Eating for Money: Not a Laughing Matter

My “guilty pleasure” is reading the Daily Mail.

Between celebrity spottings and sensationalist stories, the mailonline.com guarantees satisfaction, and yesterday, one story in particular stood out: an article about fat fetishism that was accompanied by the following short video:

Interested in becoming a therapist for sufferers of eating disorders, and having gone through years of food-related problems myself, I was drawn to Tammy Jung’s life as a fat fetish model.

Not only is it interesting that Jung’s bid to become a recognized BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) sprung from years of self-criticism for being fat despite maintaining an athletic physique, it’s fascinating – albeit disturbingly so – that people get a kick out of watching these women eat themselves silly. Grossly, online fans send Tammy requests to eat and weigh herself on camera, pitifully using what I deem to be a mental illness as entertainment. And if mental illness seems a bit strong to you, perhaps the following will support this categorization:

1. Forcefully, Jung funnels milkshakes made with heavy cream down her throat regardless of fullness, asserting, “I’m hoping to earn more money the bigger I get.” Here, the forced discomfort Tammy describes, as well as the fact that she voluntarily jeopardizes her body, are red lights signaling an eating disorder.

2. As a determined ‘gainer,’ Tammy celebrates every pound she gains and insists she doesn’t care about damaging her body because she’s “making lots of money.” She also says her family shouldn’t be upset by what she’s doing to herself because she’s simply making a living. But if making a living trumps health, something is not quite right.

3. Her emphasis on weight gain and stuffing herself to the brim despite her body’s protests, as well as comments like, “eating makes me happy,” suggest Tammy has unmet emotional needs. Her behaviors are similar to those of a sufferer of anorexia who, instead of emphasizing weight gain, emphasizes loss; instead of stuffing themselves to the brim despite their body’s protests, starves themselves; and instead of saying eating makes them happy, would say the opposite.

1, 2, and 3 show the despicableness of fat fetishism; here, a young woman – Tammy is only 23 years old – evidently emotionally struggles, but her vulnerability is taken advantage of by people who are ignorant to mental health and eating disorders. And although it’s hard to observe Tammy’s self-harm, I was deeply troubled by some of the comments left by fellow readers. The despicable likes of, “What a moron,” “thank christ she wont be around long this world will be a better place plus maybe after she’s gone we can feed africa,” and “I hope she dies before she becomes a strain on the welfare system” evidence just how disconnected humans are from soulfulness. Where are the “I wonder what’s troubling her” remarks? Where’s the compassion? Out of the 100+ comments I read, only two mentioned seeking emotional help from a therapist.

I can only hope that bloggers continue to shine light on the seriousness of eating disorders, as well as the need for open dialogues about mental health. This ignorance – this utterly shameful lack of awareness of emotional suffering – is deadly. Tammy says the bigger she gets, the more beautiful she feels, but is this the truth? I would argue no. I would argue that Tammy, like so many women, simply wants to be acknowledged: she needs validation that she belongs, and she goes about achieving this through the use of food. And it is for this very reason that people who engage in fat fetishism need to reevaluate their priorities; there is a fine line between partaking in the fat acceptance movement and objectifying and dehumanizing fat people, the latter of which is unpardonable.

What do you think about fat fetishism?

If you could say one thing to Tammy, what would you say?

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2 responses to “Eating for Money: Not a Laughing Matter

  1. I think that Tammy is an autonomous adult who has the capacity to legally make money and damage her body any way she pleases, so long as she isn’t harming others in the process. I’m sorry that she has a profession in which she physically harms and degrades herself; however, there are plenty of physically and emotionally damaging jobs, as well as jobs taken solely for greed. There are many mental health sufferers, and while it’s a shame that Tammy is suffering and not seeking treatment, being in the spotlight and being an extreme case definitely doesn’t garner an extra dose of my sympathy.

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