Sex Education can't keep pretending fat teenagers don't have sex

The show's decision to exclude larger people from major storylines ignores the fact that we have feelings, libidos and love lives that are worth exploring

Sex Education Season 2 Trailer

I want to watch fat people having sex. On television, at the cinema, in magazines. I want to see fat people thinking about it, talking about it, and ultimately doing it at every major media outlet.

I have never felt this desire stronger than watching Sex Education this month. The teen series set in the beautiful, sprawling Welsh countryside with English accents and an American education system has been lauded for its diversity and showing what teens’ sex lives are really like.

However, as I began watching the latest series with delight, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness. A huge chunk of teens were missing: the fat ones.

To be clear, I am not dismissing the fact that this show has told incredible stories and has (rightly) received praise for it but when there is a show about sex that doesn’t show a single fat person doing it, something is up.

That’s not to say there are no fat characters. At the end of season 1 we see Lily act out her alien fantasy on a no-name overweight boy who never returns. And this season, we get to know Viv, the smartest girl in school who tutors the athletic Jackson. Throughout the season I was waiting for Viv and Jackson’s friendship to blossom into something more but sadly that moment never came.

“Why is this important?” I hear Twitter cry. “It’s promoting an unhealthy image!” the likes of Piers Morgan rants. But the truth is that happy, sexy fat people exist and I think that we should be allowed to see that. No one more so than teenagers.

Growing up, I assumed that my weight would dictate every social interaction. That I would never be able to find love or have sex as long as there was extra weight on my frame.

Fatphobic society tells us that we don’t deserve love or respect, let alone sex, and across the UK, there are thousands of young fat teenagers who are convinced they will never experience valuable love.

Teens need to know that loving a fat person isn’t odd and that your weight doesn’t dictate your happiness. The truth couldn’t be further from the “reality” shown on television. Fat people are loved by thin people, other fat people and everyone in between. We exist, as everyone who blabs on about the obesity epidemic won’t let us forget, and this existence is full of pleasure, sensuality and love.

That isn’t to say being fat isn’t hard. To be fat in society is to be the butt of every low-brow sitcom and to be the love interest’s confidant but never their date. Fat people know we are fat; we are warned about it by concerned relatives and shouted at by angry strangers.

One of Sex Education’s actors, Aimee Lou Wood, has spoken about her own insights into fatness while discussing her eating disorder. She told Glamour: “Feeling fat is not a feeling. You can feel full or you can feel bloated, or empty, or hungry, but you can’t feel fat. It’s an adjective. It’s an aesthetic thing. The word shouldn’t be demonised so much.”

Fat teenagers can also tell a myriad of great stories both about and ignoring their weight. Some shows are already doing that with Shrill, My Mad Fat Diary and Euphoria all showing complex nuanced fat characters that explore navigating a fatphobic society while also living full lives in spite of it.

Sex Education’s​ lack of viable fat love interests reinforces the idea that fat people don’t have sex and if they do, they should be lucky they’re even getting it in the first place. I hope season 3 of this otherwise groundbreaking show delivers more fat people. Not every character, not all the time, but I want to see a well-dressed fat girl who has problems with her skinny boyfriend, or a fat queer couple who want to know more about STDs.

Ultimately, fat people are bold and beautiful, timid and ordinary. We are not one-time magazine covers or obesity epidemic B-roll. We are people with thoughts, feelings, libidos, and love lives and we should be shown having bloody sex.

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