"So…can I feed you?"
If directed at me in a typical context, like, say, while at my estranged Italian aunt's dinner party, then the answer would normally be "fuck yes." Food is exciting. The act of feeding and being fed elicits conversation, forges bonds, and creates community. It also just tastes really good.
But beneath the weight of the solid 6'0" dude on a disheveled mattress in the middle of fucking nowhere Brooklyn, that was probably the last thing I was expecting to hear. Dave was an OkCupid third date, who had, up until that point, seemed too good to be true. He was tall, and relatively handsome with an appropriately groomed beard. Dave had nerdy hobbies like pinball and his taste in music and movies teetered on inspiring. I had just spent a Saturday evening behind the booth of his DJ set, going shot for shot on whiskey and exchanging witty repartee.
Well. Three hours and several beverages later, our whiskey fueled passion found us tangled in a laughable embrace. A bead of his sweat dropped dangerously close to my mouth once or twice but he was funny and his beard smelled like soap, so I didn't mind. But suddenly, his seemingly forward demeanor looked sheepish. He wanted to "try something." Could he feed me? He wanted to know.
The sweaty, drunken pieces of the evening suddenly came together in a horrifyingly clear mosaic. This was it. A feeder, in the flesh.
As a cute and political fat girl who likes to use the internet, I stumbled upon the term in my cyber travels. Also known as a "fat appreciator" or "chubby chaser," feeders experience erotic pleasure from the act of feeding their partner, or 'feedee' to the point of extreme fullness and discomfort. The internet has done monumental things for the fat appreciator or potential feedee. Chat forum sites such as Fantasy Feeder provide a welcoming environment for individuals to share sexual fantasies, weight gain progression, and personal insights on the shared fetish. The movement is also largely male driven, comprised of men looking to feed women, and these online spaces allow men to explore their taboo desires discretely. Webcam shows are often a popular medium through which feeders are able to satiate their desires without so much as lifting a finger. The feedees featured in these webcam shows are often paid to gorge themselves on camera and engage in 'belly play', during which the individual erotically touches their growing stomach; some are even directly sent food and gifts from their online admirers.
Though those who ascribe to it sometimes describe this fetish as a 'sexual orientation', the psychological underpinnings of the predilection are reminiscent of, if not within, the realm of BDSM culture. 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 an inability to perform even the most mundane life tasks without their partner's assistance. Feedees often feel a great degree of agency in their decisions to gain weight. Fatness is an obvious taboo within our culture; actively deciding to gain weight, is, therefore, the ultimate act of agency and transgression.
It's hard to sit back and try to analyze a fetish when it's not personal to you. Sex is inherently weird. People find a myriad of things erotic, like peeing in gag bound gimps' mouths and wearing mascot costumes, so really how far fetched is a food fetish, after all? Maybe it's psychological, or maybe it's just a preference. As long as both parties are into it and enter the sexual foray with an awareness of the consequences, there is little that anyone can do to stop them. So have fun, I guess.
But how could I not take this personally? Suddenly I was kicking myself for all of the instances that I had spoken excitedly about food, or had slightly obsessively harped on the incredible properties of bread yeast. Then I thought about that not so long ago time at the bar when he had squeezed my stomach in this long, drawn out, sensual way. In my inebriated glory I thought that maybe it could be cute, or affectionate. Now, it just seemed kind of fucked up.
I couldn't help but take it personally because suddenly my body shape and my fascination with food had turned into an inherently sexual entity. I was no longer Julia who likes to bake and eat oysters and tell shitty jokes. I was a fuckable fat girl, beckoning Dave to feed me.
When I said no, withdrawing from his sweaty embrace, Dave began apologizing profusely. "I'm still attracted to you," he offered. "It just seemed like you were into it."
OK, I get it. I'm a fat girl. Cool. In times of quiet financial desperation, I've even entertained the idea of sensually eating Oreos for a quick thirty bucks. But now faced with the question, I just was not down to turn my favorite hobby into a point of sexual submission.
Soon after the incident, I stopped seeing Dave and put a series of emoji knives next to his name in my phone. But I wonder what would have happened next had I actually said yes. Would he have slunk to his closet and whipped out a big ass box of vintage '87 Twinkies, expecting me to eat the radioactive, cream-filled phallus cakes whole? Maybe I should have said yes; maybe he would have taken me to Oyster Bar and would have paid to watch me slurp back dozens of my favorite briny aphrodisiacs. But I doubt the latter would have happened, seeing as he was more of a stay at home, Seamless kind of dude, who ordered more wraps than I cared to remember.
This first appeared on MUNCHIES in July 2014.