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Heidi Switch is stripping back fatness stigmas in porn, one film at a time


TextMarie Southard Ospina

The adult performer is reshaping the popular correlation between size and pleasure, starring in Erika Lust’s ‘feminist porn’ films and being comfortable in her skin and sexuality

A few minutes into watching Heidi and the Doughboys, an adult film directed by Erika Lust, I was blown away by two things. Firstly, the namesake performer, Heidi Switch, was big. Five feet 10 inches tall and a size UK 20, she had a big belly, a big bum, visible stretch marks, cellulite, and body hair – characteristics rarely seen, let alone celebrated, in any form of media, porn included. Secondly, the plot (Heidi runs a bakery, but the bread is always ‘burnt, or quite simply, bad,’ until she and her two assistants – performers Romeo and Bel Gris – begin infusing the dough with their sexy bodily juices) as well as the sex being depicted had nothing to do with Heidi’s size. 

Switch, 33, hails from northern England and is tall, blonde, white, hourglass-shaped, and utterly Rubenesque. She has appeared in four of Lust’s films, Don’t Call Me A Dick (2017), Tips and Tricks for Suckin’ Dicks (2018), Don’t Touch The Art… Touch Me (2018), and Heidi and the Doughboys (2018). Indie director Lust is often celebrated for making ‘feminist porn.” On her blog, she writes that feminist porn is “about the emancipation of women and about them being able to give life to their ideas and fantasies as sexual beings like all of us, without feeling shame or prejudice.” I might describe feminist porn as prioritising, or at least equalising, female pleasure, ideally whilst celebrating all types of bodies. To Switch, it’s perhaps about the ‘emotional gaze,’ something she feels Lust captures extremely well. Whether the films follow people having one-night stands, group sex, or in long-term relationships, they centre feelings and experiences.

Switch also starred in the Channel 4 mini-series Mums Make Porn (2019), in which five mothers become dissilusioned with the sex portrayed in contemporary pornography and take it upon themselves to create something they deem better. (Heidi has a day job as a shop manager as well.)  With 8k fans on Instagram and the fact that Heidi and the Doughboys was one of Erika’s most successful short films of 2018, there’s no doubt that people are gravitating toward her work. No one person can, or should be expected to, be the crux of fat representation (in porn or otherwise) – but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a piece of the puzzle. “I’m just taking a tiny little step,” she explains. “I’m in the middle of this change, where if I would’ve had a body with small hips, and a big belly, and no boobs, I don’t know if I would be doing what I’m doing now?”

As a fat woman, I often search for porn featuring fat performers.  It’s been my experience that fat women in explicitly erotic films typically appear in ‘BBW’ (Big Beautiful Woman) or ‘fat fetish’ categories, wherein their fatness is the focal point of the narratives. In a world that so de-sexualises and stigmatises fat bodies, seeing people actively jiggling their bellies, or having their squashy rolls bitten into, or shaking their pudgiest bits in high-res, can be nothing short of empowering. Still, this isn’t the type of sex all fat people want to have or watch, and  it shouldn’t be the only type of sex we see fat porn stars in either. 

Here, Switch discusses navigating sex as a fat woman, fatness in porn, and the future of size diversity in the medium. 

Can you tell us a little about your early exploration of sexuality?

Heidi Switch: I started masturbating when I was 14 or 15, and I think that led to the progression of talking to people online. I never met up with anyone online; not for sex, anyway. Not at that age. (It’s the norm now!) But doing sexy things with people on camera (camming) was my first way of experimenting with my sexuality. I did a lot of camming one-on-one with people that I met in chat rooms because I was intrigued.I was interested in how other people reacted, not even just to me, but how people interacted in a sexual dialogue.

Do you think camming was a safer or more fulfilling way to explore sexuality than trying to navigate sex as a fat teen?

Heidi Switch: Absolutely. Doing webcam modelling, you’re basically just looking at yourself on a webcam and then you have a running commentary from viewers on the side. I call it flirting with the ether. It’s not a physical thing, I’m just an image on a screen, doing what feels good to me and my body. You can explore things that either scare you or you’re not too sure about. Getting to know my body, and a true feedback from people, made me realise that I had nothing to worry about at all. 

I’m pansexual/bisexual, so I have sex with men and women. But the first few times I had sex (aged 20 or 21) were with men. The way I was treated, objectified, and the language they were using, wasn’t their own but a product of society and the impact porn has on sex education. That made me really question who I was and what is sex.  Am I just this person with a fat ass? Now, I don’t mind being objectified if it’s within context and both parties are participating. 

How did you begin working with Erika Lust?

Heidi Switch: I was on a tube (porn) site maybe six years ago and found this amazing film. Fun and relatable, it had a female with a belly who was in charge, not in a dominant way, there was context to the story and she was giggly. I needed to find out who made it and it was Erika. From then on, I’ve been a huge fan and  I subscribed to her page, XConfessions, right away.

I’m comfortable in my sexuality (spending time with my body through camming helped with that), and so I sent them a message saying, ‘I don’t see anyone who looks like me. Would you consider me as a performer?’ We then did a Skype casting. They want to know why you want to be part of this thing, what your ethics and values are, whether they’re in line, which I think is so important. 

What has the experience been like so far?

Heidi Switch:  The feedback that I’m getting is all things that I wanted people to feel when they saw me on-screen. People are getting in touch to tell me, ‘Oh you look exactly like me,’ or, ‘Oh you have hairy armpits, too,’ or, ‘I have spots on my bum as well,’ or, ‘I have stretch marks like that,’ or, ‘My orgasm face is just like yours.’ It’s really important to see yourself reflected and I’m not just there to be eye candy. I want to be there to show other people with bigger bodies that of course you can be sexual, confident in your body, and experience pleasure just like everybody else. 

Being on the film sets, I’m also helping the people behind the scenes learn as they’ve never considered how different it is being in a bigger body. So the director might say, ‘If you can, just sit on top of him and ride up and down so we can see (the penis)  going in and out,’ but I’ve got a huge bum. You’re not going to see it. Or you may worry about getting on top of someone or sitting on someone’s face. The latter used to make me feel completely self-conscious, but I have learned that if you’re having sex with someone and they respect you, it’s not going to be bad. You just have to laugh about it. Also, when you’re in a bigger body, you might not be as physically capable as someone you see on screen with their legs behind their head. 

Do you feel like it’s important to see fat people represented in porn outside of fetish categories?

Heidi Switch: The reason I wanted to work with Erika is because she doesn’t list the ‘type’ of person on a physical level like ‘big cock’ or ‘BBW’ (Big Beautiful Woman). She categorises them with ‘occasions’ or ‘themes’ of what’s actually happening within the dialogue [like ‘outdoor,’ ‘quickies,’ ‘role-play,’ or ‘romance’]. I didn’t want to be categorised as ‘BBW’ just a human being. 

Are we likely to see more size diversity in porn going forward? 

Heidi Switch: We’re still in a physical, aesthetic age of porn but things are changing. Erika’s work is influencing so many people (she has 80k Twitter followers and XConfessions’s account has over 18k). Porn deeply influences people at such a subconscious level that it changes how we see one another,  how things are sold, how people dress, and how people talk to each other. We’re just on the cusp now of understanding that sex isn’t just about how a body looks, but also about how emotions take place. I hope we see more bigger people, fat men, small penises, and fatter women with different body shapes, not just hourglass. As for me, I love being fat and I want to share that.

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