'One of my earliest memories is fantasising about size'
Jess* is 50. Married with a 16-year-old daughter, she teaches at a university. Her flat overflows with books and periodicals, with few clues as to her other life -- except perhaps the full-length mirror in her kitchen.
How many women wish to see their body reflected back at them while eating?
"I have no idea where it came from, but one of my earliest memories is creating make-believe stories about expansion," says Jess, who is 5ft 2in and 16st. "I'd take a pill or a potion, grow larger and larger until I floated away."
Despite these urges, Jess knew that to 'expand' was deemed unacceptable. "As a chubby teenager, I spent years dieting with my mum, and carried on right up until my thirties. Before I got married I spent four months on a liquid diet and lost 50lb."
Her pregnancy changed all that. "It was a revelation to be able to eat what felt right for me and my baby without worrying," she says.
Now Jess is unashamed of her preference for fat. "I always liked the look on men and women but I'd had decades of training in being repulsed," she says. "Now I don't have that ambivalence. I like the softness. I like the fact that there's mass, there's stuff to hold."
Three years ago Jess became an active gainer, eating what she wanted, whenever she wanted -- sometimes alone and sometimes aided by others -- and put on two and a half stone.
Although Jess told her husband, he didn't share the fantasy.
"It's been a difficult road to negotiate," she says.
"He loves me but I'm not his physical type. His ideal is closer to what I looked like when we married and I hadn't eaten for four months. At the moment we're living apart for a number of reasons, and that's one of them.
"I want to figure this out and see what it means to me and I don't want to inflict that on him."
*Name changed and picture posed