Personal preference is just that, but the language of personal preference is being used as a tool to marginalize fat people, particularly fat women. Read for more.
Some people prefer to fuck thin people. Some people prefer to fuck fat people. Many other people place no importance on the size of the people that they fuck. All of these are valid choices, but we only pretend that one is abnormal. Chubby chasing is bullshit.
Of course, as stated above, there are plenty of people that have a preference for larger people. There may be a physical reason, a chemical reason, a societal reason or a psychological reason for that preference. The important thing is that the reasoning behind said preference is entirely immaterial. Chubby chasing as a concept is steeped in the idea of othering fat people, especially fat women.
I'm going to get heteronormative here and talk almost exclusively about chubby chasing as it pertains to men dating women. This is primarily because as a cishet white guy, I want to keep this to my lived experience and avoid speaking for people that already have enough people trying to speak for them. Full disclosure: I am a fat man and I've dated women of all sizes.
Fat people (in particular fat women) have been deemed unacceptable by the cultural zeitgeist. As such, a fat person dating - having the audacity to imagine themselves as attractive to a person to whom they are also attracted - is considered an offense to that same cultural zeitgeist. There's tremendous pressure for fat people to be either apologetic or defiant for their size at the same time that they're meaning to find a partner, for sex or love or anything else.
There's not a thing wrong with being fat and proud; I make no apologies for my size and no one else should, thin or fat. The issue is that thin people aren't asked to apologize for their size* on anything resembling a regular basis, and pride and fat are considered mutually exclusive, particularly in the dating realm. While fat-shaming of men is a very real and problematic thing, the most virulent fat hatred is reserved for women that dare to find themselves desirable while straying outside a social standard that is defined so narrowly that supermodels are deemed to be in violation.
The idea of chubby chasing appears on its face to be an attempt to stigmatize men who have a preference that falls outside the accepted norm, and in many ways it is. A man who shows an interest in a fat woman is not expressing a personal preference but committing an unpardonable transgression against manhood and decency and is accordingly branded.
But chubby chasing as a concept isn't really aimed at men. It's one more method of stigmatizing fat women for existing and framing that existence as both morally wrong and entirely disposable. Fat women are simultaneously viewed as unattractive and as easy, a sort of booby prize when an acceptable woman is unavailable. Dehumanization is the norm and it's used as a weapon.
Then there's the flip side. With marginalization comes exoticism and fetishism; men project their own ideas of what a fat woman is and should be. Fat women are treated as nothing more than a vessel for validation - it's not uncommon to see fat women talked about as though they "appreciate it more." It's a preconception fueled by a fundamental view of fat women as lesser, as lucky to be receiving the attention of a man that views her as below his station. It's not rare for a man to be legitimately surprised to find that a "big girl" would draw attention out of proportion with her attractiveness, as perceived by him.
The idea that we should respect everyone's basic humanity and that our attractions are shaped by something outside ourselves usually sets off (to be kind) a strong defensive reaction. There's nothing immoral about preferring to date slender people, but check out the comments on any article even discussing fat-shaming as a general concept and the hostility and derailment is intense. Fatphobia is so pervasive that even an article whose main thrust is "fat people are people too" is instantly set upon by fatphobes.
Of course, there are trolls everywhere, but trolls aren't created in a vacuum. They often mirror prevailing (if unstated) cultural biases and attitudes. The idea that our judgment of people is based on a criteria that has no real definition and bears no indication of a person's inherent worth is very threatening to those who base their assessments of other people - and often themselves - on such an arbitrary measure as weight.
Chubby chasing is a term firmly grounded in the language of dehumanization and dedicated to the further marginalization of fat people, most especially fat women. While the concept deserves derision and dismissal, it's important to engage and break down the parts of our language (and there are many) that exist as a method to maintain power structures. We're all just people that are attracted to other people. Chubby chasing is bullshit.
*Yes, thin-shaming is a thing. No, it's not what we're talking about here.
Joshua David can be found on Twitter at @joshuaadavidd.
Image via Getty.