Beyond Fat Acceptance

Now this one is more me!A website called Experience Project contains a personal history titled “I Am Fat and Have Been Almost My Whole Life.” The writer describes herself as five-foot-three, 298 pounds, and 13 years old. Her day starts with 3 tubs of ice cream, then Mom cooks her breakfast: toast, eggs, beans, pancakes, and two each of bacon sandwiches and sausage sandwiches. Then, for a mid-morning snack, she eats 6 slices of bread and butter.

Her 9,500-calorie lunch consists of 60 chicken nuggets, 5 servings of fast-food french fries, 5 gigantic, multiple-pattied hamburgers, soda, and a milkshake. The afternoon snack is a dozen donuts, and the evening meal two 16-piece buckets of fried chicken with french fries. And then of course there are the evening snacks. The teenager says that each of her parents weighs 400 pounds, and the home contains two refrigerators.

We can only hope this letter is a hoax, but have a sinking feeling that it is all too accurate. Undeniably, there are people who call themselves “gainers” and this is exactly the type of diet a gainer would require. This type of person embraces the obese condition and makes an active effort to become even larger. Fat acceptance morphs into fat pride and then into fat worship, and the people who are into this lifestyle say they belong to the “gaining community.”

Social Media for Gainers

Gainers award each other moral support through a wide variety of discussion forums, dating websites and blogs (we will not offer links because we don’t want to encourage the practice). But it is worth noting that all the fat worship websites cited in a 2010 news article still prosper. Gainers will say things like, “The only thing I love more than being fat is getting fatter.”

One man describes his life path as “a battle for the bulge,” and another apologizes to his followers for not posting pictures and descriptions of his holiday meals because “I didn’t really get to eat that much on Christmas day.” One site requires registration to even sneak a peek, because there are “an increased number of ‘tourists’ on the internet these days, looking to treat people and their interests as zoo exhibits of sorts…”

But many glorifiers of obesity are all too happy to have their activities revealed and, especially, their likenesses admired by fans. They resent the stereotype of laziness applied to fat people, because they work hard at maintaining and selling their obesity. A page reports, for instance, that…

Donna Simpson, a 42-year-old mother… raises money for her weekly $750 food budget through a web site where men pay to watch her eat.

Ms. Simpson is not the only professional in that field. Katy Winter of the Daily Mail reported on 29-year-old Denver resident Gabi Jones, a deliberate gainer who has accumulated 620 pounds of body weight on purpose and who says:

I think fat is art and I’m a masterpiece in the making.

Ms. Jones fills her personal website with photos and videos of herself, which purportedly “thousands of men” pay to enjoy, while sending her messages:

I want to feed you and get you bigger and more beautiful and treat you like a goddess.

Her story contains many more disturbing details which do not bear repeating here. Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that “gainerism” is not recognized as a separate illness, which it obviously is. Compulsive overeating and binge eating satisfy emotional needs even as they destroy physical health, but the weight gain is a secondary side effect to the eating. Overeating with the distinct and purposeful intention of becoming as obese as possible is not the same thing at all, but the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not contain a category of mental illness that recognizes “gainerism” as a pathology.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “I Am Fat and Have Been Almost My Whole Life,” Experienceproject.com, undated
Source: “Gainer blogs glorify obesity,” SMH.com.au, 04/16/10
Source: “The 600-pound woman who says: ‘I only want to get fatter!’,” DailyMail.co.uk, 10/03/14
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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Presentations

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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