lifestyle

Do these photos promote obesity or celebrate beauty at every size?

Rebel Wilson

Larger women pretty much have two options to choose from, if they want to be in the spotlight:

1. Ashamed, constantly apologising for their weight and doing everything they can to change (think crying on Dr. Phil or being yelled at on The Biggest Loser).

Or

2. Ashamed, constantly mentioning their weight, but funny and always cracking jokes at their own expense (think Rebel Wilson in ‘Fat Amy’ or Melissa McCarthy in ‘Mike and Molly’).

That’s it.

If a fat woman has the audacity to live her life out of the shadows without first changing her body, it always seems to be under the guise of hating herself or making fun of herself.

This system has become so familiar, that when large women are portrayed without any shred of shame or humour at their own expense, it causes international shockwaves.

Case in Point: The Full Beauty Project, a collection of photos by photographer Yossi Loloi. The collection features various women posing nude in a series of beautifully shot photographs. But nude photos are hardly a revelation, so why are the pictures making international headlines?

Because the women posing in them are fat.

That’s it. They’re fat.

There’s nothing different about these nude photos to millions of other nude photos out there, except that the women in them have a body shape that we are not used to being confronted with. Take a look:

Photographer Yossi Loloi has this to say about the project he created, on his website:

Yossi Loloi

In my work I portray what larger women represent to me. I focus on their fullness and femininity, as a form of protest against discrimination set by media and by today’s society.

What larger women embody to me is simply a different form of beauty. I believe we own ‘freedom of taste’ and one shouldn’t be reluctant of expressing his inclination towards it. Limiting this freedom is living in a dictatorship of aesthetics.

I believe there are several ways to what is perceived as beauty, it is not measurable and has not got a standard size.

Predictably, there has been much outcry from those who believe that Loloi is ‘promoting obesity’. He himself has said that the majority of feedback he receives about his models is negative.

But Loloi insists that those people are missing the point of his collection: “I think that whenever someone suggests that I’m promoting ‘fat-ness’, he is heading in the wrong direction,” he said. “What I am trying to underline with my work is any individual has the right to be beautiful, and that beauty does not belong to one category in this world.”

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“Any individual has the right to be beautiful.”

That is a concept that many people seem to struggle with when confronted with obesity. But why?

In a society where poor body-image is causing women to hate themselves so much that they’re often willing to slice themselves open in order to change, why should we begrudge those women who have learned to love themselves?

Particularly women who have learned to love themselves in the face of a constant stream of discourse that insists their fat bodies should only be the subject of disgust and loathing? Isn’t that kind of strength and self-love something to be celebrated?

Clinical psychologist Louise Adams thinks that it is:

Louise Adams.

“I think the artist – far from doing anything to promote obesity – is pointing out to our society that beauty doesn’t have a ‘standard size’.

He has afforded these brave and astonishing women something that is rarely, if ever, given in our culture – he has demonstrated them pictorially with dignity, style, flair, and yes, sexuality.

Proudly unique and viewed positively. It’s so important that we see images like this in a world where anything beyond a size 12 is almost never glimpsed in our media.”

So many cry foul when the media dares to portray women who are large and unapologetic about it, and ‘concern for their health’ is often used as the catch-cry of those discriminating against fat women. But, even if their health is an issue (and it’s important to note that it isn’t 100% of the time), that shouldn’t have any affect on whether or not those women are allowed to love themselves.

Self-love shouldn’t come with any conditions, be they size, appearance, health or otherwise. I struggle daily with that concept, and when I look at the women in these photographs, I’m filled with admiration. That they love themselves enough to bravely stand naked and face a world that often insists that they are hideous… Well, it’s freaking awesome. Most of us could only hope to ever reach such a place of body-acceptance, let alone those of us who are targeted in the most heinous and cruel ways.

These photos aren’t meant to be ‘before shots’. They aren’t meant to be funny. They’re just meant to be.

Fat women. As they are. No apologies, no gimmicks.

I admire that.

What was your reaction to the photos?

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