No Fats No Femmes (Skinny to Fit Only)
How society and the LGBT+ community would allow me to be me... if I was skinny, had a symmetrical face, no body hair, a metabolism of a hummingbird, and the makeup skills of Patrick Ta. And how all of this affects my mental health
WARNING: this article is not meant to bash anyone or any select group. This article is meant to bring to light an issue that is not talked about in the LGBT community, fashion industry, cosmetic industry, entertainment industry, and social media.
All Tea, No Shade
Since I was a little kid, I was different. I played with Barbies and Disney Princess dolls, my favorite color was pink, and I wanted to be the pink power ranger while playing with other kids at recess. All things that were "not for boys." Apparently liking certain things made you "weak," "a sissy," "a weirdo," or "a pansy." I was bullied by many classmates (physically and emotionally), lost friends 'cause they didn't want to be associated with me, and left all by myself when the teacher said "choose a partner for this activity." I didn't want to change myself just so I wouldn't get bullied or called names. But I grew up in the early 2000s, a time where boys had shirts that said "trouble maker " or "chick magnet" and girls wore shirts that had shirts that said "I'm the Princess around here" and "Where's the glitter?"
It wasn't until my junior year in high school (where I transferred back into my school district after going to a private middle school and first 2 years of a private high school) when many of the "mean" classmates actually said hi to me, asked me about my school experience outside of the school district, and funny enough some of them turned out to be gay themselves (yeah, never got an apology for splitting my lip open but whatever). I was able to be my truest self. I could wear a bit of makeup, paint my nails and wear shirts with Disney princesses on them. No one cared.
But my senior year, I noticed something that is just unfair. More students came out across all the LGBT+ spectrum and I was happy about that. What I wasn't happy about was only the super skinny, very femme gay boys were popular and were photographed to show "diversity." How it was so acceptable for them to wear pink rompers and high heels and have fake nails without anybody asking "Why is he doing that?" And while if I did that, I'd be ridiculed and made fun of. But I ask why? Why couldn't I do it? Was I not cool enough? Was I not confident enough to wear those things? And then 2 things hit me straight in the feelings and the self confidence department.
Hit 1. I wasn't a standard of beauty that was acceptable to anyone.
Hit 2. I was too fat for those clothes.
I went to beauty school and was one of the few guys there. The was another student there with thick, long hair, wore highlighter and contour everyday, and had acrylic nails. At the student salon, he got all the balayage clients, the fun hair color stuff, and updos. Most of the time, he didn't even know them and they were walk-in clients. I was stuck doing root touch ups, roller sets, and haircuts (mostly trims). I didn't know why I couldn't get clients like that. I wore makeup, was kind, had great skills too. After complaining about it to my hair stylist, who has been cutting my hair since I started beauty school, they told me this:
"You're not going to get hired unless you change. The nail polish, the women's clothes, the makeup, they all got to go. Nobody wants a feminine guy doing their hair. They want a masculine man who dresses manly to do their hair. Because women want what men want their girlfriends' hair to be."
After that, I never saw her again and went to my local barber shop. I really wanted to scream "Your wrong! The world is changing!" But at the back of my mind I thought "What if she was right?" The next day at school, I was talking to my fellow beauty school students about what she said, since they all noticed I wasn't my happy self. It got to the point where the teachers told me, "The beauty industry is filled with people of all shapes and sizes. And that your work should do the talking." After graduating beauty school, and taking my state boards, I was ready to find work. Sadly, I got nothing. I wore more simple makeup and all black clothing that fit me nicely. All the responses in the rejection emails varied. "Your work is too edgy for our salon." "You look too edgy." "You look too conservative." "Your work is too conservative." "You have no real job experience." And finally the one that hit me like a ton of bricks:
"You don't look like a hair stylist."
I felt like they didn't care about my work, only what I looked like. At a lot of the salons that I applied for, I found out that they hired male stylists that were fit and masculine or fit and feminine. It was unfair; just because I'm plus size I can't get work? And behind every vague response was the slight hint of "you're too fat to work here." I feel like everyone cares about what their staff physically looks like and not the work they can produce. That stylist that told me that I need to change. I started to think she was right. From family members telling me to change and just "go out there and get a job" to my parents make the same suggestion in a different tone.
