While channel surfing one evening, I came across a programme about ‘strange attractions’, or something like that. It’s about people who are attracted to people who are a bit different, in some way or another, to the rest of mainstream society. The subject that evening was men who are attracted to very, very large women. The men were the feeders or encouragers, and the women were the feedists or gainers. Of course the opposite also exists, i.e. women who are attracted to, and have feeder-feedist relationships with large men, as well as same-sex feeder-feedists, but this show, and one or two others I ended up watching, were about men feeding women.
The attraction, from the feedists’ side, is the size of the woman – the bigger the better. They love the abundance of flesh, especially the large, heavy belly and, contrary to societal norms, find the massive folds of flesh beautiful and sexy. Philippe Gouamba, one of the men interviewed, maintained that the biggest turn-on for him was to be able lift his partner’s belly.
From the woman’s side, the turn-on is in the eating of the food, and also in being fed, being taken care of, and in gaining weight. In some cases, they become completely dependent on the man. They need the man to wash them and perform all their intimate tasks. The man goes off to work, usually, while the woman stays at home and works at gaining weight. For some of the women, though not for all, the goal is to become immobile. They want to become so fat that they cannot move. It is their life goal. Once they are trapped on their beds, held captive by their own bodies, they will have made their dreams come true.
I have been fascinated and puzzled and, yes, probably, obsessed with this whole way of thinking since I saw the first programme.
In the first programme I watched, the woman, Donna Simpson, talks about how she can’t wait to become immobile. The idea of being unable to move, and to have her partner do everything for her, she says, is a huge turn-on for her. When the programme was being filmed, she could still move about, albeit with great difficulty, and in one scene they get dressed up and go out for the evening – in search of a woman with whom to have a three-way. They cannot agree on a woman – she likes thin women and he likes fat women – and so head back home alone, just the two of them.
In another show, a young woman in her twenties is eating her way to her goal: to weigh 300 lb. She is not certain yet whether she would like to be immobile. For now, the goal is merely to reach 300 lb. To reach this end, she fills herself with high carb and high fat foods, usually greasy, cheesy fast foods. For her, part of the turn-on is in feeling very full – she loves the feeling of her stomach being distended – and so indulges also in the occasional extreme eating.
Extreme eating is a fetish not only for the eaters or feedists. There are also those, often skinny people, who are turned on by watching women gorge themselves. In this episode, the girl’s boyfriend prepares four litres of choc-mint ice cream – mushes it so that it is liquid, like a giant milkshake – which he will pour it into a funnel, which hangs above her, and she will suck it from the tube that is attached to the funnel. They have a cameraman on hand to record the extreme eating so that other fetishists will be able to pay to watch a young woman, sitting in her underwear in the semi-dark, suck four litres of ice cream into her body. She says she can’t wait to feel full to bursting.
I watch in horror, fascination and mounting nausea as she swallows the ice cream. It goes down in a matter of minutes. When she is done, she looks almost drugged in her euphoria, he eyes glazed over, a lazy, chocolate coated smile fixed to her pretty face. I love ice cream, and am not shy to reach for a second helping on occasion … but … four litres?!
Just because someone is immobile does not mean she cannot work – her body may no longer allow her to move from the house, but her brain is still intact, and there are many jobs that one can do from home. The women in the documentaries, though, don’t work, other than at reaching their goal by eating and eating, and those who do, work at selling their bodies. They sit on their beds in front of their laptops, and chat with men who are fascinated with obese women. For extra money they remove their clothes and allow the men to feast, visually, at their naked bodies. In addition, they pose, either naked or in their underwear, for photographs that are also uploaded to their websites.
What I found interesting, coming from a history of Jane Fonda, Spandex, and ‘go for the burn’, is how very comfortable the women are with their size, and how much they love their bodies. They get naked for the camera, for themselves, for others, and grab hold of their own flesh, squeezing it and kneading it, and get real pleasure from seeing themselves naked. So many women – women of all shapes and sizes – hate their bodies, agonise over small imperfections, while these women, who clearly do not conform to the societal norm of beauty, love what they look like.
What happens when it all ends?
A Channel 4 documentary, ‘My big fat fetish’, focuses on Goddess Patty. Goddess Patty is an SSBBW – a super sized big beautiful woman. She has her own website, where she is described as a ‘600 lb super goddess’ and a ‘600 lb squashing queen’, and where you can see her ‘squashing, eating, feeding’ and doing some ‘kinky bondage’. You have to be a member to enjoy all of this – I didn’t sign up.
Various videos on YouTube and DailyMotion show her wobbling her belly, getting up and trying to walk and, in one video, trying to move, I don’t know where to or to do what, on her bed. She wasn’t able to get into an upright position without assistance and, even then, it appeared to be mission impossible.
