TLC's 'Hot And Heavy' Gets A Big Fat NOPE From Me

by Katie Cloyd
Originally Published: 
Carolyn Marie Photography

I’m really, really not into the term “mixed-weight couple.”

I recently saw a pretty decent amount of buzz circulating about a new show on TLC called “Hot and Heavy.” According to the official press release, this is a show about three couples “determined to prove to their skeptical friends, family and the public that love is love no matter what you look like.”

But I watched the first three episodes, and … it’s a big fat no from me.

To be fair, the show is pretty much exactly what you’d expect based on the title, previews and network. They deliver what they promise. The way most of the men act is not great, and there are scenes that feel exploitative to me. But these adults invited cameras into their lives, and they have that right. If you like what TLC usually does with topics like this, it might be your jam.

But the more I think about it and try to unpack it, the more levels of total nope I discover.

Problem number one: In all three instances, the thin, male partner is clearly meant to be the “hot one.”

His fat female partner is the “heavy” — because of course she is.

Ew. No. Why are we still allowing this in the year of our Lord 2020? They couldn’t find a fat guy with a thin partner, or literally any kind of couple that is not comprised of a cis thin guy and a cis fat girl? I just can’t get on board with that.

On top of that, I don’t feel connected to the entire concept of a “mixed-weight couple.” This wasn’t my introduction to the term. I’ve heard it a lot of other places before this. Some people prefer it and really connect to the way it makes them feel, and I understand why. The social issues surrounding fat bodies do tend to bleed into romantic relationships. People treat couples with one fat partner like shit sometimes. A relationship with partners in very different-sized bodies comes with frustration, and sharing a label with other people in similar situations can be helpful for some people.

I think that’s reasonable. I find a lot of comfort and courage when I visit spaces designed to be safe for fat bodies, in real life and online. Fat individuals face heaps of discrimination and unfair treatment. You will never hear me say that fat bias and weight stigma don’t exist. They do. Shitty treatment for fat people is everywhere, and life in a fat body hurts sometimes because of it.

But no matter how hard I try to get on board, it turns out I am just not here for the term “mixed-weight couple” when it comes to my own marriage. It’s not the terminology that bothers me. It’s the whole idea. There’s no term I’d prefer over this one. I really don’t want anyone to use any kind of size-related label for us.

The idea that my husband and I face our different-sized bodies together like some kind of obstacle to our love is not accurate. My body is not a problem for us, ever.

But it’s more than that.

First, I feel like choosing the label “mixed-weight couple” allows us to claim struggles that I do not believe we have a right to claim. Yeah, I’m fat and my husband isn’t. Sometimes people are dicks about it. That sucks. Bad.

But at the end of every day, we are two straight, cis white middle-class U.S. citizens. We benefit from the immense privilege that comes with those things all day long. Our sameness lends us protection much more frequently than our different sizes bring us pain.

In our country, couples of different races and LGBTQIA+ couples have faced physical violence and almost insurmountable legal hurdles just to be allowed to be in love in public. Couples of different races couldn’t marry everywhere in the States until 1967. Marriage equality for LGBTQIA+ couples didn’t exist in the US until 2015. Both were hard-won uphill battles.

A law against “fat/thin marriage” has never been a thing. I’ve never felt unsafe because of my marriage. I am not about to hitch my wagon to an experience I have no business claiming because I have not lived it. No thank you. Everything is not about me.

Another thing that really bothers me about the whole “mixed-weight couple” concept is how much more frequently it’s thrown at couples consisting of a fat woman and a thin man than it is at any other configuration of couple. Overall, we are pretty much okay as a society with fat guys dating thin women and fat people dating one another. Sometimes it occurs to me that my husband could become fat, and I could become thin, and the overall effect would be near complete invisibility in public. Nobody would care because fat guys with thin girls don’t register as noteworthy.


Of course, body size pressures exist for every single human being. Nobody is really safe from unrealistic expectations. But women face more pressure than men, especially when it comes to becoming and remaining thin. We are just “supposed to be” thin. Diet culture is our culture. Our society encourages women to exercise to the point of injury and diet to the point of starvation until we bring our bodies into submission to the ideal aesthetic. We are supposed to be the cultural ideal of beauty if we want to “deserve” good-looking (read: thin) partners.

Thin partners are, after all, inherently more valuable than fat partners, right? Any fat person can snag another fat person, but if a fat person snags a thin person, well, that’s a real honor.

It’s all just so repugnant.

Honestly, I used to be part of it. I found a lot of validation in my husband’s size for years. Sure, I was fat, but we weren’t fat. We weren’t a “fat couple,” which, for some reason appeased my internalized body shame and fatphobia. His more conventionally attractive size made my fat body feel more legitimate or acceptable to me.

It all sounds horrible to me now. I’m embarrassed that I believed that. But that kind of self-hatred isn’t created in a vacuum. I hated myself because I bought into a lot of lies that society is still telling fat women to this day.

I guess even though I didn’t have a term for it back then, I did feel very much like we were a “mixed-weight couple.” The difference in our sizes felt like a defining characteristic of our union because my insecurity was a defining characteristic of my life.

That’s probably why I can’t get with it now.

I’ve moved on from that apologetic existence. I feel very free to take up space now. More space than my husband. I reject the idea that his desire for my body is what makes my body desirable. I no longer accept that his attraction to me means anything more than it would if I was thin.

Nothing groundbreaking happened here. We aren’t engaging in any kind of activism or bravery by living our lives together. We couldn’t be more ordinary. Our body sizes are damn near irrelevant to us.

The “mixed-weight couple” label doesn’t serve us. Doesn’t serve me. It doesn’t get me closer to my goal of total body acceptance, and it make our lives happier. So, it’s not for us.

Call yourself and your partner anything that works for you, but please don’t call us a mixed-weight couple. We aren’t taking that one on.

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