2017 was the year I saw the body positivity movement... but only among plus size women. Plus size men don't get the same encouragement as plus size women do. Plus size men get stuck with the "Big and tall" section, filled with super basic, no-fun designs, no trendy clothing. The clothes either fit your length but not the width, or the width fist and not the length. It sucks.
I made the switch to girls and women's clothing around the 3rd grade. The styles were all that I wanted. I was finally able to be me. But it came at a price. Bullying and teasing were at an all time high for me. Kids who would come out of the closet years later would bully me. During that time, my mental health was terrible. I had to go back and forth in my mind thinking "will the bullying ever stop?" "Should I just conform to society's standards?" And other darker thoughts that a kid in the 3rd grade student shouldn't think.
In beauty school the dress code was black, white and black & white (trust me no one was getting away with grey). No one judged me and that was the time I experimented with my personal style. I found the store Torrid, a plus sized store for teens to older women and fell in love with the fashion. It was filled with trendy, femme clothes and all of the clothes were all in my size. My ENTIRE wardrobe became Torrid branded clothing. Whenever I entered the Torrid store and was greeted by the store employee, I thanked them for working at a store that was so inclusive and so encouraging of loving your body instead of hiding it away, a store that encouraged people to try the trends that people have told them "would make them look fatter" and gave me so much confidence. When I wear clothing from Torrid, I have a pep in my step and all the confidence in the world.
I went to RuPaul's Dragcon NYC in 2017 and 2018 and it was filled to the brim of the Javitz center with people of every shape and every color from the drag race fandom and the LGBT community there. I "dragged" up my looks for both years that I attended. And the response was mostly positive. People who walked by screaming "YAASS" or "WERK!" But there were a lot of people who gave me a certain look. A facial expression that screamed "Eww, why are you wearing that? Who let you out of the house wearing that?" And I also noticed that people gave that look to other people who were plus sized too. A lot of the merchandise tables and vendors only had t shirts or clothing items that were only basic sizing (XS - XXL), and maybe if you're lucky up to 2XL. Only the plus sized drag queens had normal sizing and an extended plus size range. So why is it I can only get certain merchandise from certain queens and vendors based on my size? The LGBT community PREACHES messages like "My body is perfect!" or "Everyone is equally beautiful!" Yet clothing companies and merchandise for musical artists think that it's too much of a financial burden to make their products in all sizes. Sometime they do have extended sizes, but you have to pay $15 to $25 more then the price for the merchandise sized XS-XL.
It seems nowadays everyone in the Gen Z generation (I read multiple articles about what year the millennial gen ended and it ranges between 1995 -1998, personally I think if you can recall where you were on New Year's Eve in 1999 the moment it turned the year 2000, you're a millennial. Feel free to disagree with me, but it's my opinion) is good at makeup or is a "model" and is trying to a famous on Instagram by trying to be a beauty influencer or influencer in some way or another. I have noticed a lot of these clout chasers are young (ages 13-19), skinny or super fit gay men that take photos with their shirts off in a model-like way or are wearing makeup with bright colors, cut crease, false lashes, liquid lipsticks and for some reason wearing acrylic nails (I don't know how you guys or girls do anything with them, but good for you). And I see it all the time, a cosmetics brand will post a picture with the caption "@insertpersonsnamehere is looking super fierce with our (insert product they used) and complimented his/her look with our (insert product here in a very specific shade from a very specific collection that they just launched) to complete this fabulous look! #brandnamehere #brandnameCRUELTYFREE #Crueltyfree."
In no way, shape or form am I saying that brands are doing bad by including influencers on their Instagram to endorse their product. To me that is smart marketing. What I am saying is that they're choosing to only include men that only fit a certain body type while there are thousands of makeup artists who have the same amount of followers and just so happen to be plus size who aren't included. Also, brand trips, where they send a whole bunch of beauty gurus and influencers to various places to endorse a new products or new collections, all just so happen to be girls, plus sized girls and skinny femme men, with not a plus sized man in sight. It really feels like the only way to be a gay man in the beauty industry and be successful is to be either masculine (almost straight passing) and have a six pack or super skinny, femme guy, wearing heels, showing your midriff, having crazy elaborate makeup and acrylic nails.
