“Cheyenne, how did you get into kink?” is a question that I constantly get. During the pandemic, many of us have been trying to connect and reconnect with ourselves, whether it be through spirituality, creativity, or sexuality. In my case, it was all of these things, driven by the urge to tap into kink again and further explore myself.
In my teens, I was intrigued by D/s (Dominance and submission) and BDSM, feeling particularly drawn to rope and submission.
Kink was something that always piqued my interest. In my teens, I was intrigued by D/s (Dominance and submission) and BDSM, feeling particularly drawn to rope and submission. I yearned to live in that world, and on the day of my 18th birthday, I decided to indulge my curiosity and see what lay beneath the surface.
At this stage in my life, my relationship with my fatness and Blackness wasn’t the healthiest. While trying to navigate the oppressions of a fatphobic society and a predominantly white neighborhood, I turned to the lifestyle because I wanted to discover and liberate myself from societal expectations — to feel wanted and included.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I signed up for several kink chat rooms and made a FetLife account. Well-curated yet bodily ambiguous photos and a detailed profile in tow, I perused personal ads, sifted through countless group discussions, and sent messages to people of interest in hopes of forging friendship and building community.
In the beginning, exploring kink was fun and exciting. I was the fresh newcomer that sparked a lot of attention in group chats, and soon after, people began to fall in love with my wit and relatable sense of humor. I captivated the hearts and loins of many, enrapturing them with my salacious yet sensual wordplay, a skill that landed me my first, virtual dynamic with a white, male Dom.
Our dynamic was nothing short of thrilling — a torrid lust affair filled with sexting under the covers and conversing in secrecy. I felt safe and sexy in these moments, engaging in something that despite not physically being experienced, manifested in mental stimulation.
The catalyst for the shifting point in our kinky internet entanglement was my Dom’s sudden and incessant request for pictures of my body without offering to show his, let alone even his face. At this point, I was still very insecure about my body image and how I would be perceived because of it. However, after a week of coercion in the form of sweet affirmations, I finally sent him a picture of myself fully clothed. Much to my surprise, my Dom was very pleased with what he’d seen, and this gave me much relief.
Seeing him react to my body so pleasantly made me more and more inclined to share more and more of myself and it, thus starting my association with my fatness and male-centered desirability.
Seeing him react to my body so pleasantly made me more and more inclined to share more and more of myself and it, thus starting my association with my fatness and male-centered desirability. Despite us navigating seemingly calm yet pleasant uncharted territory, below the surface there were more insidious forces at work that were slowly but surely working their way up.
The kind, soft-spoken person that I semi-knew became someone that was dogmatic, nonconsensually degrading, and manipulative. Whenever I went against his wishes, he would always threaten to ignore me or even make inappropriate comments about my body. Whenever we were in chat rooms together, he would always monitor my communication with others and then gaslight me into thinking that I was being out of line for attempting to build a positive rapport with them. The final straw was when I expressed my desire to end our dynamic because of his abusive behavior, and he not only fat-shamed me but also threatened me with sexual violence and revenge porn. Petrified by his words, I blocked him on everything and began to reassess all that I experienced in this situation.
Although it dawned on me that he was the perfect metric for what type of encounters I did not want to have in kink going forward, part of me also wondered if my body and its size were the cause of such violence. My mistreatment left me feeling emotionally scarred, but deep down, I still craved the “positive” attention and affirmation that my body had previously received. Noting this, I reentered the kink space with more full-body pictures and fragile self-esteem, embarking on a quest to validate my existence.
Initially, receiving messages about how arousing my body was felt empowering, but I also started coming to the realization that most of my interactions lacked respect.
The new experiences that I was having felt iterative at best. In each interaction, the more visible my fat, Black body was the more unsavory and unsolicited comments and projections I would receive from strangers and partners alike. Initially, receiving messages about how arousing my body was felt empowering, but I also started coming to the realization that most of my interactions lacked respect. When at munches and other public events, men would unapologetically grab and paw at my body without my consent, and on virtual platforms, I constantly received dick pics and one-sided hypersexual epithets on how they yearn for me to smother them.
