Being a Chubby Chaser

Dr. Olson, 

Would you please write a book about chubby chasers from a psychiatrist’s perspective, including what our sexuality is like and its likely origins? Psychiatrists don’t consider us to be normal. We are miscategorized as having a fat fetish.

My first awareness of my fascination with fat people was when my brother showed me his copy of The Guinness Book of World Records and said jokingly, “It has the world’s heaviest people in it.” He isn’t attracted to fat men, but I am. It couldn’t have been the book that caused my attraction, neither was I abused into it as the fatphobes believe.

Throughout childhood, I dreamed about those fat people in that book. Something was pleasant about their body size. After I discovered masturbation when I was thirteen years old, I became aware that my feelings toward fat men were sexual.

I didn’t learn the term chubby chaser until I had access to the internet at eighteen years old.



Dear Ben,

Thanks so much for your note. At my age, I’m not sure I have it in me to write another book, but not much is written about the attraction some have to fat people. What I hear in your message is anger that others judge you harshly for your attraction.

Society has a prejudice against fat people. As I wrote in my book No More Neckties, fat people are stereotyped as lazy, unmotivated, inadequate, and undisciplined. Growing up in a culture that believes this, we all incorporate those stereotypes.

This prejudice leads to discrimination in employment, healthcare, and education. Unfortunately, mental healthcare professionals are no exception. And because society at large judges big people for their size, it doesn’t accept that you don’t feel the same way.

As I wrote in ”You Don’t Need to Tell Me I’m Fat” for Psychology Today, body-shaming is real and extends to fat people and those who find them desirable. Attraction is a personal feeling and is likely innate and unchangeable. Cultural change and stigma reduction occur only slowly, but we can’t change culture through humiliation and insults.

Thin privilege won’t end until fat people can move through life without being profiled and assigned personality characteristics that may be true for some but are not valid for all. I don’t think this will happen soon.

Some parallels exist in terms of other topics I’ve written about, such as age-gap relationships. Society cannot understand why some are sexually attracted to others who are much older and often built like me, an endomorph with a bit of a belly. As one younger man said, “I like men with rounded corners.” This metaphor is beautiful for qualities such as softness, wisdom, experience, and lovemaking in slow time.

I am convinced that for some people, an older man with a belly is an essential element of their sexual attraction. One man said, “Any guy my age might as well have a vagina. I have no interest in them.” You experience your attraction to large men in the same way. You likely believe a thin or average-weight man might as well have a vagina; he holds no appeal.

Fetishes are used to enhance a sexual experience, but they are not essential to sexual desire. If your attraction to large men is essential, it is not a fetish.

Historically, large men and women were seen as more attractive by society. The artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), is famous for portraying ample, robust, and opulent figures in his paintings. The term Rubenesque has come to describe the pleasing and attractive depiction of plump and rounded figures.

In addition to our stereotypes today, we consider obesity a major health risk. If we consider obese people to run the risk of a shorter lifespan, we might ask, “Why would natural selection preserve this form of sexual desire?” One might assume that natural selection would select against fat people.

But historically, being large was associated with affluence, and affluence carries certain privileges. Less economically secure people have different health disadvantages. One might also speculate that large people had some “reserves” in the case of famine. Natural selection might favor large people for these two reasons.

One last question: How do you feel about the term chubby chaser? To me, it seems to devalue the object of your attraction, but the phrase is so embedded in the lexicon of sexual attraction that it will likely persist.

Wouldn’t it be better to say, “I prefer those with Rubenesque bodies”? No one has any answers about what controls our sexual attractions. Your attraction is probably nothing more than what you wrote: something is pleasant about another person’s large body size. This is just who you are, and you don’t need to apologize or defend it.

Thanks for your note. I love questions like this that challenge my thinking.

Loren Olson

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