Plus-Size Parties Make Living Large Comfortable

At a recent, weekend-long, "plus-size party" in Connecticut, one reveler wore a T-shirt that read: "Skinny girls are evil."

As women in bikinis and men in swim trunks lounged near the pool, others danced to music with lyrics like, "You a big girl, baby, strut your stuff for the fellows like me who can't get enough."

The message at this party was clear: Big is beautiful.

Thirty percent of adults in America -- that's about 59 million people -- are now considered obese. As the nation's waistline grows, so do the number of plus-size parties, where large men and women confidently show off their curves.

A Place to Feel Sexy and Accepted

Guests at the party in Connecticut said these plus-size parties allow them a place to feel comfortable with themselves and with each other.

"We can dress up any way we want to, and we are looked at as sexy," said partygoer Raqui Hernandez.

Kelly, a male party attendee, said, "People here are attracted to people of size."

The word is spreading about these gatherings through Internet chat rooms, Web sites and magazines like Figure, which celebrate "people of size." Even cable access is getting in on the action with programs such as "The Big Girls Show."

A mother and daughter from suburban Washington attended a recent dance in Rockville, Md., hosted by the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

"For every fat woman that's going to a dance tonight, there's 50,000 of them in Middle America that don't have a dance to go to," said mom Cathy Grinels.

A Growing Movement

The Maryland partiers came from miles around to keep the momentum of this movement going.

At these parties, B.H.M. -- big, handsome men -- and B.B.W. -- big, beautiful women -- as they're called, are looking for more than just sex in the city, they're looking for acceptance.

Meg Rock, another Maryland partygoer, says that gatherings like this one offer welcome relief from the judgmental looks and comments many overweight people say they are frequently subjected to.

"They don't have to feel like they're being looked up and down for the wrong reasons or that they're being looked up and down in disgust," Rock said.

But plus-sizers aren't just partying -- they're posing for calendars and conquering the runway. Stylish new fashions catering to plus-sizers are giving them the confidence to try things such as swimming in public or taking a cruise specifically for big men and women. In November, Carnival Cruise Lines will hold its largest cruise for plus-sizers ever.

Finding Big Love

A welcome side effect to all this socializing? Romance for couples of all shapes and sizes.

For Denise and Stanley Washington, what happened was marriage.

Denise said she had pretty much given up on meeting Mr. Right.

"I gave up on that dream a long time ago," she said. "And then one night he just walked in and that was it: You know, everything changed."

Her husband, Stanley, added, "I tell guys if they like big girls, don't be afraid to come to parties. You never know what might happen."

And for anyone who is afraid of change or has given up, Cathy Grinels has some advice on living large.

"Get your big butt out of bed and come up here and shake it on the dance floor," she said. "You know, move, be a person, be full of life."

ABC News' Andrea Canning originally reported this story for "Good Morning America" Weekend edition.

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