ENLIGHTENED AND TOLERANT and diversity-embracing as Seattle culture might be, our heavier citizens still deserve more social acceptance. And dates. "If you're a 300-pound girl, and you walk into the Down Under, chances are you're going to be pointed at a lot and laughed at," says Daniel McKay, who runs BBWNorthwest.com with his wife, Deven. Because lonely hearts come in all shapes, the organization sponsors monthly "size-friendly" parties, where big gals and the men who love them can come together. (Gatherings alternate between venues in Tacoma and Kenmore; next up is a Mardi Gras party on Saturday, Feb. 21.)
Pennie Leigh Breadmore, a single mom from Mill Creek, went to her first BBW event, the Boo-bash, in October 2000, when, she says, "I was at my highest weight. And I had a blast."
Unlike other Big Beautiful Women groups around the country, which tend to have a pretty sexual bent, BBWNorthwest is intended to create a safe, respectful environment for meeting people. "We're not prudes," says McKay. "Consenting adults can do whatever they like. But we're trying to foster real relationships." Three marriages have taken place since the group was founded in July of 2000. Says Breadmore: "I have met a couple of the fetish guys, but very minimal. Usually they're just guys who enjoy a woman with curves."
Those kind of guys aren't necessarily easy to find in the Belltown club scene. "There's still somewhat of a stigma attached to men who prefer a fuller-figured woman," says BBW participant Ann Heath. "They will not seek them out in the general public, but they will look for them at these events."
Heath, a longtime Microsoft employee, says she was drawn to BBW two years ago in order "to meet more people? professional, self-supporting. It's not usual to see a fat person in my industry." For her, BBW is "a safe and protected environment." Though she notes, "It's not always going to work for me. We have to go out in the real world sometimes, too."