Sex & Relationships

Feederism: Cramming Yourself with Food Is the Latest Sexual Fetish to Sweep the Nation

We've all had fantasies linked to oral pleasures. Now, increasing numbers of people are making those fantasies central to their sexual experience.

Most people have some issues involving food, and many of us are forever trying to lose weight in the hopes it will make us sexier. So, there’s probably nothing more socially subversive you could do in America in 2010 than to gain weight on purpose.

While everyone is freaking out about the obesity epidemic, the idea of purposeful, joyous gluttony -- eating a whole box of Twinkies and making that aren’t-you-jealous?-mmmm-sound -- is harrowingly rebellious. That’s one of the things that makes feederism—a sexual fetish based on either feeding someone a lot of food and watching them gain weight, or being the one who is fed/eats mass quantities to gain weight—absolutely fascinating.

The U.K. tabloid theDaily Mail recently reported on the tale of Donna Simpson, an American mom hoping to become the fattest person in the world, but the story craftily avoids the fetish part of the equation.

“It goes to show,” writes Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory, “that despite our desire to be titillated through shock and horror, there are certain sexual subcultures that are truly forbidden.” Clark-Flory also links to an excellent Bitch magazine analysis of both the intriguing and alarming elements of feederism.

So what is it that makes feeders and feedees rush in where those of us who are slaves to cultural norms fear to tread? There are several Web sites devoted to fat fetishism and feederism, including Dimensions magazine and Fantasy Feeder, but the most straightforward talk on the topic is to be found on a blog called Feedee World written—so it says—by three girls, ages 18-25.

Their “Why I’m a Feedee” page offers simple justifications for their behavior, such as: “I like to eat,” and “I want to get bigger,” with more detailed explanations that extol the glories of the softness and nourishing nature of the feminine. Their FAQ states that they are, in part, about fat acceptance: “Feederism and Fat Admiration are a crucial part of … ‘Fat Sexuality.’ For those unique individuals who had a few switches flipped in their heads at a young age, and think Big is Beautiful. And maybe Bigger is More Beautiful, and that’s OK. It’s part love, part physical attraction, part fetish, part paraphilia, and part eroticism. Did I mention it’s fun?”

Dr. Barnaby Barratt, sex therapist, educator and former president of AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists) has yet to have a patient who is a feedee or a feeder, but in discussing possible psychological elements of feederism he mentions several possibilities.

“I think oral gratification—whether we’re compulsively tied to it or averse to it—is a very big issue in almost everyone’s life. Everyone has a relationship with oral pleasure. Everyone has a relationship with eating, and its attendant sensations. It’s a fundamental human experience,” he explains.

“There are a hundred and one things that get complexly tied up to oral gratification, and to filling ourselves or not filling ourselves,” Dr. Barratt adds. “If you have an addictive personality, there’s a reason you end up with alcohol rather than heroin—and a lot of that has to do with how you relate to putting things in your mouth.”

Both the feeder and the feedee would likely have some kind of psychological issues around those sensations, but for the feedee would likely be, he says, a similar kind of abdication of power as with BDSM. “If you take it out of my power and tell me that I have to eat this box of donuts, in a certain sense, like in any dominance relationship in which I’m out of control, I can indulge myself because you’ve told me I’ve got to.”

(Ever been to a party where you had to eat some birthday cake to make the hostess happy? Torture, wasn’t it?)

“As for the fixation on getting bigger, from a psychological viewpoint,” he says, “one of the most remarkable things a human body does is tumesce and when you think about a penis that’s a couple of inches long that can suddenly get to be six inches long and a great deal thicker that’s a pretty remarkable bodily reaction! With the penis it’s more conspicuous than with clitoral and vaginal tumescence, but it is a thing some people can get fixated on.”

Watching a person get bigger can be surreal in films (think Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life). On the Dimensions Web site I came across a photo of Violet Beauregard, the famous “blueberry girl” from the first film version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

“And it’s fascinating to me that it’s in cartoons (and other children’s fare) that some of these sexual fantasies surface,” Dr. Barratt says.

One other way the getting-bigger fantasy can assert itself in early childhood is a fascination with pregnancy.

“Your mother’s belly gets bigger and bigger and bigger and then she may tell you something incomprehensible like, ‘There’s a baby inside,’ where you know damn well that what’s inside is the food you put in your mouth,” Dr. Barratt says. This can be very influential if your mother’s pregnancy occurs “at a critical psychological age, like three where these things are understandable but incomprehensible but very exciting at the same time.”

Dr. Barratt says he’s had a number of male patients who have mixed feelings regarding a partner’s pregnancy, which he sees as based in the conflicting feelings surrounding pregnancy in childhood.

The interesting thing about fetishes is the search for a cause. “No one who ever has a fetish can ever tell you why it is …but then actually if you think about it sexual desire as a whole is totally mysterious,” Dr. Barratt says. “Think about the last thing that turned you on, say, a guy in a leather jacket … Why him? Well, you like guys in leather jackets. Why? And inevitably when trying to say why anything is sexy, you find yourself saying, it just is!"

Liz Langley is a freelance writer in Orlando, FL.