You never forget your first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. A towering monument to freedom, democracy and the big-girl aesthetic, she looms over New York Harbor, 225 tons of womanhood, 151 feet from toes to torch tip, her head high and huge, her massive bosom outthrust to welcome the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. For immigrants arriving on America's shore, the statue is the earth mother of international acceptance. For macrophiles, she's something else -- the ultimate sex goddess.
Macrophilia -- it's one of those wonderful words that means exactly what you think it means. "Macro" means big, "philios" means love. Put 'em together, whatta you got? A lover of bigness, a connoisseur of the colossal. Simply put, male macrophiles -- and almost all macros are men -- get turned on by giant women. Not merely statuesque women, not your ordinary 6-feet-2-inches Daisy Fuentes-type Amazon. Don't try pushing that diminutive excuse for a woman at the discriminating macro. He loves only the true giantess -- or GTS, as macros say -- the gal who goes, say, a hundred feet in high heels.
But where, you ask, does one find oneself a hundred-foot GTS? Nowhere,of course. And precisely because there are no real-life giantesses out there stomping around the countryside, squashing SUVs like Matchbox cars, macrophiles seeking to satisfy their giant-sized desire must rely instead on the power of their own imaginations.
The Web is the playground where macros turn their imaginations loose to frolic. Surfing the online GTS scene you'll find giantesses galore -- in reality, photos of normal-size women manipulated to appear humongous. At Giantess Corner: Shrunken Men at the Mercy of Giant Women you'll see a GTS crushing a wee little man under her shoe like a discarded cigarette butt. And over at GTS and Feet you get one macro's domination fantasy: four teensy men squished between the toes of a giantess as she paints her poster-size toenails. The variety of the macros' online creation is outstripped only by its inventiveness.
Despite a tendency among macrophiles to clam up when approached by size-neutral outsiders, I managed to crack the GTS cyber network and strike up a conversation with one chatty macro in my quest to answer the burning question: why giants?
"Seeing a giantess have her way with anything and everything is a combination of a woman being ultimately powerful, sexual and completely dominating all at the same time," says Dave, creator of the Web site Giantess World.
Dave has been married for six years and says that his sexual relationship with his regulation-size wife is "fantastic." But fantasy-wise, his preference runs toward mega giantesses -- women who tip the tape at several hundred feet. He favors GTS fantasy stories that portray mega GTSes romping the globe in murderously big adventures. And whom would Dave choose if he could transform any celebrity into a GTS? "I would probably choose Pamela Anderson or Dolly Parton," he says. "I'm a boob man."
Darwin wrote, "If everyone were cast in the same mold, there would be no such thing as beauty." So, from the Darwinian perspective, you might say that macros, in their longing for beauty, simply favor a bigger mold. But what does it say about a man's perception of women -- and of himself -- when his ultimate fantasy is to be stomped to smithereens by some redwood-size femme fatale?
"They're playing out some old, unresolved psychological issue," says Dr. Helen Friedman, a clinical psychologist in St. Louis. "Maybe as a child they felt overwhelmed by a dominant mother, or a sadistic mother. Maybe they were abused. This [macrophilia] is not so much a fetish as a disassociation from reality. It's part of an internal world." The macro's submersion in fantasy, she says, serves as a substitute for a more normalized approach to sex. "Healthy sexuality is about personal intimacy," Friedman says. "It's about feeling good about yourself in a way that expresses caring, and feeling a connection to another person."
Dave agrees that his fantasies are an escape, but he takes issue with the perfunctory Freudian assessment. "Why is it that psychology always needs to blame the parents for everything? My folks are French and Catholic, so they were a little more strict than most of my peers' families. But they were definitely not abusive."
In the wired world of macrophilia you find precious few females. For some reason, women don't swoon over King Kong-size men, and their aversion may be more than a simple matter of taste. "We live in a patriarchal culture," Friedman says. "Women already see men as larger and more powerful. They don't need to fantasize it."
So where do guys get the jones for jumbo women? For Dave, sexual awakening dates back to Liliput. Dave says, "I was turned on by "Gulliver's Travels" before I knew what the birds and the bees were all about." In the book there's a scene in the land of Brobdingnag where Gulliver gets intimate with one of the local giantesses -- the enticingly named Glumdaclitch. Dave read that scene for the first time in the sixth grade and says, "I've fantasized about giantesses ever since." Would Jonathan Swift flip his periwig if he knew that his witty satire of English society was now serving as the stuff of wet dreams for a slew of GTS-lovin' horndogs?
For macrophile film buffs, a handful of options exist. From the 1958 cult classic "Attack of the 50-Foot Woman" to Disney's cornball caper "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," Hollywood has fixated on giants in a big way. And when you're sitting in a theater, the nature of your physical relationship to the actors on screen -- the ratio of your size to theirs -- is in itself a macrophile's dream. Slumped in your seat, you gape up at the tragicomedy unfolding on screen and it's as if those gigantically beautiful people with the swimming pool-size eyes could lean out of the picture and scoop you up in their very large hands.
Dave says that because the macro audience is basically invisible to Hollywood, the onscreen GTS will remain captivating but rare. The appeal of the Internet, conversely, is that macros can create their own outsize dramas. "That's why the Internet has been the media of choice for so many of us," he says.
But Friedman sees a different reason why macrophiles -- along with cross-dressers, transsexuals and other alternative lifestylists -- migrate online. "The Internet provides comfort and privacy," she says. "It's a way for them to get together and share information. It's not the big coming out, but it's a first step."
Disassociated from reality or not, there's no denying the impressive scope of the macro's imagination. In a culture that often glorifies tininess and limp-noodle frailty in women -- think of Gwyneth Paltrow's anemic scarecrow charms -- the macro closes his eyes to the puny pop idols du jour, and looks instead to the gargantuan giantess roaming the landscape of his dreams. In a no-brainer world of prepackaged sexpots and pay-per-view porn, the macrophile stands as one of a dying breed: the true dreamer. To those critical of the dream, Dave shrugs: "Like any fetish, if you don't have it, you probably won't get it."
In other words: It's a giant thing -- you wouldn't understand.