It's like "You're skinny, gay, and dress with a crop top??? Congrats!! You're gonna be super successful!! And if you're not... too bad find another industry" is being said to me in those photos. As much as I am happy that cosmetics actually acknowledge that men wear makeup and decided to include them in ads and campaigns, I still feel that plus sized men should be included. It's legit pretty privilege without anyone saying that pretty privilege is real.
So Titus and Cam are the ONLY both plus size and femme male LGBT TV characters that I could find in the history of TV. My years (I'm 22) of watching various TV series via Netflix and TV in general have seen 3 very specific character archetypes that show up in almost any show with male LGBT characters. Also it's kind of sad because the LGBT community is so diverse with many sub-communities within the community (such as otters, femme, bears, non-binary etc.), yet the writers, producers and directors chose only 1 sub-community. It's like Baskin Robins saying "We will only make and serve chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Yes we know that there are a million other flavors, but we are gonna stick with these two flavors. Complain as much as you want, but we won't change our mind 'til we see other companies make all the flavors." (I know this example is like not realistic but I'm hoping you get the point).
1. The super in shape gay or just like normal body type who tells everyone "I'm gay but I can still beat you up, I'm still me I just love men."
2. The super skinny twink who deals with bullying in high school or is the skinny nerd and ends up the the quarter back of the football team with no trouble from the community
3. The plus sized guy who's just there for comic relief, never a love interest or leading man
Now you're probably thinking, "Author lack of representation is not a new issue when it's comes to TV and movies." The problem with this is that it is showing a very small percentage of the very diverse community. And what makes it worse is that the community and the non-LGBT community takes these expected gay male TV show roles" and will only accept what they see in things like plays, movies, jobs, models and campaigns. As TV shows were originally supposed to represent different types of people, they really don't.
For years I have been reading articles about how it wasn't until this person with my skin tone or my weight or my hair type or my race that I have felt seen and could connect to. There are just so many little children or tweens that look up to characters on TV. And from not having the diversity, we get the notion that if we don't fit these TV characters to a T, we feel like we are outsiders and don't feel accepted. I didn't have anyone like me on TV growing up. It wasn't 'til I was in the 6th grade that I saw Kurt Hummel on Glee. He was into fashion, liked show tunes and liked boys (I was in the closet at this time). But he was skinny. Now in the 2019, I'm FINALLY seeing diversity in characters. Not only in appearance, but in sexuality and race.
From Tinder to Bumble to Grindr to Hornet to Scruff, there are many gay men with the profiles that say "No Femmes, No Fats." This is where the whole "No Fats, No Femmes" thing began. After having random conversations with random people on apps, I asked why specifically they aren't into Femmes or Fats. The main answer was "It's not to be rude... it's just a preference." But asking other people to be specific, I got various answers.
For people who put "No Fats," it was all based on aesthetics. A lot of the fit model types I talked to talked about how it's not attractive and gives the idea that they aren't able to have sex or in a relationship "because they are ugly and won't be able to move well" (yes that is an actually answer I got). I find that very hard to believe, the bear community has huskier guys and have their own porn category. I believe that it is the hot fit people only wanting to date hot fit people, someone to have to go to the gym with and take thirst trap Instagram pics. I don't think it would be so bad to have a mixed weight couple; we see Cameron and Mitchell on Modern Family. Plus I think it would be super cute to have a boyfriend who goes to the gym, and I tag along with him and try to get in shape with him. A free spotter on weights, a cheerleader and a personal trainer.
All they guys that put "No Femmes" had basically the same answer. "If I wanted to date a femme person, I'd be dating a girl and be straight." Both masculine and femme men have the same parts, so don't worry, you're still gay if you date a femme guy. I believe this all came from the stereotype that parents ask their son who introduces his boyfriend for the first time "So out of the both of you, who wears the pants in the relationship?" The way that society has drilled into our brain that the only way to have a successful relationship is to have a manly man who makes the decisions and a feminine woman who cooks and cleans. One of my exes actually told me that he'd want me to stay home, cook and clean, and greet him at the door with a martini and a kiss. I may be femme but I REFUSE to be treated like a housewife in 1940s.
