BIG BIG Love, PLUS Model Magazine Interviews Author Hanne Blank
Big girls and big guys need love, too. Hell, we love to be loved and love to love! Hanne Blank just so happens to agree and has written all about plus size love and sexy time in one of her eight publications, BIG BIG Love. Join PLUS Model Magazine as we get down and dirty with the author and she spills the plus size beans on how plus size people deserve love and great sex just as much as anyone else!
N: Hanne, where did you grow up and where are you based now?
H: I grew up in Cleveland and I currently am based in Baltimore.
N: What was your inspiration for BIG BIG Love and how long did it take you to write?
H: Well, the current edition of BIG BIG Love is the second book by that name and the first one came out in 2000. And that book was written because I was in grad school at the time, I was working on my PHD and in my copious spare time I had begun doing a lot of activism around size and sexuality. I wasn’t seeing out there in the world any materials that really reflected my experience of having a really full, happy, exciting, varied, and interesting sex life as a big girl.
So I started a Zine, this being back in the day when people still had Zines, called Zaftig about sex and size issues – fat related issues. And I started teaching some seminars, little workshop type things at various women-owned sex boutiques and sex toy stores. And I’d been doing this for a little while and I got an email out of the blue from this tiny, tiny publisher in California who specialized in sexuality titles, saying, “Hey, have you ever thought about writing a book?” And I hadn’t actually, but I figured what the hell, why not? And so that’s how the first BIG BIG Love was written and like I said; that came out in 2000.
And so when Caspian Press approached me about doing a new edition of the book, I leapt at the chance because I wanted to get it back out there where people could find it, read it, and use it. I didn’t want to just reissue the old book because that would have been kind of silly. Ten years later, you’ve got new stuff to say, you’ve got new resources to put in there and, so that’s what I did. You know the window to doing the new edition was actually pretty short. I think I put it all together in six months but, the thing was that I had written the book before so I kind of had my work cut out for me.
N: When it comes to sex, what comes to mind or happens with the emotions of the pleasantly plump?
H: Well, there’s not just one thing that happens. And I think it depends a lot on what your own personal history has been. I think that most women in North American culture, regardless of their size have issues about is my body good enough? Is my body attractive enough? Am I attractive enough to deserve to be sexual? To deserve to have someone desire me? Do I have to go out of my way to perform in a certain way sexually so that my partner will accept me despite the fact that my body may not be perfect? There’s a lot of inadequacies stuff floating around and there’s a lot of fear.
N: That can be very intimidating.
H: Well it could be very intimidating and it’s a buzz kill. I mean, it’s really hard to have a good time when you’re scared.
N: What happens when you, “get on top and go for it”? Which feelings or sensations will one be left with when they “get on top and go for it”?
H: Well I think you don’t necessarily have to get on top to go for it, so I’ll just throw that out there. If that’s what you want to do, then absolutely go for it and have a fantastic time, but it’s not what everyone wants to do. And that’s okay, too.
But this whole thing about going for it, about sort of leaving your inhibitions on the floor with your underpants and getting in there and really letting loose, I think that’s always a really liberating experience. Sometimes it’s also scary, especially if you’ve never really done that before; it can be pretty overwhelming and there’s a lot of emotional stuff that goes along with that and it can kind of take you by surprise like, “Oh my God what did I just do?”
But at the same time, it’s really liberating and one of the stories I keep hearing from women as they’re sort of working through their stuff about their bodies and about sex and about feeling sexy in their own bodies and about really going after their own desires is, just how good it feels to be that honest with yourself about this is what I want, this is what I like, this is how I like it and I’m going to go and get it.
N: Most people would think that sex is the one of the things that people don’t need to be told to “go for”. What made you want to come out with a how-to?
H: Well, what really made me want to come out with a how-to is that I have talked to an awful lot of people about sex in my time. I mean, my job, my work is that I’m a historian of sexuality and this is what I do.
I talk and read and think and write about sex and about people’s relationships with sex in a historical context and also in a modern context all the time. And if there’s one take-home message you get when you do that for a living it’s that this is not natural, it’s not easy, it’s very complicated, people are very complicated, and that because of the fact that we are complicated and sex is complicated and culture is complicated and all this stuff is complicated, if we don’t talk about it and we don’t get these ideas out there and circulating where people can see them and find them; what we end up doing is sitting there feeling that we are the only people in the world that have this problem and that is poison.
