Living Large

While New Jersey resident Donna Simpson, 42, is on a mission to become the world’s fattest woman, several other people who are also intentionally gaining weight are also making headlines. The Guardian’s Lynda Cowell recently wrote of a few women who are purposely overeating. Some are doing so to buck traditional beauty standards or to feel liberated. Others gain weight simply because they want to do so. “It is my right to be fat; nothing about making a point,” Helen Gibson, a 40-year-old nurse, told Cowell. 

Some gainers point to the fat acceptance movement as their inspiration, but the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance actually dismisses gaining on health grounds and, as Anna North at points out, would most likely dismiss it on political grounds as well. She writes: 

A cornerstone of FA is the notion that diets don’t work, and that many people naturally have fat bodies even if they eat as little, and exercise as much, as others who are thin. By consciously overeating to become fatter, gainers turn this idea on its head. Though they’re probably a tiny percentage of all fat people… they may increase fat stigma by convincing the public that fat is, in some cases, a choice.

What I find most interesting is the sexual aspect of gaining weight, which is often glossed over or labeled fetishism in most articles about fat acceptance. As Cowell states, for some gainers “more fat means more sex appeal; the extra flesh that everyone else is attempting to shed fuels their desires.” 

This may sound strange, but is it really? As North writes, “many claim that losing weight makes women ‘feel sexier’ — is it any more unnatural if gaining weight makes some women feel sexy too?”

This actually makes a lot of sense to me. Though I’m now a size 10 when I was younger I was very thin and wished for a curvier body. I felt this would make me more of a woman and more desirable.

That said, I don’t believe that anyone should risk their health gaining (or losing) weight to achieve some image of the perfect body. Simpson currently weighs over 600 lbs and will need to consume 12,000 calories per day to get up to her goal weight, which is about 1,000 lbs. She insists that she’s healthy, but considering she currently needs a mobility scooter when she goes shopping, I doubt that’s true. 



  1. Wow…where do I start on this one? The comment that this lady made stating that she is healthy means that she is in complete denial. As you stated Jai, she can’t even walk on her own and it’s due to her weight! Why would anyone be on a quest to become the world’s fattest woman? I think that it’s sad and that she has some deep-seated issues. What is she trying to prove and to who is my question? Gaining weight because a person is skinny in an unhealthy manner is one thing but a quest like this is mind-boggling to me.

    Jai, you said that you used to be skinny and wanted to be curvier and I don’t see anything wrong with that because as women, we have curves! But you were not on a mission to blow up in excess.

    How this woman can even remotely think that all of that excess weight is healthy is beyond me. It puts so much pressure on her heart and other vital internal organs that they are unable to properly function. I don’t even weigh half of what she does and I know that the excess weight I have on me is not good. I personally have no desire to be painfully skinny or even supermodel thin. However, I do have the desire to be fit and healthy and for me that means getting the extra unnecessary weight off. Not having the extra weight means fighting against diabetes and high blood pressure and countless other issues that can come from being overweight. Yes, there is the aesthestics piece of it as well but that is not my overall goal.

    If a person wants to live a healthy and productive life with some longevity, health is a big part of it (no pun intended). I have seen skinny people who are not healthy and I have seen plus-sized (in society’s opinion) people who are healthy. But I have never seen a 1,000 pound healthy person!

    As for the sexiness part of it, everyone has their vision of what sexy is and some people like it skinny and some people like it a little healthier. To each his own. But what is sexy about not being able to take care of yourself, not fit in an airplane seat and not being able to walk, all because you have all of this excess weight?

    I personally have seen what an extra 50 pounds can do and the issues it can cause. I can’t even imagine what an extra 750 plus pounds can do and the kind of limits it would and can put on one’s life.

  2. My first thought when I read the first sentence was WTH?!?! Give me a break.

    So, how does she work weighing 600lbs? Even if you take the “right to be fat” piece out of it or the fact that it’s unhealthy, you’re still left with who’s picking up the tabs (rent, food, doctors) while you’re purposely being that fat?

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