Kink & BDSM

Feederism: Why Some People Are Turned On By Erotic Eating And Weight Gain

February 6, 2019 by Justin Lehmiller

Feederism has been described as “a fat fetish focused on erotic eating, feeding, and gaining weight” [1]. There are two types of people who exist within this fetish culture: feeders and feedees. Feeders are people who get sexual pleasure from feeding other people and seeing them gain weight. By contrast, feedees are people who get sexual pleasure from being fed by others and gaining weight.

Feederism has been described in the psychological literature as a paraphilia—a term that means having an unusual or uncommon sexual interest. There isn’t a lot of data looking at exactly how common this feeding fetish is, but some of the results from my book Tell Me What You Want can speak to it—at least in terms of fantasies about being a feeder.

The basis for this book was a survey of 4,175 Americans who were asked extensive questions about their sexual fantasies, including whether they have ever fantasized about feeding someone else.

The results were pretty similar across both gender and sexual orientation: 13-19% of participants reported having fantasized about this before, with heterosexual women being least likely to have done so (13%) and gay men being most likely (19%). However, no more than 2% of any gender or sexuality group said that they have feeder fantasies often. So as a recurrent or strong sexual interest, being a feeder would appear to be fairly rare.

So where do feeder fantasies come from? There are a few different theories. Some have argued that feederism is an exaggeration of the fact that we tend to find food and eating mildly arousing to begin with. As evidence of this, consider a study in which people who weren’t into feederism reported on their sexual arousal while looking at and listening to sexual, neutral, and feeding stimuli. What researchers found was that feeding stimuli were rated as more arousing that neutral stimuli (though not as arousing as sexual stimuli) [1].

By contrast, others have argued that feederism has characteristics that overlap with both morphophilia (which means sexual attraction to a specific bodily characteristic—in this case, fatness) and BDSM (in the case of feederism, there are usually elements of power, control, and/or humiliation). Perhaps feederism stems from these other interests. Consistent with these ideas, I went back to the Tell Me What You Want dataset to see how feeder fantasies were correlated with other aspects of people’s sexual fantasies.

First, I found that people who fantasized about being feeders reported that the partners in their sexual fantasies tended to weigh more, which supports the idea that these folks may be attracted to fatness in general. Second, those who fantasized about being feeders reported more BDSM fantasies of almost every type, but especially fantasies about sadism, dominance, bondage, and discipline.

Our sexual fantasies and desires are, of course, complex and it’s possible that different people may be into feederism for very different reasons. So rather than just one of these explanations being correct, perhaps they all are to some degree.

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[1] Terry, L. L., Suschinsky, K. D., Lalumiere, M. L., & Vasey, P. L. (2012). Feederism: an exaggeration of a normative mate selection preference?. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41(1), 249-260.

[2] Terry, L. L., & Vasey, P. L. (2011). Feederism in a woman. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40(3), 639-645.

Image Source: 123RF/lightfieldstudios

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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