What’s your fetish: Body parts

Shay Rego

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in the following column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the views of The Collegian or its editorial board.

Fetishes may seem like a taboo subject, but they’re much more common than we may think. Fetishism is defined as a form of sexual behavior in which gratification is linked to an abnormal object, activity, part of the body, etc. 

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College students’ curiosity and sexual exploration can increase curiosity in fetishism. From a sample of college students in a study conducted by Harvard, 22% said they were interested in fetishes, and 43% students said they have or believe they have a fetish.

There are many different categories that span the fetishism criteria, and each category has multiple subcategories within it. Many fetishes can overlap with other fetishes. For now, I will discuss the fetish of body parts and its various subcategories, from the familiar to the rare.

Sexualizing the human body is a rather normalized part of sex. It’s human nature to be sexually attracted to the biological parts that comprise our sex. These sexual interests in specific parts of the body are part of a greater fetish called partialism.

The breast

Breast fetishism is the acute sexual interest in breasts. It pairs well with the adage of someone being a “boobs” or “butt” person. One study conducted by researchers at the University of Buenos Aires found that roughly 38.5% of the men they interviewed preferred breasts over butts.

Porn and other media emphasize the importance of breasts, whether it be smaller cup sizes or the large and enormous breasts. It’s the part of the human body that seems to be always in our faces. Therefore, breast fetishism is as much socially constructed as it is biological. Of all the partialism fetishes, this is the most normalized.

The navel

Navel fetishism is a part of partialism in which a person is sexually attracted to the belly button. Although it isn’t a prevalent sexual attraction in comparison to other body parts, as shown in study done by Your Sexual Medicine Journal, many people have this fetish.

Wearing crop top shirts and getting belly button piercings highlight this sexualization of the belly button. Some enjoy licking the navel, taking shots of alcohol from the navel or touching in or around the navel as pleasurable activities.

The foot

Foot fetishism is the sexual admiration of bare feet. According to a study published in The Psychiatric Quarterly, it is the most common form of sexual fetishism for anything non-sexual and is more common among men than women.

Sigmund Freud offers a theory that foot fetishism developed from how men look at women from bottom to top or look up the length of a woman’s leg into a skirt. Another modern theory suggests that the areas of the brain that correlate to your feet and to your genitals happen to be adjacent in the somatosensory cortex, so a little bit of cross-wiring goes on between the two areas.

Body fat

Fat fetishism is the sexual attraction to overweight and often obese people. Subcategories to this include feederism or gaining, which is a sexual attraction not from the body fat itself, but from the act of helping others gain enormous amounts of weight. It can also incorporate padding or stuffing, another focus of arousal centered on the sensations of gaining weight.

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A study conducted by The Journal of Sex Research found that this fetish was not only more prevalent in heterosexual men, but that the men preferred their women clinically overweight. The study also suggested that fat admirers may receive their sexual pleasure simply by rejecting sociocultural norms of attractiveness.

Oculolinctus

Oculolinctus, also known as “worming,” is the practice of licking eyeballs for erotic pleasure.

This fetish was rumored to have started in Japan, and it generates a long list of potential health risks with it, including blindness.

This is one article in many of a series dedicated to fetishisms.

Shay Rego can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @shay_rego.