Oil mixed with smetana sauce flows down my chin, dripping onto my top and jeans. It seems that my belly is about to burst, but there are several more khinkalis (Georgian dumplings) to go. The smell will haunt me for days to come.
Opposite me sits a tall, overweight young man in a wide sweatshirt. He looks at me like a bear eyeing a pot of honey. Five khinkalis lie on his plate, completely untouched.
Meanwhile, I’m literally choking on food and thinking to myself that I won’t be able to look at Georgian cuisine for at least a year.
“Do you like watching a girl make a pig of herself?” I ask with my mouth full.
“Very much. It’s beautiful, both aesthetically and in other ways as well,” the man replies in an excited, almost aroused voice. Too much for a regular lunch at a Georgian cafe in central Moscow. He adds that for my height (162 cm), it would be nice if I could increase my weight to at least 160 kg.
“I love it when a girl controls me, when a 200kg lady lies on top and crushes me with her belly,” he continues. I smile and put another piece in my mouth, but I think it’s time to extend the gym membership.
That was my date with Anatoly, a 33-year-old man who works in drug store logistics. He is also a feeder, i.e. a man who gets a kick out of fattening up women.
Unsurprisingly, feederism made its way to Russia from the US. It is an entire subculture with its own terminology. There are feedees — people who enjoy gaining weight and encouraging their partner. Gainers get fat on their own, and don’t need a partner. Then, like Anatoly, there are feeders — people who help feedees put on the pounds. Finally, there are stuffers — who simply enjoy overeating. Some people combine several roles at the same time.
There is also the concept of mutual gaining, whereby both partners help each other to gain weight.
"Everyone has their own ideal weight — for some it’s 100 kg, for others 200 kg. But on average, feedees and gainers aim for around 130 kg," says Alexander Malashevich, the administrator of a Russian social network for feeders and feedees.
“Among both feedees and feeders, there are more men than women. More often than not, men seek out women, while women have a choice,” he explains.
While I’m still choking on a wretched khinkali, Anatoly starts telling me about himself…
“I had my first sexual experience aged 19 with a very skinny girl. She didn’t turn me on at all, but I just wanted sex. Before that, I was into Afro-American culture, was crazy about hip-hop. Then I saw these full-bodied Latino girls, they blew my mind,” Anatoly recalls.
Anatoly grew up with his mother, who from childhood fed him heartily and always told him off if anything was left on the plate. Still aged 19, Anatoly got to know his first feedee — a woman on a US website. She was kind to the Russian novice who knew nothing about feederism, and sent him videos for free, although she usually charged for them.
“She touched herself with one hand, and ate an éclair with the other. Being called fat made her horny. And she wore tight things, as if to say ‘enjoy my body, I’m not embarrassed,’” says Anatoly, and a blissful smile breaks out on his face.
With his “beloved” far away, Anatoly tried to find a substitute in Russia. One woman he met weighed 85 kg. Without mentioning his “hobby,” he piled another 8 kg on her in just two months.
“I knew she wouldn’t agree to get fat voluntarily, she had too many complexes. I casually slipped my food to her, while she just ate and complained about getting overweight. She didn’t realize I was fantasizing about her being much larger,” Anatoly continues.
Soon the woman got wind that she was being used as a feedee, and dumped him. A second body-conscious girlfriend also chucked him. His last serious relationship ended five years ago.
“But I’m not a total psycho. If I saw my girlfriend had trouble moving, I’d put her on a diet. And I’ll strictly monitor what my children eat until they turn 18. Do you want some more? Say yes, or I’ll tie you up and feed you myself,” he says creepily, and with a loud laugh transfers his khinkalis to my plate.
Feederism isn’t just a sexual fetish, but a real pastime, assures Malashevich.
“It's important to understand that for feedees and gainers, getting fat is their life’s ambition, comparable to becoming president, a millionaire, a pilot, etc. For feeders, on the other hand, the dream is to help feedees find their true self. It’s more than a purely aesthetic or erotic pleasure,” he explains.
It’s no coincidence that feederism as a phenomenon originated in the fast-food era, with all its multiple complexes and neuroses, says practicing psychologist Inessa Shvatskaya.
“A man who feeds his partner is essentially displaying a type of manipulative behavior, whereby, for reasons of low self-esteem, he tries to establish control under the guise of showing concern. The feedee perceives such behavior as a strong sense of love and overprotectiveness,” says Shvatskaya.
“Or a partner can point out non-existent shortcomings in the other, which undermines the latter's self-esteem and causes them to submit totally,” she sums up.
According to Anatoly, both partners should get pleasure from feederism.
“To be honest, I never wanted a girl to be dependent on me. You too have to get a kick out of the whole process. It’s not coercion, but care and concern,” he reasons. I realize I can’t eat anymore and ask for the bill. Anatoly looks disappointed.
Walking back to the subway, he admits that someday he’ll be able to fall in love with an ordinary woman, and weight won’t be the main thing. But secretly he’ll still fancy fat women.
“Today I can’t live without spare-tire bellies. You see them and immediately want to plunge into the folds of blubber. It’s like being back in the womb. A huge mom who’ll keep me safe and warm,” he says, and laughs once more. The laughter now seems diabolical, but I somehow feel sorry for him. He’s just a normal guy who can’t cope with his weaknesses.
As a parting gift, he hands me 20 éclairs — the ones that his first big (in every sense) online love from America used to munch, and probably still does.
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