While it’s true that many of the patients on “My 600-lb Life” do receive disability and are unable to work, that isn’t the case for everyone. Zsalynn Whitworth from Season 2 took advantage of the fact that she was so large; some men find that very attractive and are willing to pay the big bucks for some photos or videos. This is better known as a fat fetish, or a “big beautiful woman” fetish.
Whitworth was able to pose in her underwear on certain websites as she was trying to earn money for gastric bypass surgery, before being chosen by TLC to appear on the show. She eventually lost weight, and posing on the fetish websites was no longer an option. Whitworth told the San Antonio Times that some of the men still contact her, asking her for dates or pictures. She has to explain a few things to them. One, she’s married. Two, she lost the weight! “When I tell them I’ve lost a bunch of weight, they say, ‘Oh my God, what happened?'” says Whitworth. “I tell them, ‘I woke up.'”
Patient Samantha Mason took the fetish one step further and began charging people to watch her eat on film. Albeit unhealthy, Mason’s daughter said it actually helped her self-esteem in addition to making money. “It kind of makes her happier because those people just find her as beautiful. They find her as a human being, not some huge maniac.”