Men and women classified as clinically obese have stripped naked on camera, for a series of raw interviews in which they speak candidly about their relationships with their bodies.
Among those revealing themselves both physically and emotionally for a BBC Three documentary are a fitness instructor turned pageant queen whose weight gain was triggered by heartbreak, and a man who recalls being fat-shamed by his own siblings.
The Naked Truth: Obesity also features a woman who gained 7st during a bout of glandular fever, and a photographer who would binge-eat to cope with her loneliness as a shy student.
The interviewees discuss their love for and pride in their bodies, but also tackle feelings of shame and anxiety – whether prompted by others’ judgment or their own criticism of themselves.
All five reveal how it feels to live as an obese person in an ever more image-conscious society – and the effect it has on their self-esteem.
And they discuss the reasons why they believe they have become obese after bravely stripping off for the BBC Three cameras.
Here, FEMAIL shares their stories, in their own words…
KAT, 17 STONE
‘Being a fitness instructor, you get new people into your class on a regular basis. You see these people walk in and look around to figure out who the instructor is and they look at you and they’re like “oh”.
‘Why has weight got to be a thing? Just because I am a big girl doesn’t mean I can’t be active and it doesn’t mean you have the right to judge me based on what I look like,’ says Kat on the show.
Kat fell pregnant at the age of 16, and when her boyfriend at the time walked out on her and his unborn child, she turned to food for comfort.
‘I basically developed a really unnatural with food and started comfort eating. I went up from a size 12 to a size 28 and that was probably in about a month and a half,’ she recalls.
‘My body changed so drastically I didn’t even recognize the person I saw in the mirror. It was completely different.’
Kat, who admits she could eat a 24-pack of Cadbury Crème eggs in one day, said: ‘It was dangerous because I was comfort eating because I was very, very low.
‘For the short five minutes when you are eating it felt good but then afterward you think “I probably shouldn’t have eaten that”.’
She has spent years battling with her weight, going to slimming clubs and taking diet pills in a bid to shift the bulge, even experiencing a brush with an eating disorder.
‘I’ve starved myself, I’ve binged, I’ve tried to throw up food. I’ve had a really unhealthy relationship with dieting.’
Kat says she’s been on the receiving end of hurtful criticism from strangers: ‘When I get on the train and I sit down next to somebody and there is ample space for two people to sit on a seat you often get [huffs].
‘It is just unnecessary. I don’t huff at you because you are there picking your nose on the train… how about you don’t huff at me because I am slightly overweight?’
Kat, who was crowned Miss British Beauty Curve in 2016, is now embracing her body.
‘I do think there are a lot of people who have negative opinions on body size, I don’t think that will ever change, but what can change is us trying to change people’s attitudes towards bodies,’ she says.
‘Understanding that everybody is beautiful regardless of its shape and size. We are all inhabiting a body and we all have to live with a body. So why are we judging each other’s bodies? Why can’t we just be happy for each other?’
COREY, 22 STONE
Corey admits he has ‘always been on the large side’, and said he was often made fun of by his slimmer siblings.
‘They used to call me fatty fatty bum bum, and say “who ate all the pies?”‘ he said of his sister and two brothers.
‘Me and my brother spoke about it [recently] and he said he used to say it as motivation. [He thought] that I would get so sick and tired of being called fatty bum bum that I would go and lose weight.
‘When in reality all that made me do is think “well, I am fat”. It will get me down and then I will just go for the packet of crisps or chocolate bar.’
Corey’s says his go-to snacks are supersize portions of crisps, chocolate bars, and cake.
‘That is what makes me happy,’ he says.
‘It could just be a simple case of I’ve had a really bad day, and [so] to make myself better I will have some food.
‘You just have that moment where you want it and you need it, and then after that, you don’t think about it until it happens again.’
But Corey, who is a drag queen in his spare time, says his excessive eating does concern him, and he has been trying to limit his food intake to the contents of one lunch box.
‘A yogurt, a couple of sandwiches, a pack of crisps, a chocolate bar, and a small cake,’ he says.
‘Once that is gone, that is gone, I’m trying to limit what I have got.’
JED, 22 STONE
‘When people are obese, they are a problem,’ says comedian Jed.
‘For a fat guy, I am still very active. I think people get this image… “oh he’s fat, he must sit at home and eat crisps” – and if I get a day off I might do that.’
Jed admits that he doesn’t follow an especially healthy diet, and doesn’t exercise.
‘I wasn’t very sociable as a kid, I wasn’t very sociable in my teens and I’ve never really had a healthy diet,’ he says on the show.
‘I eat at the wrong times I don’t exercise, it’s who I am. It wasn’t like “life was tragic so I ate”, life was just life and I ate and I got fat and these things happen.’
‘If I wasn’t fat, maybe I’d be a different person,’ he says, adding that it has led him to his chosen career.
‘Maybe I wouldn’t have developed a personality where I had to make people laugh to get them to like me – so maybe if I wasn’t fat I wouldn’t be a comedian.
‘I think we all have an ideal body and this isn’t my ideal body… but it’s my body.’
SOPHIE MAYANNE, 21 STONE
‘I know I’m fat but I go to work every day, I pay my bills, I take my dog for a walk,’ professional photographer Sophie says.
Sophie, who is working on a personal project called Behind the Scars, describes a ‘lot of misconceptions’ about larger people.
She attributes her weight gain to her shyness growing up, which saw her seek comfort in food.
‘I think I was quite shy at college and socially a bit awkward. At that age, I had more kind of walls up and I didn’t have as many friends,’ she says.
‘I would buy a lot of food and binge because I was quite lonely and on my own.
‘That’s probably when I put on most of my weight. Maybe I’d eat a whole box of cakes and feel angry at myself for doing that and then I’d eat again…’
Her attempts to diet have been unsuccessful so far.
‘I think restricting yourself and denying yourself things makes you then feel worse about yourself and then that leads to bingeing and more overeating,’ she says.
‘Your body and your experiences kind of lead you up to where you are today and then if you could change yourself then all of that history isn’t kind of presence in your body.’
JO, 20 STONE
‘From a doctor’s point of view, I am classed as morbidly obese. But I don’t think there is anything morbid about me, I can run, I can go upstairs,’ Jo says.
‘People need to understand that not every fat person is lazy, some are but so are some thin people. It’s not just down to weight it’s down to the individual.’
At the age of 17, Jo was struck down with glandular fever and gained seven stone during the eight months that she was ill.
‘I know a lot of people lose weight with glandular fever but I used to just sit there and eat,’ she recalls.
‘I am under no illusions as to why I am fat, I am not going to come up with any sort of excuse.
‘I like donuts, lasagne, nuggets, but you can’t get six, you have to get 20 because there’s no point when it’s an extra two pounds. I just like food.’
As a plus-size model, a beauty pageant contestant and the founder and creative director of a clothing brand specifically for plus-sizes 16 to 32, an upbeat Jo doesn’t let stares or off-hand comments bother her.
‘I am not saying I am proud to be fat, all I am here to say is you live your life how you want to live it.’
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