. Her new BBC documentary, Too Fat For Love, explores the problems fat people in the UK have with sex, dating and love.

Where does the feeling that a person can be 'too fat for love' come from?

The film begins with Hill explaining she wants to understand where the feeling that a person can be "too fat for love" comes from. She visits Leeds Beckett University to meet Dr. Stuart Flint, an expert in fat stigmatisation and discrimination. Together, Flint, his students and Hill dissect the disparaging way fat is portrayed in society – by using words like "bulging" and "plague", by describing obesity as an "epidemic" accompanied with headless shots of plus-size bodies. When the fat bodies do have faces, they’re shown to be eating junk food. The group agrees, these kinds of microaggressions build up to create a societal stigma against fat people.
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'That’s the way they see us,' she explains through her tears; fat people are only ever seen as a joke.

In her home afterwards, Hill cooly explains how TV and movies represent the fat body during sex and dating as only negative, using Fat Monica in Friends and Fat Bastard in Austin Powers as examples. The next shot sees Hill crying over a Monty Python character, Mr Creosote, a fat man who eats at a restaurant until he literally explodes. "That’s the way they see us," she explains through her tears; fat people are only ever seen as a joke in the media.
The political and the personal are brought together in Too Fat For Love: Hill and many plus-size people (including myself) can explain why social hatred of fat bodies is wrong. When confronted with that hatred, from every angle, it’s no surprise that we occasionally crumble. Hill does a shoutout on her Instagram to see if her fellow fat followers ever feel negatively about their bodies, regardless of body positivity, and there is unanimous agreement – it’s hard to not feel hurt when you’re being constantly attacked.
Other media outlets have reported on the documentary mainly being about a group of fat women attending a class on how to have "obese sex". But the visit to London’s Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium, headed up by Athena Mae, is only a short portion of the film. It’s not even entirely about sex. She gets the group to admit their insecurities in front of each other before it gets sexual. Mae laughs through questions she’s asked, like "Can you even get on top?" while showing exactly how to do so.
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Photo: Courtesy Of BBC
To get the male perspective, Hill visits MANvFAT football club in Birmingham, where only men of a certain weight and above are allowed to participate in games. The group seem to think it’s easier to find love as a fat woman but agree that the rise of body positivity has led to fat male solidarity, and that they’re no longer embarrassed to discuss these issues with their mates because of it.
Hill also travels to a Sheffield-based life drawing class, where only fat models are allowed. Taking part as both an artist and a muse, Hill gushes over the drawings of her (almost) naked self: "It’s empowering to become art." The group explores the beauty in desexualised fat bodies and questions why society can’t find love in the fat form in the first place.
By actualising her online self-confidence into reality, the documentary teaches us so much more than the different ways fat people can find love and self-love. Finishing at Club Indulge, a plus-size club night that’s been running in London for five years, Hill is surrounded by women who love their bodies, wear what they want and celebrate themselves and each other. These women and the documentary provide a message of solidarity, that while we may have it ingrained in us that being fat is undesirable, it only becomes true if we believe it.
Too Fat For Love is available on the BBC Three website and on BBC iPlayer from Friday 4th May.
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