On the flip side, people have demeaned my body or blocked opportunities because of my identity, whether it be telling me that I’m “surprisingly pretty for a plus-sized girl” or being relegated to “BBW friendly” spaces and events when trying to connect with fellow kinksters. If kink is a “safe space” where everyone could congregate and flourish without the judgment and pressures of the outside world, then why did my body subject me to so much harm from the very people that were uniting to dispel oppressive forces?
Suddenly, I realized that there was something greater at play that went beyond my personal experiences — fatphobia. An institution of white supremacy that directly affects the survivability of fat folx, fatphobia manifests in different ways, and for me, it often showed up in the form of harsh statements and backhanded compliments.
As I thought more and more about the ways I was being harmed by fatphobic commentary and occurrences, I wanted to find out how it affects other people, primarily folx that look like me, in the kink lifestyle. I decided to have a more in-depth conversation with my friend Maddox, a fat, Afrolatinx femme-identifying pro-Domme, who not only shared some of the same sentiments as I did but also provided some insight on our plight.
According to them, the first step in debunking our mistreatment in the lifestyle is understanding the intersections of kink and fatness.
“Both [the kink and fat community] are fringe-groups on the other side of acceptable, societal standards and practices. These groups are looked upon as different than the norm, and therefore, unacceptable by the mainstream,“ Maddox states. “That is changing slowly, but as a whole, both communities are frowned upon.”
Much of the existence in these spaces comes from being othered, and although these communities both work to eradicate oppression, they are still microcosms of the same world that ostracized them in the first place.
Being that we aren’t the primary focus in these spaces, this question still remains; is kink a safe space for fat Black femmes?
When it comes to fat folx in kink spaces, especially in terms of munches, workshops, and even play parties, the people that are centered are definitely not people that resemble me or Maddox. They often belong to groups that represent social acceptability — also known as thin, able, white bodies. Being that we aren’t the primary focus in these spaces, this question still remains; is kink a safe space for fat Black femmes?
First and foremost, we need to have a conversation about how the lifestyle creates a false sense of security through the fetishization of fat bodies. On FetLife alone, there is a multitude of examples of fat fetishes such as “feeder/feedee roleplay, [weight-based] humiliation and BBW domination and/or face-sitting” as Maddox mentions. Although folx are free to participate in these acts as long as they are consenting adults, the real issue lies in the perception of fatness as a taboo because it has become a fetish for the community, and in turn, this leads to fetishizing folx based on their bodies. According to them, fetishization venerates fat bodies through a lens of the consumption and pleasure of the “admirer”, and even though fatness is acceptable in some ways, that does not mean that “it’s a perfect example of fat-acceptance.”
Although playing a large part in revamping and rebuilding the kink community, fat, Black femmes are caught up in a vicious cycle of being mammified and relegated into the role of being the community security guards for others, yet when in harm’s way we are the first to be blamed for our identities and are often told that our advocacy comes from our anger with our bodies and not with the systemic oppression that we face. We are sought after for sexual gratification and ultimately stripped of our personhood. We are the activists of inclusivity and equity in kink spaces, yet are given no access to these areas.
We must fight for creating our own spaces that are exclusively inclusive of us and people that are willing to support and advocate for us as well.
The onus is not on fat, Black femmes to protect themselves. It is up to those with privilege to not only hold themselves accountable for their harm and lack of regard but to also make space for us to properly exist in the lifestyle. Furthermore, as a community, we need to have more and more conversations that not only center and amplify our voices but are also safe containers where we can band together for activism and sharing circles. We must fight for creating our own spaces that are exclusively inclusive of us and people that are willing to support and advocate for us as well. Lastly, we must support and compensate fat, Black femmes for their time, effort, and work. It’s exhausting constantly fighting against injustices within the community. However, I am certain that we are entering a new space where we can not only and successfully fight for our existence but also make kink safer and inclusive for Black and fat femme bodies.