Dating has never been easy for me and it's still tough. Im not gonna lie, as much as I give the impression that I'm happier single and that I don't need to waste my time on finding a man, I kinda want a man. I want the cheesy rom-com relationship with random fun dates, dinner and a movie, staying home and ordering in and cuddling in bed. I've been conditioned by society and TV to believe that if I have a Prince Charming that I'll get my happily ever after and be happy for the rest of my life. Using dating apps suck; I get matched with a guy who I swiped right on and then less then 10 seconds later I'm unmatched. It makes me feel that I'm unworthy of having a relationship. Sometimes when I'm really bummed about a guy (or like every match I ever had on Tinder), I start thinking "what if it is me? What if I'm too fat to be loved? What if I'm too femme to be loved? Maybe if I'm not myself, I'll find somebody to love." It's not healthy for me to be thinking that at all. I don't think anyone should be thinking that. Yet it's totally fine for every single couple to say "there are plenty of fish in the sea" or "you'll find love when you least expect it." Yet how long can one person believe that before they come to terms that they will be alone?
Within the LGBT Community
The LGBT community has multiple goals 1. Have the same human rights as the heterosexual community, 2. Be treated with respect in and out of the community, despite our differences, and 3. Build each other up and celebrate each other's differences and so much more. Notice what I put in the second and third goal, it's sad because I have noticed that we [people of the LGBT community] preach things that we don't practice. I know I have only been active in it for about 4 years, and I've noticed the amount of hypocrisy that is being preached.
One of the things that grinds my gears is the stigma about people who identify femme is that they are less than and if they are also plus size they don't matter. One of the things that I believe that people aren't getting is the toxic masculinity is actually so toxic that it infected the LGBT community. The amount of any form femininity that is seen as the way as misogyny is given to women because women are seen as the "weaker" sex. I have no idea why women are seen as the "weaker" sex, women can legit give birth to a human, take care of those babies AND still work a full-time schedule. Also isn't it one of the thousands of goals of the LGBT community to not be like the [select few super close-minded men that just so happen to be] straight community in the thousands of years that humans have lived in a functioning civilization, where men and women legit have the same rights and have the same respect for each gender? Like I grew up around fierce, bad ass women, and people have the nerve to call me weak cause I'm femme. "He must not have had a Father figure growing up so he's like this." Wrong, I grew up with my dad teaching me to respect all genders and that anyone can do anything. And the excuses are just endless.
And it's not just me calling out these problems with the LGBT community and just society in general. The amount of tweets and images that I have seen from members of the LGBT community would make anyone be shocked. I have seen tweets such as:
"You only celebrate femininity when it's preformed by a fit, cis, male and it shows"
"Gays: Cheer plus size women for being beautiful and fierce! Also Gays: Don't give any dudes with an ounce of fat attention or a chance"
"'EQUALITY' scream the gays with 'LEGALIZE GAY' across their shirts & 'NO FATS, NO FEMS, NO ASAINS' across their Tinder and Grindr profiles"
While doing research for this article and for the reassurance that I'm not the only one thinking "this needs to be addressed," I found dozens of articles about this exact topic. Websites such as The Daily Beast, The LA Times, Mic.com, Reddit and even Pride.com have addressed this topic. The first time that I saw this issue being addressed was on Rupaul's Drag Race during season 8 episode 7, "Shady Politics," where Kim Chi uses the "No Fats, No Femmes, No Asians" slogan to make a point about why she should be the first drag president. In a bonus clip, Michelle Visage asked if it was a real thing and to explain what it means. Kim Chi explained it and Michelle responded, "That's terrible, I'm sad now, that's horrible and racist." When I saw that behind the scenes clip, I thought "FINALLY!!!! On national television someone calls out the bullshit!." And the fact that it's on such as highly viewed show spoke volumes. Did I expect it to fix this problem? No. Do I expect it to spark a conversation? Heck yes.
How to fix the problem
I don't have a foolproof answer on how to fix this problem. But there are things that you (yes you the reader) can do to stop the stigma.
1. If you are at an LGBT event and see people pushed aside for being different, stand up for them and invite them to join you. All we want is inclusivity.
2. Make campaigns to TV and movie studios, beauty companies and fashion designers and demand to have actually diverse LGBT talent. Make it as diverse as the real world is and not just this Barbie and Ken standard that been like this for the past 200 years.
3. Call out people on dating apps, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube who talk about "No Fats, No Femmes." It's not that hard to call someone out nowadays.
4. Make an open conversation about this topic with your friends.
5. Don't belittle someone because they are plus sized or femme. They are just as unique as you.
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