What Louis C.K. got wrong about fat girls

Last week this clip from comedian Louis C.K’s semi-autobiographical’s sitcom Louis about ‘fat girls’ was making the rounds on the internet:

I’m generally a fan of Louis C.K.’s brand of comedy. He’s funny in a self-deprecating, relatable and dry sort of way. His bit ‘Everything is amazing and nobody is happy’ is a personal favourite. Now, I’m all for generating dialogue on fat discrimination and for greater representation of fat women in the media, but I didn’t like the way he depicted fat girls in this episode. I think he got a number of things flat out wrong about us fat chicks:

“What is it about the basics of human happiness, feeling attractive, feeling loved, having guys chase after us, that’s just not in the cards for us?”

This is a bullshit statement. All these things – happiness, feeling sexy, beautiful and loved and having men pursue us – absolutely happen to us, and not in the exception to the norm kind of way, or only by dating ‘chubby chasers’ kind of way or by tricking someone into dating us with our wicked personalities (that make up for our ‘sad and socially unacceptable’ fat bodies) kind of way either. Fat women date, fall in love, marry and live happily every after all the time. Every single day. Routinely – just like all other women. I’ve dated a veritable mixed goody bag of men, some of whom chased after me and fell in love with me. Last summer I married a wonderful and handsome “normal” sized man who won me over with his warmth, intelligence and offbeat sense of humour. I feel loved, attractive and happy. My story is not an anomaly. I know plenty of other fabulous fat ladies with similar stories of their own.

“You know what the sad thing is? It’s all I want. I mean, I can get laid. Any woman who is willing can get laid. I don’t want that. I don’t even need a boyfriend or a husband. All I want is to hold hands with a nice guy, and walk and talk – “

This makes fat girls look pathetic, as if we’re willing to take whatever a balding, middle-aged divorcee will throw our way. Or any man for that matter. All we want is to hold hands and hang out with a guy who is willing to be seen with us in public? Wrong. So, so wrong. We want the same things all other women want when dating – great chemistry, fun dates, good sex, humour, intelligence, respect and if we’re lucky finding someone who could be a real life partner (if that’s what we’re after). We’re not fish food for the bottom feeders of the dating pool.

“It sucks to be a fat girl.”

You know what? Yeah, it can suck to be a fat girl. There are a lot of things that can make being a fat girl really difficult: being bullied, having less access to fashionable and economic clothing, having to repeat over and over again that yes you can, in fact, be healthy and fat. Oh and there’s also having to face everything else that comes from fat discrimination. Yet arguably the worst of it is that people go around believing and spreading falsehoods about us – that we’re desperate, that men don’t really want to date us, that we don’t get a chance at happiness and love. The tragedy is that so many fat girls and women internalize this propaganda. When I saw through the smokescreen of these lies I realised that being a fat girl doesn’t have to suck – at all. So what if my body happens to be bigger than other people’s? I’m not going to go around apologizing for my size, and I’m definitely not going to let other people’s perceptions of my body affect how I live my life. These days I am rarely conscious of being fat. I love my body and appreciate the way it allows me to go on long hikes with my puppy, ride a bike or do yoga. I am grateful that it sustains me and works to keep me healthy. I’m a fat girl, but it doesn’t suck. Most days it’s pretty awesome.

I do give Louis C.K. some credit – I think his intentions were good. He was throwing his views into a debate about dating, weight and the unfair struggles of fat chicks. He was trying to be on our side. All he managed to do though was to show how misguided and offensive most of these views are, which isn’t that surprising given that the scene was written by him. So really all this is, is a white, straight, middle-aged guy’s perception of what it’s like to be a fat girl. More than anything this scene from Louis shows us what many men unfortunately assume life is like for us. Even more unfortunately, perhaps, is their reluctance to give fat girls a chance. It would have been more bold and powerful for Louis to just go ahead and date the fat girl on the show, without making any mention of her weight at all. That is something we need to see more of on TV.