Lusting for Fat: Gainers Come Out of the Closet

He goes by the name "Git," a 22-year-old man from Kentucky who is on a quest: to weigh as much as he possibly can.

The photos of him as a skinny 18-year-old college student are startlingly different than the love-handled, 245-pound man that he has become.

"Lately I've been infatuated with the physics of my belly," he writes on his blog, Gitbigger. "I'm starting to notice how it moves with me, how it gets in the way, and it makes me daydream about how it will feel when I'm bigger."

"The more attention I pay to it, the easier it becomes to imagine sizes like 300, 400. I like to think I don't romanticize it, but I can't help lusting over those sizes."

Those who are obsessed with gaining weight are known as "gainers," a once-underground proclivity that is squeezing its way out of the closet as the voices for fat acceptance grow louder.

Sometimes, the practice is sexual – so-called "feederism" -- when the gainer is aided by a "feeder" who takes on more and more control as the gainer becomes physically incapacitated.

They seek each other out online with acronyms like BBW (Big Beautiful Woman); SSBHM (Super Sized Big Handsome Man) and FFA (Female Fat Admirer).

An array of online blogs like Feeder Fantasy, Dimensions Magazine and Feed or Get Out extol the virtues of getting bigger.

"The days of justifying our fatness by lying and saying we have a mysterious genetic or metabolic disorder are over," says the Bigger Fatter Blog. "We now freely admit to and embrace what the fat haters would call gluttony. We are fat because we eat huge amounts of food and we like it."

And, as major health experts have noted lately, they say, "fat people are now the overwhelming majority."

One fat acceptance blogger wrote: "I'm tired of all of us being treated like circus side shows."

AnnMarie, who runs a BBW web site told ABCNews.com she is not a gainer, but defends the privacy of a plus-size world.

"We're just large people trying to navigate a world that is not built for us, in social lives that are set up to belittle and degrade us, and we try to maintain happiness, dignity, love, jobs, families," she wrote. "We're only different because we aren't apologizing for who we are. We're only different because others want to keep making us feel that way."

The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance also condemns the practice of so called "feederism," because it coerces a person to become larger.

In a special report, the celebrity magazine In Touch Weekly looks at what it calls Hollywood's "big new obsession" and the perks of being overweight: "fame and fortune."

Hollywood, Reality Shows Celebrate Fat

From Oscar nominee Gabourney Sidibe to the stars of reality shows like "One Big Happy Family" and "Dance Your Ass Off," celebrities are cashing in on their size.

"Biggest Loser" contestants -- some of whom have been accused of gaining weight to get on the show -- are paid $750 a week and can get up to $50,000 for being runners-up.

Some of their aspiring contestants were even accused of gaining weight just to qualify for the show.

Those who gain weight for pleasure, especially sexual gratification have been around for a long time, according to New York's Museum of Sex curator Sarah Forbes.

"It's just that it's gaining more attention in the mainstream," she said. "One reason is the Internet has propelled a lot of it to grow. It's comforting to know that 'I am not the only one.'"

Forbes was co-curator for the 2007 exhibition, "Kink: Geography of the Erotic Imagination," which included a display on gainers and their natural partners, so-called "feeders."

The exhibition included artwork of weight gain fantasies, as well as examples of body inflation, rubber inflatable clothing, balloons and other fantasies.

Its creator, Katharine Gates, author of the book "Deviant Desires," says the practice of "growth" may be connected to ancient fertility cults and could be a healthy alternative to the repression of appetites and female bodies.

The gainer-feeder relationship is really a "metaphor of arousal," according to Forbes.

"Some people watch someone blow up a balloon and think it's the most erotic thing they have seen in their life," she said. "You watch a woman blow up like a balloon bigger and bigger and anticipate when it's going to blow up. It mimics the process of arousal."

Gainers rely on "feeders" to help them grow, according to Forbes, and their "kink"

"Somebody feeds you to this point where you are bigger and bigger and getting to the point where you are so large, you actually can't take care of yourself. It's a dependence and power dynamic."

Many don't even rely on contact for orgasm, rather the "idea" of body growth, she said. "It's about the mental stimulation."

"Imagination is the most potent for your sexuality," said Forbes. "Everything in the universe is a turn-on for someone."

But Robert Dunlap, a Los Angeles sexologist, and director of the Documentary Channel film, "Xaviera Hollander: the Happy Hooker," said people are always looking for the "next big fad."

Weight gain could be looked at as a "model for success in these economic times," he said. "Look at the guys on Wall Street who say, 'I can eat and play.'"

He had several clients who were "severely obese" and had no trouble with their sex lives. "They found a way of doing it just fine. Here is where size matters."

Dunlap also casts no judgment.

"My clients are amazing," he said. "I learn so much. To quote from [Albert] Kinsey, 'The only unnatural sex act is the one you can't perform.' "

Kinky Fat Sex Could Jeopardize Health

But some doctors and therapists do worry about the effect weight gain will have on a gainer's health, especially in the midst of a national obesity epidemic.

Chris Reynolds, a licensed professional counselor who practices in Anchorage, Alaska, said he had two patients – a couple into gaining – who were seeking help for other reasons.

"I may feel it's alarming and concerning and need to mention it, but if it doesn't become their goal, the therapy is not about my agenda," he said.

"It wasn't disturbing to them and they didn't come in complaining," said Reynolds.

In gainers and feeders, body dysmorphia and sexual obsession are "interwined," he said. "You can't separate the two."

"We can attach our arousal template to anything we want, to shoes, to a certain shape of the face or breasts," he said. "These people are attached to a body with a lot of fat on it."

As for Git, he seems obsessed with his own body, according to his blog.

"I love how when I lean to one side, I feel a roll form around my love handle," he writes. "How my upper back is getting softer and is beginning to naturally fold over the small of my back. How all my pants' waistbands are permanently folded on the front. I love it…I want more."

Reynolds said the pleasure in gaining weight could also demonstrate a need for "power and control and competence and seeing the self as a larger and more powerful person."

Many other cultures value the larger physique, he said.

But Keith Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, worries about gainers like Git.

"This guy is trying to gain a lot of weight by eating, unfortunately, a really bad diet," he said. "This is not the guy who is going to dive into a salad."

By gaining only fat rather than muscle tissue, or a "big belly," gainers put their health at risk.

"I know it's different strokes for different folks, but my second concern is he really doesn't want to change," said Ayoob.

Obesity eventually impedes blood flow and makes sex physically more difficult, according to Ayoob.

"The fetish may be in our heads, but the plaque is going to be in his arteries," he said. "He might think this is cool, but his body is keeping score."

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