Fat Fetishism Destroyed My Relationship with Fatness, Leather Saved It

Anna R.
March 28, 2024

***This article features mention of binge eating

Like most people, I’ve always had a complicated relationship with my body. There have been times when I’ve really loved my body, times when I couldn’t look at myself out of hatred, and then there’s where I’m at with my body today: confused and totally unsure of how I feel. I don’t hate myself, but I don’t really know what to make of my body, much less recognize it.

For as long as I can remember, my body has served as a point of conversation for others; more specifically, my fatness has served as a point of conversation for others. In so many ways, I always felt reduced to my fatness. As a child, I can vividly remember family members discussing my weight while they thought I couldn’t hear them. 

As a young adult, I started creating fashion content mostly centered on being plus size, with just a pinch of fat positivity thrown in. During this time, the concepts of body positivity and fat positivity were drastically different. Things were much less polarized but equally reductive. It often felt like all you could talk about was being fat or plus size as if all your other identities ceased to exist in comparison to being fat. My fatness became the center of what I created, and eventually, much like other experiences in my life, it became something I was reduced to.

It was at this time I also started engaging in consensual sex work, specifically within the fat fetish and feederism niche. I fell into it by chance, and while I chose to do what I did, I wish I could have better understood the profound magnitude that working within this fetish would have on my relationship with my body and my fatness. Once again, my fatness became the center of who I was, and unfortunately, much like every other experience in my life, all I was reduced to.


For years, I never really identified as a sex worker, mostly because I felt I had no right as someone who was mostly performing what the general public would consider nonsexual acts on camera. When I first started sex work, it was fun, it was casual, something I didn’t take very seriously. It felt empowering to rebel against many mainstream notions of how a fat woman should act, directly challenging the notions of desirability. I was fat and hot, and people were paying to be fat and hot.

I don’t think fat fetishism can be talked about without discussing feederism. The two communities are far too intertwined. Like every other fetish, there are elements (and people involved in them) that aren’t necessarily healthy or empowering. For those unfamiliar, feederism is a subculture of fat fetishism that makes the act of gaining weight and the things associated with gaining weight erotic. It relies heavily on body transformations and the tribulations that come with that. In my opinion, there are a lot of elements that claim to uplift fat people but still center thin bodies as desirable bodies. 

Within feederism, there are a lot of elements of shame, which, as a masochist, I more than get. While I don’t personally find eroticism in feedism, I can understand why people find healing in it. That being said, I still think there are major issues within the community, but that's another article for another day, perhaps. 

Much of what sold well in the fat fetish world were things about fatness that were considered taboo. Things like fat bellies, double chins, mobility, and health struggles, and anything involving gluttony. As someone who grew up in the 00s diet culture, you can probably figure out these weren’t the most thrilling topics for me to talk about, real or imagined.

Photo: Brittany Sowacke

Sex work for me was never congruent; I dropped in and out depending on my energy, my vanilla work life, and of course, my relationship with my body. But eventually, sex work became a full-time gig for me after leaving my vanilla job at a Queer healthcare company. At first, it was business as usual for me, and I was able to handle talking about parts of my fatness I had demonized. But as more and more of my identity became tied to sex work, it felt like more of my identity became tied to my fatness. These feelings would become all the more compounded in the coming months as the pandemic hit.

After two years of having my income rely solely on online clip work, things started to get really bleak. I couldn’t compartmentalize my sex work anymore. My entire income had become reliant on a caricature of fatness, on others' ideas of my fatness, on parts of my body that I absolutely hated. I hated myself. I hated my body. I isolated, and in that isolation, I reverted to old unhealthy habits. I started to binge again, something I hadn’t done in years. My relationship with my body reverted back to 10-year-old Anna’s. Meticulously weighing myself throughout the day while sharply critiquing anything that went into my body. It felt like I was right back to being the fat child at Weight Watchers.

There were points where I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I hated being fat. I hated that this was how people saw me: a slob, a pig, a worthless fat whore, to be discarded after someone’s post-nut clarity because they had shame about finding me attractive. 

I hated myself for not being successful in other arenas of sex work. Within that hate, there was jealousy. Jealousy towards other nonfat sex workers over not having to navigate fatphobia as a fat person. I blamed myself for my own lack of success in sex work despite never wanting a permanent career in that industry. I wanted so badly to pivot into literally any other fetish or kink, but I couldn’t figure out how. In hindsight, I realize it wasn’t my own lack of skill but rather that all my energy was being consumed by my own isolation and self-hate, combined with a lack of financial resources.

Things stayed like that for longer than I care to admit. I still feel a little bit of shame about it, but what’s being a person without shame? Soon my own self-hate impacted my closest relationships. I lost my ability to be intimate, physically and emotionally. I became a partner, friend, and person I really hated. I felt like I had betrayed body positivity; I was a bad self-hating fatty. A loser, unworthy of love or desire. Worthy only of being someone’s shameful fetish, worthy only of existing inside a screen, worthy only of people talking about my fatness and not my many other attributes, like my A+ personality, obviously.

Photo: Brittany Sowacke

I eventually charmed my way into a startup and immediately quit sex work full-time. That job, while the most mundane work, gave me the ability to rebuild. It freed up space in my brain and allowed me to just breathe. I found myself once again having the energy to work on my own health and what are clearly mental delusions. I just floated for a while.

Eventually, I started evaluating my own relationship with my fatness, my perceptions of desire, and my experiences in sex work. I began to consider feederism and fat fetishism from a different perspective, largely informed by my experiences within kink communities, particularly the leather community. Much of feederism incorporates elements of BDSM; while they aren't identical, there is significant overlap. Both involve feelings of control, safety, playful exploration, and controlled danger. My own engagement in BDSM and leather often stems from challenging the feelings of neglect I faced as a child and relinquishing control to my dom. And I can see how some people within feederism play also experience those feelings.

I can understand how elements of feederism may evoke similar feelings of safety and power. I recognize the potential for eroticizing shame, regardless of its origin. However, despite these aspects, I still believe that the feederism and fat fetish community, especially its cisgender male members, have much work to do in creating a safe environment for fat individuals. There remains a lack of understanding of consent, something that feederism could learn from the practices within leather communities.

Admittedly, I’m still very much working on some things as they relate to my body, fatness, and my own idea of desire.  I presume I will be working on those things for the rest of my life as they are subject to flux. Today, I have a lot less shame about doing fat fetish work; perhaps it’s time, perhaps it’s age, but I like to think it’s my overall disdain for others' perceptions of me. I no longer have the time to care about how others might perceive me. Under capitalism, we all have to make sacrifices. And at least my sacrifice got me some beautiful Balenciaga bags that are sure to get me canceled.

I am tremendously proud and honored to be a sex worker. I am forever thankful for the many passionate, beautiful, and powerful sex workers that came before me. I hope I can do them and my community proud.