Somewhere between Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” and Nicki Minaj’s” Anaconda,” having a full figure became IN again. And while a sprawling demographic of admirers already exists for those with shapely figures, some are into more than just that end result. There are some who want to help others arrive at the point.
Welcome to the world of “Gaining,” a sexual fetish that celebrates bloated bellies and the process of fattening up. Also known as “Feederism,” the trend falls into the broader category of fat fetishes, though it is unique in one distinct way. It’s not just a meaty figure those in the gaining community find erotic; it’s the journey to obesity that really gets this group off.
It’s hard to gauge just how many members the gaining community has, as no official statistics on the subject exists, nor is it a topic commonly seen in academic literature. But there are other telling signs that the fetish has a dedicated group of followers. Before going further into the subject, however, some relevant vocabulary should be introduced.
“Gainers,” or “feedees” are the individuals putting on the weight. Often, they do so with the help of an “encourager,” or “feeder.” Much of the time, the goal for both parties is for the gainer to achieve a “ball belly,” a big round belly, without putting on too much weight elsewhere on the body. Some take it to extremes. There is a subgroup of gainers called “Submissive gainers,” who allow a dominant “encourager” to take control and decide how much they will eat, and how much weight they will put on.” While “feedees” are most often women, there are also number of men out there, many of them gay, who find putting on weight erotic.
These are just the terms needed to begin a dialogue about gaining. The vocabulary extends into a deeper web of sexual stunts most have never heard of. “Bloating” refers to the practice of expanding the belly by ingesting a large amount of food or liquid. Often this is done with water so it doesn’t result in actual weight gain. “Paddling” is another gainer favorite where individuals place cushions or other items under their clothes to give the appearance of being fat. “Squashing” tends to be a group hit. This is when one gainer uses his or her weight to squash another (usually an “encourager”). Finally, there’s the uncomfortable art of “inflation,” or forcing air into the body to cause the belly to expand. This can be done by pumping air into either the mouth or the anus.
Gaining on the Web
A simple Google search reveals a slew of videos demonstrating the art of gaining on YouTube. One video depicts a woman struggling to button her pants over her jiggling, round belly. While it doesn’t exactly scream classic entertainment, that hasn’t stopped the clip from getting nearly 600,000 hits. Some of its comments read, “Ohh sexy,” “You look absolutely hot, God I hope you have a boyfriend because I would take you in a heartbeat” and “I wish I had that belly.”
Gaining has expanded into other social media outlets as well. The hashtag #feedee has been used in over 5,000 posts on Instagram. The Facebook group “Feeders, Gainers and Encouragers” has over 1,100 members. Twitter user Sydney Screams (@SyndeyScreams4u) has over 13,300 followers. Her profile reads, “Nerdy #PlusSize, #Plumper, #Fetish & XXX model in Orlando.” One of her tweets from October 2 reads, “Treat me to a birthday meal by sending a gift card to one of my fav restaurants! #GainingWeight #feedee.” A number of websites dedicated to the cause also exist, such as gainingfetish.com and fantasyfeeder.com.
Meet the Gainers
One female “feedee” wrote about her experience in a post for XOJane: “I love eating very caloric, rich foods and I practically squeal with glee if I see numbers on the scale climb. I like being called piggy, requested to oink and being accused of being gluttonous and lazy.”
The writer went on to call the fetish “the highest form of intimacy I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
Another female familiar with the lifestyle (though not a gainer herself) writes, “The feeder obtains a sense of power and dominance through the act of feeding and subsequently being responsible for the change in their partner’s body, the end goal often resulting in severe obesity, loss of mobility, and inability to perform even the most mundane life tasks without their partner’s assistance.”
The writer’s opinion elevates our discussion on gaining from one of sexual fetish to that of sexual submission.
Yes, gaining is for the most part associated with free choice and a willingness to put on weight. But does that eliminate it from the world of BDSM? Does purposely helping one gain weight to the point of immobility carry with it some sadistic undertones? And does the feedee’s willingness to render herself immobile not constitute masochism?
Take the case of Donna Simpson, who holds the Guinness World Record for the “World’s Heaviest Mother.” Simpson, who once topped the scales at 600 pounds, entered into the lifestyle alongside her chubby-chasing partner. For years, Simpson and her partner were happy living as gainer and encourager. Then the relationship started to sour, and the two broke up after five years together. That’s when Simpson was forced to reconsider her lifestyle.
She wrote on her website (which has since been taken down), “I recently split with my fiancée of five years and moved with my two children back to my hometown in Ohio. This life-changing move made me realize something important. The health and welfare of my family was always my priority and they were well taken care of by my ex. Now that I have sole responsibility of taking care of my children, I must drastically change my lifestyle.”
The plus-sized model added, “It’s fine to gain weight when you have a partner who will help feed you and take care of everything around you. But that’s between two adult people who make the choice. I realized that I couldn’t expect my kids to do that for me.”
Prior to the announcement, Simpson had reported, “I am proud of my weight. It’s who I am. I tried to be thin and it left me miserable and unhappy…. I admit there are some things I can’t do and need help with like getting dressed or having a bath but I wouldn’t change anything.”
At her heaviest, Simpson relied on a mobility scooter to get around and wore a size XXXXXXXL.
Sensual… Or Not?
Gaining often falls under the umbrella of fat fetishes. But are gainers like Donna Simpson merely “fat”? George Pranzarone, of the department of psychology at Roanoke College, has categorized gaining as a subtype of morphophilia, which he defines as when, “The bodily characteristics of the partner are selectively particularized, prominent, or essential as a prerequisite to sexuoerotic arousal and the facilitation or attainment of orgasm.”
If “selectively particularizing” someone’s body to the point of developing a handicap doesn’t sound sexy to you, you’re not alone. Most don’t have a problem with those who consider plus-sized individuals sexy.
But the consequences attached to the gaining lifestyle can distract from this notion and work to distinguish it. And maybe that’s where gaining belongs. Maybe that’s where it will stay. Left to exist within a fetish world all on its own and apart from all the rest.