Tying Larger Bodies

This evening a gentleman from across the pond reached out to get some pointers regarding tying one of his partners for suspension who happens to be a larger woman. While writing my response I started thinking that there aren’t a ton of resources out there that I know of so I decided to share what I wrote to him (with a few edits) here in hopes that it could help other rope tops, bottom, switches, and hopefuls in their journey.  

The Rope

Thicker rope: Having a slightly thicker diameter rope can be both more comfortable as well as more flattering to the body. The difference between 6mm and 8mm can be huge when you’re putting pressure against the body. One of the aesthetic problems of the thinner rope is that against a large body it can seem even smaller than it already is. Personally, I don’t like tying with rope over 8mm regardless of material because I have smaller hands and it becomes awkward for me to manage 10 or 12mm rope.

Type: With all the types of rope out there picking what’s right for you and your partner isn’t a super simple process.  I LOVE the firmness of natural fiber against my body, however, there are times that nylon is a better choice. It really comes down to your personal preference but here is a pro and con (yes just one each though there are a ton of each I could list) for both when working with larger bodies. 

  • Natural:
    • Con: The lack of stretch in the rope may make it feel a lot harder/firmer than expected.
    • Pro: You don’t have to do nearly as much counter planning for the stretch of non-natural like nylon or MFP.
  • Nylon:
    • Con: OMG The stretch
    • Pro: Gives more with the body which can be more comfortable particularly for large bodies

Upline specifically: As for your uplines, that depends on your acceptable risk profile. I have absolutely used jute in suspensions of larger people (including myself) but I’ve also used nylon uplines with a jute or hemp body harness. Normally this is because I find the nylon moves smoother while I’m lifting, adjusting, and bringing a bottom down since there is less friction. This is a major factor for me because I’m short and getting leverage is sometimes difficult if I’ve got a ton of friction on the line. Think about what you’re doing (gently lifting, dynamic movements, etc), the manufacturing process of the rope (fibers spun together vs continuous fiber), and condition of your rope (is it brand new or has it seen better days? if the later you may not want to be using it regardless of the size of the bottom!) and then make your own decision.

Batwoman and Poison Ivy playing a little cops & robbers!
R: runningaemok M: _Subtle_ P: -CableGuy-

The Ties

Changing from two to three wraps can absolutely help make something more comfortable/sustainable whether the bottom has extra pounds or just a lower pain tolerance. Another thing that I find really helps is the use of additional attachment points.

  • Examples:
    • Attach from both sides of a hip harness rather than just the center because this changes the way the weight is spread through the harness.
    • Add additional points: Instead of doing just chest and hips consider adding in points at around the torso, thigh, calf, and ankle. This allows for the weight to be spread across the area instead of JUST the pelvis and ribcage.

Another thing that I can’t stress enough is to communicate with the bottom as you’re tying and encourage them to tell you specifically how things are feeling. Yes, this may mean your first suspension or too is more rope lab than strictly sexy fun times but it can make a huge difference. This is because the placement of ropes you use on someone who doesn’t have a lot of excesses flesh may feel dramatically different to someone who is more robust. Personally, I can’t stand waist ropes that actually sit AT my waist. They squish my fat in ALL the wrong ways. I prefer them to be more centered between my hips and belly button. I would much rather lift my tummy a bit to make sure it hits in a good spot than suffer in a bad way and have to come down way earlier than me or my top want.

Carabiners will make your life and your partners experience SO much better. While I’m very confident in my skills as a bottom and have worked hard to become more comfortable in my body it can be downright humiliating in a negative way to feel like you’re being hoisted like a beached whale. It’ll yank me out of or completely eliminate any chance of happy ropy time for me. This is where carabiners come in! With the addition of extra lift points, adding carabiners at the ring (or whatever you’re suspending from) and/or the body can allow for a more fluid lift motion.

Positioning is also something that can make/break my ropespace. I find that if I’m concerned at all about the way the rope looks on me a face down suspension just won’t work. It may be amazingly comfy but I’ll be so stuck in my head I won’t be able to enjoy. Why? Because gravity is a bitch and I’ve got a lot of mass. Simple doing a side or face up suspension can alleviate the feeling like all of my bits are being extra large and exaggerated thanks to rope+gravity.

USE YOUR BODY! I’m short (5’2.5″ if I stretch) which means MOST of my bottoms are taller than me. This becomes a challenge regardless if they are heavier than me or not. One thing that I’ve found has helped a ton is actually using my body to help in adjustments. It could be squatting down as I pull the upline so that I can get a more fluid lift by using my body weight or bracing my bottom against me while I adjust. These not only allow for more connection with me and my bottom but it also helps make things smoother when I’m transitioning or adjusting my partner.

Additional Resources

For some additional resources, I recommend checking out these humans on Fetlife:

  • Cynna who though I haven’t attended her classes (she’s on my bucket list) is a badass bottom and rigger with some excellent insight for typing lots of body types.
  • _Rae_ A women I absolutely respect and admire who happens to be a badass rope person
  • JackHandcock One of my go-to male rope peoples (specifically he ties a lot of guys)

For specific reading I recommend:
EvieVane‘s book Better Bondage for Every Body. Evie worked with some amazing people in the community to give a really accessible and helpful resource. You can find it here!

In Leather and Rope


Disclaimer: Rope play is Edge Play and has risk involved. Before jumping into the deep end learn about the risks of various types of rope play, ways to mitigate and prevent some of the common concerns, and work with someone who can literally and figuratively show you the ropes. I’m a huge fan or RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) and PRICK (Personal Responsibility in Consensual Kink) and ask that you remember that I am only responsible for the choices I and my partners take in our play. 

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