Dr. Bill, I notice more and more in gay bars that many of the patrons are, frankly, enormous, but what's worse is that these guys often seem to attract much better-looking men. I have never been a chubby chaser, but we're not even talking about overweight guys or guys with pot bellies, but fucking ENORMOUS lard-butts. There seem to be so many of them and they seem to have their admirers. But why? What on earth is sexy about fat? Can you enlighten me on this? I just don't get it.
Now this is a timely question! First let me say that I don't think there's anything remotely sexy about fat, and I am just as baffled by the proliferation of "lard-butts" and even more so of the guys who like them, as you are. For the record these morbidly obese men are now called "manatees" after the huge, ungainly fish that resemble underwater elephants. I really can't understand what people find appealing about them.
I don't mean to be cruel, mind you. But programs like The Biggest Loser have shown that even the most corpulent person can still lose weight if they have sufficient motivation and the will to do so. Obesity is preventable. You can talk all you want about hormones and big bones and all the rest, the fact is that the vast majority of manatees stuff their faces with anything they can get their hands on and the only exercise they get is when the TV remote falls on the floor and they have to bend over to pick it up.
Do I sound unsympathetic? It's because I am. I may need to lose a couple of pounds, but I have managed to stay in reasonably good shape for several years after dropping about forty pounds. Anyone can watch their diet and get some exercise. It's tougher for some than others -- you have to factor in not just weight, but age, metabolism, general health etc. etc -- but it's never impossible.
As for the attraction? I believe most of the guys who like manatees are insecure and have a need to be with someone who is much less attractive (to most people) than they are. They are dealing with self-esteem issues. For some people, fat is a fetish that makes as little sense as most fetishes do. They are just turned on by excessive avoirdupois and that's that. The rest of us are utterly repulsed, of course, scratching our heads when we see an attractive (to us) man on a date or -- gross! -- making out with a manatee.Then there are those highly neurotic individuals [regardless of sex or sexual orientation] who can't deal with life and subconsciously want to get back inside mommy's womb where they feel safe. Being surrounded by all that blubber (not to mention the humungous man boobs most manatees possess) creates a similar feeling of well-being [in sharp contrast to the revulsion most of us would feel].
The trouble with manatees is that they are not healthy individuals. Yes, it may be true that being thin doesn't always mean that you're healthy, but weighing 290 pounds or more can never be healthy. The strain on the heart, high blood pressure, and so on, makes these guys walking time bombs. They don't have healthy diets. If their admirers, boyfriends, lovers etc. really cared about them, they would do just about anything to get them to lose weight!
[I briefly dated a guy who suggested I put on at least 20 pounds. That was not going to happen, no matter how cute he was. He disappeared, and I imagine he is now happily partnered with a behemoth. Better him than me. As one friend said, if he really cared about you he wouldn't have wanted you to become obese.]
Manatees are an outgrowth of the bear movement; they are especially large chubby bears [at least if they're hairy]. But while many bears can have a solidity to them, a paunchy football player appeal, manatees tend to be roly poly or sloppy fat, are often smooth-skinned, and frequently effeminate to boot. Stereotypical Big Fat Bears also have an unhealthy lifestyle.
Another thing to keep in mind is that most gay men are not attracted to manatees. You can find them and their admirers in certain bars, but not in most of them. So there is hope for those of us who don't break the scale during our weekly weigh-in.
But it just goes to show that in the diverse gay male community, there truly is someone for everyone.
Years ago I attended a party at a group for chubbies and chasers called Girth and Mirth with a portly friend. [This was before I'd put on weight myself.] I felt a little bad that the really fat guys were completely ignored while everyone chased the thin men. Now the tide seems to have turned a little -- at least for a time. But trends tend to peter out, and I suspect it won't be long before this whole fat thing will become tiresome for all but a few, and getting in shape will once more become the thing to do.
Lastly, is being attracted to hairy men a fetish? No doubt it is for some guys, but more often it simply signifies an attraction to masculinity; a hairy chest is more masculine than a smooth one. Ironically not all hairy men are masculine and not all smooth men are queens.