These Young Women Are Gorging Themselves to Make Money as a "Gainer"
Sitting on a folding chair in her bathroom, her webcam aimed carefully just below her eyes, Miss Eve begins chugging two liters of Pepsi through a straw. The petite-framed 20-year-old holds her microphone to her stomach, recording the sounds of carbonation in her esophagus. Noisily, she fills herself up until her stomach starts to bloat. She stops, pushes on her inflated tummy and brings the microphone to her mouth, then belches. It's a little startling; she giggles.
The clip was recorded for her YouTube channel, Miss Eve, where she shares videos of stuffing herself with any high-calorie food she can find: cake, candy, burgers, weight-gain shakes. This burp video, which was recorded in October, now has more than 43,000 views.
Eve is now 21. She's up to 180 pounds, a roughly 70-pound leap from her starting point. For around $5 to $15, she offers videos with titles like "Custom Belly Inflation," "Cherry Cake Stuffing, Pt. 1~" and "Belly Button Pump Action" — hours of Eve eating, drinking and bloating.
Miss Eve, or Little Gainer Eve as she calls herself on her Tumblr page, is a gainer, or stuffer, someone who eats and gains weight for the sexual arousal of herself or others. She lives a life that's otherwise by the books: She has regular jobs, plays a lot of video games, writes and cooks. But she's grown a following of fans — nearly 8,000 on YouTube alone — by posting videos of herself eating pounds of food, bloating her stomach, burping, hiccuping and poking and prodding herself.
A boyfriend at the time convinced Eve to start gaining. "There was something erotic about eating in front of him," she writes on her website. "I received more pleasure from eating gross and fatty foods, like McDonald's. He'd make fun of me, call me a fatass, and I loved it."
Both gainers and their fans, sometimes called "encouragers," fit in the umbrella of feederism, a fetish in which individuals turn weight gain and binge-eating into an erotic experience. And many are making money from it.
Reenaye Starr, an adult Web model, runs a website called BBWBuffet.com (BBW is short for "big beautiful women"). The site is filled with photos and videos of SSBBW — super-sized big beautiful women — engaging in traditional sex, sure, but also gainer-specific fantasies like face-stuffing (gorging on food) and belly play. Starr sells memberships for $24.95 a month. And on video Web stores like Clips4Sale (NSFW), fans buy her short videos for $5. Starr's sites are so popular, last year they grossed $70,000.
"I have surpassed my goal weight at this point," Starr told Mic. "I am 5 feet 3 inches and 427 pounds currently. My goal weight originally was 350, but it is a lifestyle of indulgence and I love to indulge. My current ideal weight in fantasy is about 500 pounds, but in reality, I wouldn't like to be more than 450 pounds."
Online communities, such as the gainer forums on Reddit and websites like Starr's BBW Buffet, have made feeder-feedee relationships and contact easier. There's a wide variety of feederism content on the Web. Fetish websites like StufferDB.com boast thousands of links to photos and videos of gainers, and subreddits operate as channels to encourage stuffing and continuing to grow.
"Some research suggests that most interactions related to feederism take place online, via online communities and forum discussions," Kelly Suschinsky, a Queen's University psychology researcher, told Mic. "Some sites offer the opportunity for visitors to send food to people who will eat the food on camera; this opportunity to engage in feederism behavior was likely limited before. If feederism is a learned or acquired behavior, then its increased accessibility through online media may lead to an increase in this activity. This is purely speculation, though."
Where does feederism come from? A 2009 clinical case report from the University of Lethbridge found its study informant, a married, 30-year-old woman named Lisa, had sexual fantasies of being fed and gaining weight. These fantasies had clear masochistic elements, specifically involving being controlled, dominated and humiliated. "I fantasized about gaining weight and being made fun of for being overweight, being called names like fatty or pig, or someone pointing out how big I am or how much I had gained," Lisa told the researchers.
But for Starr, feederism isn't about humiliation — it's about power. In Starr's relationship, she plays the dominant role. When she first found out her boyfriend (now husband) was into feederism, she thought it was a kink used to control women, to turn them subservient. Then her boyfriend told her that what he found so sexy was the idea of her growing larger. "I felt suddenly empowered," Starr told Mic.
"Many feedees are subs and enjoy the humiliation aspects of it," she said. "For me, I prefer my feeder to be subservient to me. I want to be like Cleopatra, but in a bed full of food, brought to me by my many admirers."
Starr has made feederism her life. She now runs multiple websites, models and prepares panel discussions on feederism for fetish conventions.
The risks of the fetish: Unlike fetishes based purely in fantasy, the binge-eating associated with feederism is a lifestyle that extends beyond the bedroom. The health risks include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing disorders and joint problems — basically what you'd expect for a kink that involves ingesting large quantities of donuts and pop.
And it's an expensive diet: Starr eats 4,200 calories daily in order to maintain her weight. The day she spoke to Mic, her lunch was two appetizers, coconut chicken and 40 pieces of sushi.
"I think, much like other fetishes, you make a conscious choice to assume the risks related to your kink," Starr said. "Not every feedee wants to be the world's fattest woman, but we all know what we are doing and we make decisions about our fetish and about our health according to our own desires and limitations."
But her overall health is "actually pretty good. My mobility is somewhat limited by my weight, but I am an active person of size. I see my doctor for regular check-ups and try to take good care of myself."
It's about loving yourself: While Starr's work is decidedly pornographic, Eve's videos aren't necessarily adult and they feature no nudity. "Not everyone is an exhibitionist or is comfortable displaying themselves naked for thousands of people to see," Eve told Mic. "Everything just boils down to it being a personal choice between each person. I personally enjoy gaining weight as both a fetish and hobby, which means I'd still be gaining weight with or without doing it publicly."
To devoted gainers, the lifestyle is about self-love. Models like Reenaye want to literally create more of themselves to appreciate.
"Trying to be thin is all about deprivation and discipline," Starr told Mic. "From a mental health standpoint, it's often about trying to change who you are out of some sense of low self-esteem. Goal-oriented obesity is about the opposite. It's about lack of self-control and extreme indulgence. Even the body reshaping comes from a place of loving what you currently are so much that you want to be more of it."
Some of these models, like Starr and her peers, have carved a niche and figured out how to turn something taboo into a steady job — and a way to take back control of their own body image. "People have been using my fat all my life as a way to shame me or intimidate me," Starr said. "But [now I feel] like I could literally eat the Earth and it would be not only OK but sexy as hell."