By Joe Roberts @jrobertsjourno
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Videographer / director: Susan Tan, Ruaridh Connellan
Producer: Joe Roberts, Ruby Coote
Editor: Ian Phillips
Anthony Piersanti, who weighs 185 pounds, and his wife Jean, 415 pounds, have been together since 2006 and married in 2010.
The pair, of Peoria in Arizona, say they are no different to other couples, and that Anthony’s love for larger women, far from being a fetish, is a relationship preference like any other.
Anthony, 36, told Barcroft TV: “There is definitely a stigma of smaller men dating bigger girls, or vice versa, and I think it’s because bigger people are looked at as undesirable.
“I get asked a lot why I’m attracted to larger women and I usually answer that question with another question: ‘why you are attracted to people that you’re attracted to?’
“If you're attracted to somebody with blonde hair or brown eyes or blue eyes or big feet or small hands or whatever the heck you're into, it’s because that’s who you are, that’s what’s in your body.
“There's this weird stereotype that it has to be a fetish and that’s not true at all, it’s just preference.”
Jean, 47, added: “I have never been with men who love my size as much as Anthony but he doesn’t make it into a fetish thing.
“It upsets me that Anthony gets judged because of being with someone my size it really is sad that people don’t see us as people.”
Despite the judgement the couple often face, they remain positive and say they have reached a place where they aren’t bothered at all by others’ opinions.
But it took a long time for Anthony to reveal his natural preference for bigger girls, which he hid during his youth and throughout high school.
The winery director likens his experience during this time to that of members of the LGBTQ community who are afraid to reveal their sexuality.
Anthony said: “Back in high school I would date thinner girls because that’s what you do, but I was always attracted to the bigger ones.
“And that was so bad because I’d have these crushes on these girls and I wanted to go on dates with them but I knew I would get teased. I knew that it would cause me problems.
“To have to pretend to be somebody that you are not kind of eats at your soul. You're alienating a core piece of who you are and that sucks. So I was really, really depressed for many years.
“It very much parallels, I would assume, somebody of the LGBTQ-plus community having to come out to their friends and family.”
It wasn’t until Anthony’s senior year of high school that he finally decided to embrace his ‘true self’ and began dating a plus-size girl.
“I lost all my friends,” he continued. “My family got a little weird about it and everybody was just weird about it.
“I would constantly get asked ‘what are you doing, why is this a thing, do you have confidence issues?’”
But the negative responses he got didn’t stop Anthony from continuing to date the kind of girls he wanted, and in 2006 he met Jean at a plus-size nightclub.
Anthony heard that Jean needed a ride to Reno, in Nevada, and as he was going himself he offered to take her with him.
Jean recalled: “For me, body type wasn’t an issue as long as he had a nice smile, that was good for me as well as an attitude that went well with the smile and that was it for me.
“Our relationship developed rather quickly. We spent eight hours just talking and we never thought that we were going to see each other again so we spewed anything and everything.”
The two married four years later and now live together in Peoria, where Jean is a full-time YouTuber.
Both say the relationship is just like any other, though there are considerations they have to take into account due to Jean’s weight.
“Being in a mixed-weight relationship has its challenges,” said Anthony. “Those challenges usually are around when I want to be active.
“So when I want to go and take the big screaming rollercoaster that has a weight limit of 220 pounds, and Jean can’t go on that kind of stuff, we can’t share those experiences.
“Most of my stuff is adventure-driven. There are times where you are hiking and there is this beautiful sunset or this amazing waterfall and you wish that you could cherish that with your person.“
Jean added: “There are some things which have weight restrictions, so Anthony did sky diving by himself because the weight limit was like 230 pounds.”
On top of these challenges, Anthony and Jean have experienced their share of judgement when out together.
The pair recall a particularly negative experience when they were dancing at a night club and noticed a man staring at them.
“He was showing all of his friends like ‘look at them dancing, like why are they dancing like this,’” said Jean who immediately confronted the man and his group of friends.
"I actually went up to this guy and I started crying in front of him. I was like ‘you don’t know how much you are hurting feelings, you think it’s all funny.’
“I am not mean about it though. I don't yell at them. I just, I let them know that you are hurting my feelings.”
At this point in their relationship, both Anthony and Jean say they have reached a place where the comments and stares don’t bother them.
Jean, in particular, says she came to a point around one-and-a-half years ago where she could start to be happy.
Still, she tries to lose weight, not for anyone else, but so she can accompany her husband on his adventures without restrictions.
“You can only blame yourself for not being able to do it,” she said. “But am I happy with myself? Yes I am happy. I think I am beautiful. I think I have so much to offer.”
Anthony shares his wife’s confidence and is happy to finally be living in an authentic life with a woman he really cares about.
“I think you need to find a way to be more comfortable with who you are,” he said. “You need to be comfortable with what your preferences are and live that life because if you do that you get to be happy.”
Jean added: “For me being in a mixed weight relationship is just perfect for me. I think if you can find somebody you can laugh with, that you can have a good time with, that you can play with, that you can love, that is all that matters”