The documentary focuses on her everyday life, which paints a picture not remotely as glamorous as her internet persona. She is pretty much confined to her bed, which dominates the main room of a small, dingy house she shares with her son.
At some stage, Goddess Patty was ‘the queen of the gaining world’ . She had the lovers who enjoyed her bounty to take care of her. As time passed, and Patty grew older, they moved on. Now the men in her life are her son and those who want to be squashed: the men who pay to have her sit on them.
Her son is an attractive, soft-spoken man, who appears to be in his late twenties. His life revolves around taking care of his mother: helping her up, helping her wash, helping her to the toilet, cleaning up after her, feeding her … In his own words ‘It’s like having a baby’. He also says that he feels resentful at times. And why would he not feel resentful? What chance does he have of living a normal life? He has to be around her 24/7, in case she needs something and to make sure that she doesn’t fall. A fall would mean a fracture, and the logistics of managing a bone fracture of a 600 lb woman would be incomprehensible.
My internet searches revealed that the couple from the first documentary I watched, the 600 lb Donna Simpson and her fiancé, Philippe Gouamba, had split. They had been together for five years and had two children. Single now, Donna would have to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of her two children on her own.
She has shut down her website, which earned her $90 000 a year, and has replaced it with a weight loss blog. She maintains that she does not want to become her children’s responsibility, and have them feed her and wash her.
And so this is the bit that puzzles me: what happens when the relationship ends? We know that all relationships end, either through break-up or death and so there is a good chance that the gainer, who has eaten herself (or himself) into immobility, will be left stranded, unable to even sit up on her (or his) own. Why would anyone want a life such as that?
There is a great big, beautiful, exciting, wonderful world out there, and you were born with a whole, strong, healthy body. You could do anything – anything. Why would you want to dedicate your life to eating until you cannot move, cannot do a single thing for yourself? Why would you want to eat until you have no privacy or dignity left? Why would you want to be so heavy that, should you become ill, the medics would first have to break the house down around you before they could take you to the hospital? Why would you want to eat until you become first the responsibility and then the burden of someone else, someone who didn’t ask for the job?
Sure, we all have the right to our own quirks and fetishes, and we have the right to be skinny, or muscle-bound, or overweight. Sure we have the right to believe what we want, do what we want, eat what we want. Sure, we all have rights. Sure. I get that. But by purposefully eating until you cannot move is eventually going to remove someone else’s rights. Like Goddess Patty’s son, who has no chance of meeting a partner, who has little or no opportunity of having a night out with friends, because he has to watch his mother every minute of the day.
I have scoured the internet and have come across various feedist or gainer sites. In their introductions, gainers explain why they like being large. One gainer writes ‘I want to be enormously obese – soft, wide, huge – and I want someone to revel in it with’ ().
Does it make you happy?
The gainers all appear to be very happy when they’re spooning mouthfuls of greasy food into their mouths, and they maintain that they are happy. They maintain that they are living life as they want to live it, and that they are very happy with the way things have turned out for them.
And maybe they are happy. Maybe chasing the goal of having the perfect body is hollow and superficial, narcissistic and, ultimately, useless, as we all age, well all grow a little wider and saggier, our muscles atrophy, and we must, eventually, mourn the loss of the perfect shape we once enjoyed.
However, the joy the gainers in the documentaries express as they tuck into a mountain of food or bare their breasts and bellies for the webcam cannot match the exhilaration on the faces of the youngsters on Too Fat for Fifteen – Fighting Back when they achieve something for the first time – their first long walk, their first 5 km run, their first swim. They have faced the fear, and they have done it anyway, they have struggled, they have cried, they have thought of giving up. But they didn’t give up. They did it. And they felt alive. They have tasted success, and they are inspired to push on and persevere. Their eyes sparkle, their faces glow. It was difficult, extremely difficult, but they did it. They challenged their bodies to do things that many young, slim, active people do not do. And the success tastes sweet.
Their success, and their perseverance and joy, inspire me. They make me weep. And, sometimes, they make me feel a little ashamed – I feel a bit disloyal if I’m tucking into a pasta and a glass of wine while watching these kids sweat and struggle through a challenge. I don’t feel inspired by watching someone sitting in front of a polystyrene take-out box, attacking the contents with a plastic fork and spoon.
I could be wrong but I think challenging your body to become fit and strong – not necessarily thin – holds more joy and reward than challenging your body to become so large and soft that you have to spend the rest of your days immobile, trapped on a bed, being fed and cleaned by others.
But if any gainers out there can help me understand the attraction of immobility, I would be very grateful.