N: It leaves a sense of isolation.
H: Well it’s the isolation and it’s the shame. Because if you live in a culture where everybody tells you, “we don’t need to tell you how to have sex, we don’t need to tell you what to do, this will all come naturally” and you find that it doesn’t, that leads to an enormous sense of shame for a lot of people and it’s totally pointless; that shame.
N: Do you think or believe there is any difference between sex with a skinny couple versus sex with a plump couple?
H: You know, I have never had sex as skinny person, but I’ve had sex with plenty of skinny people and I’ve had sex with other fat people and I think that there are qualitative differences. I mean bodies that are shaped differently feel different. But it’s not a better than or worse than situation; it’s more like, is there a difference between a fruit salad that you make with plums and strawberries verses a fruit salad that you make with kiwi fruit and pineapples. Yes, they’re different, but one’s not better than the other.
N: Why are you so comfortable with both “F-words”?
H: Because I spend a lot of time talking about it (laughing). I mean honestly, it’s one of those things where the first couple of times you’re out in public and you’re running your mouth about fat and sex, you kind of look around thinking okay so the building’s still standing, everyone’s still breathing, good, alright, onward.
And then it’s just easy because you realize that these are just ideas and words and they need to be talked about and people actually really want to hear them. As embarrassed as they might get, these are things that people want to hear about, these are things that people want to talk about, these are ideas that people want to have and honestly, a lot of people need folks like me and a lot of my colleagues who do this kind of work will be the ones to stand up and make it okay to say these words and to think these thoughts and to just kind of let it all out of the bottle. And then other people can see the same thing that we get to see, which is, yes, if you say I’m fat and I fuck and it’s cool, it’s great, I have a great life, I have a great sex life and it’s all good and people kind of go, “oh yeah, she can actually say those words and a huge bolt of lightning does not come out of the sky.”
N: Is it better, in your opinion, for plus sized people to mate with other plus sized individuals?
H: What I think is better, is if you go for what you like. If you’re a straight big woman and you dig big guys, then rock it. And if you don’t, then rock that. There’s no point in limiting, life limits us enough in all the different ways that it does. There is no point in trying to tell yourself that you want something that you don’t want.
N: What are you finding is the first response when people hear of or read, BIG BIG Love?
H: It’s interesting because it’s changed. When the first BIG BIG Love came out, the most common response that I got was a sort of nervous giggle. Like “ha ha” you just said the words fat and sex in the same sentence, I’m not sure I can cope with that.
And now eleven years later, the response that I usually get to it is; “Really! That’s really cool! I’ve never heard of anything like that and that’s really exciting.” It’s awesome that people are now thinking, “Oh yes, that’s a thing and that’s really cool that there are resources out there because of course, why wouldn’t it be.”
N: Is this your first literary release and will you be releasing any other literary works anytime soon?
H: Oh God no, my eighth book comes out in a week and the new book is a history called Straight: The surprisingly short history of heterosexuality and it’s out with Beacon Press. Yes, so I’ve written a bunch of other books and I’m in the middle of writing two more so, yes, it keeps me out of trouble and off the streets.
N: What is the message you want plus sized people to remember when it comes to intimacy?
H: That you deserve it just as much as anybody else does and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
N: What keeps you on this journey to change the mindset of people regarding the connection between plus sized individuals and sex?
H: Honestly it’s because I feel a deep personal need to see out there in the world reflections of my own reality and the reality that I know is there in my life. That’s there in the lives of hundreds of hundreds of people that I’ve talked to and taught and worked with.
I have a real hard time with seeing people give lip service to this version of the world that doesn’t really exist, this version of the world where fat people aren’t sexual, where fat people don’t have good love in their lives, where fat people don’t deserve that. That’s not real. That actually is not true and I have since the get-go really rebelled against that message that a lot of our society really tries very hard to shove down our throats; that this doesn’t exist. That these people are doing it wrong, they’re having the wrong kind of bodies, they’re not conforming and therefore they don’t get any of the good stuff. That’s B.S.
We do it whether anybody wants us to do it or not and there’s absolutely no reason that that shouldn’t be reflected, that that shouldn’t be out there in the world.
More information regarding Hanne and her recent publications can be found on her website; www.hanneblank.com.