How I Learned To Let A Man Love My Fat Body

I love my fat belly, and so does my boyfriend.

photo of author Rebecca Jane Stokes

I have to work very hard to feel comfortable and confident in my own body.

It's become easier now that "comfortable" is the aim and not "perpetually ecstatic and reveling in my excellence." 

The way I see it, the war I'm fighting against my body was never going to end in a triumphant victory for the underdog.

But it could end in a cease-fire if I kept playing my cards right.

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Lately, I've been managing to do just that. 

But that doesn't mean it's always easy, and that doesn't mean I always succeed. 

I've got a fat stomach. Not a cute little pot belly, not baby fat, but a big fat stomach.

I am not saying this so that you tell me my stomach isn't fat.

It is. 

I'm not saying this because I'm fishing for praise.

I like praise (who doesn't?), but I'm good. 

I'm saying it because it's a fact.

I have a fat stomach, and I hate it.

And, as a person who advocates for beauty and health of every size, I hate myself for hating it. 

Yeah, it's an oxymoron and a half. 

Part of what has helped me grow a little bit of self-esteem and a modicum of confidence is challenging myself to be in situations where I feel uncomfortable. 


Standing on stage and doing a reading of something new I'm working on, or hosting an advice show are two such examples. 

I do these things even though I am terrified of how I will be seen. 

Especially online.

When you're onstage, it's unlikely that people will yell things about how fat you are. Even though you're always thinking about it and wondering.

But I can't say the same for Facebook.

During a recent show, I was talking about role-playing.

One troll chimed in with, "By role-playing do you mean when someone plays with your rolls?"

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I was stunned and hurt. 

But I rallied and moved past it. 


I even made a pretty funny joke at the troll's expense, if I do say so myself.

Talking about it that night with my boyfriend, I said to him that the reason I was so taken aback is because I was so happy and confident to be doing what I was doing, talking to people and engaging, that I forgot what I looked like until that one person saw fit to pop my bubble. 

My boyfriend just nodded and listened, he is very good at that. 

When we went to bed, my big spoon to his little spoon, he weighed in on the issue without saying a word. 

Wrapping his arms around me he moved his hands down to my belly and gently stroked my stomach.

I expected my entire body to tighten up, to freak out, to panic. 


But it didn't happen.

Instead, I felt relaxed and soothed, focusing on how good his hands felt, and how nice it felt to be this close to someone I love. 

I was exposing my actual soft underbelly to him, and he was treating it like he treats the rest of me:

With love and respect.

"I love that you're letting me do this," he said. 

And I didn't even have words. 

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It got me thinking about my reaction to the troll earlier in the evening.

Maybe I was wrong in describing what he'd done as "bringing me back to reality." 

Maybe this, here and now, was the real reality. 

I have a fat belly, and I have a happy life.


I have a fat belly, and I am not afraid to connect with strangers or to make myself vulnerable to the people I love

I have a fat belly, and it's not all I think about all of the time.

That, I think, is the real reality.


The cruel comment of the troll wasn't telling me how the world feels about me and how I should feel about myself. 

It was simply cruel. End of story. 

Lying in my bed, my boyfriend's hand on my stomach, I felt my whole world kaleidoscope in upon itself.

For the first time in my adult life, I realized, fully and deeply and in every part of my body mind, and soul, that my being fat has never been a problem or a bad thing.

It's the people who belittle, mock, and judge that are bad.

I'm not just "fine" the way that I am, I am spectacular and singular and so are you. 

I hope that every single person who has ever looked at their own body and felt disgusted is given a moment like the one I was given last night, why my boyfriend?


A moment where they realize that they are not an interloper in the world.

They have value and worth and the world is better for having them in it. 

Big bellies for the win. 

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is an editor, freelance writer, former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango, and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek. Her bylines have appeared in Fatherly, Gizmodo, Yahoo Life, Jezebel, Apartment Therapy, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, SheKnows, and many others.