Many responses, and no outrage. I guess I was trafficking in a stereotype that isn't entirely accurate (the p.c. not the fatness). One reader writes:
My hunch is that without shallow, physically-oriented men to appeal to, many lesbians feel even less need to stay in shape than many straight women do.
Er, not exactly. At least, that's not what my lesbian friends have told me. Obese women have larger thighs, hips and breasts, which are all sexually desirable in lesbian communities. Physically fit women have smaller thighs and breasts. So among lesbians, there's actually a sexual incentive to be fat.
Not according to this woman:
I am a lesbian of normal weight who takes reasonably good care of herself, and I am frankly alarmed at the prevalence of obesity among lesbians. Indeed, it is nice to feel less pressure to conform to unattainable beauty standards than straight women do, but come on -- there has to be some kind of healthy middle ground between starving oneself in order to look good and letting oneself turn into a whale! And I don't buy the PC crap about "size discrimination" and whatnot. Obesity is a serious health issue. Period.
Not all of us are unwilling to talk about this, Andrew. I wish more lesbians would talk about it openly and honestly. I think the question of why obesity is more prevalent among lesbians could lead to some fruitful soul searching about unhealthy lifestyles. It could also bring to light potential biological factors and predispositions that would be useful to understand, if we could drop the PC code of silence about this problem.
And - oh heck, I'll admit it - aesthetics have value, too! As a woman, I may not be as focused on looks as men are predisposed to be, but I sure am tired of seeing so many queer ladies out there who are way past 200 pounds. Way, way past. Sorry, but no amount of "fat acceptance" is going to make that a pleasant sight - gay, straight, butch, femme, male or female.
Another self-described "fat lesbian" adds:
You have spoken many times about the different world-views of the different "gay generations". Gay people who are 55-65 have a sensibility most strongly borne of the fight with the closet, AIDS, internalized homophobia, etc. 40-somethings have had less of a fight than those trailblazers. But then, you have those 25-35 year olds who exhibit a self-acceptance that can be almost shocking to those of us just 15 years older.
I think lesbian obesity is one of these generational issues. I had a girlfriend 15 years my senior, who, while slim herself, was attracted to me as heavy. I always found that difficult to comprehend. My generation, and even more so, the girls reaching adulthood now are much more conscious about their weight. I'm not nearly as attractive to my own age group. For better or for worse, younger lesbians, femme or butch, seem to me to be more "physically-oriented" than their seniors.