There is a new anti-thigh-gap sheriff in town and it is called ‘stuffing’. When I first heard the term stuffing, the image that popped into my head was girls padding the thigh sections of their jeans to achieve maximum pear shape. But no, ‘stuffing’ is a ‘burgeoning subculture’ of young women who stuff their stomachs with foods in a concentrated effort to gain weight. One such woman, who bumped her weight up from 157 pounds to 275, explained that she drinks several quarts of heavy cream every day and keeps non-perishable food items by her bedside so that she can eat something every time she wakes up in the middle of the night. According to the website Styleite, professional stuffers “. . .are people who feel a sexual desire to lose their thigh gaps in favor of boobs, rolls, and bellies.”
The movement has gained momentum through social media and online forums. Some “stuffers” showcase their consumption via Instagram and Tumblr, while others share their stories of weight gain on Youtube and Reddit, according to the website Voactiv, which tracked the trend in detail.
For those whom this trend strikes as unhealthy, stuffers have an answer for you. “We know we are putting our health at stake. We aren’t idiots,” a self-proclaimed stuffer named Jenny explained to, Voactiv. “Gainers like myself go to the doctor like anyone else. I gain weight not by inhaling Twinkies, but by eating larger portions of the same foods anyone else eats. We have a sexual urge to be fat, but we also have the common sense to listen to a doctor.”
This is where the movement gets confusing for me. I don’t think any doctor would condone drinking several quarts of heavy cream every day, nor do I think it is typical to gain over a hundred pounds just by “eating larger portions of the food everyone else eats.” I’m all for celebrating bodies in all the sizes they come in. I think it’s great that gainers are expanding the conventional definition of beauty for themselves and for those around them. This is what they need to do to feel comfortable in their own skin, and of course I want to respect and support that. But at what point does stuffing become binging? The last thing I want to do is be the food police (and the LAST LAST thing I want to do is be the weight police) but I would be worried if a 157 pound girl I knew LOST fifty pounds, GAINING 118 pounds just doesn’t feel like something any doctor I know/trust would sign off on.
So maybe the movement means different things to different people. And if for some people, stuffing, is about eating what makes you happy and feeling sexier as a bigger girl, all the power in the world to you. But if this is an eating disorder disguised as self-empowerment (when we talk about eating disorders, we tend to focus on extreme weight loss, which is a huge problem, but extreme weight gain is a problem too) then I’m just not comfortable supporting a movement I’m not sure, at its heart, is healthy for its members.
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