The Adipositivity Project takes on “Glamour” and the rest of the thin-is-best world


If you’ve already read Jamie’s incisive blog from last week about Glamour‘s alarming and hypocritical treatment of the beautiful America Ferrera, you may be in as much need of an antidote as I am. Just in time, via Feministing, I came across a website specifically aiming to counteract the messages that Glamour and so many other media outlets persist in pushing. Here it is: The Adipositivity Project.

The site presents images of women taken by professional photographer Substantia Jones (not her real name, just a darn cool pseudonym), who writes, “The Adipositivity Project: Trying to change attitudes about the aesthetic validity of big women, one fat fanny at a time.”

The images are smart, sexy and — as is the point — aesthetically gorgeous. No underhanded insults (Fit Light Yogurt, I’m looking at you), no false hope about Hollywood’s love for big women, no unfounded accusations of weight (Ferrera, who points out that she is quite normal-sized, is indeed too small to appear in this crowd of actually large women). The pictures speak for themselves.

The gallery is limited so far, particularly in terms of diversity, but it’s a tremendous start. I appreciate the fact that Jones doesn’t try to fetishize and doesn’t try to justify; she stays away from the health debate altogether and simply tries to normalize. Because of that aim, I do wonder why she doesn’t publish under her own name, but who am I to point fingers? The web is a tricky place in an altogether tricky world.

Similarly, I question her decision to include bodies only, no faces, which seems to buy into famously anti-feminist attitudes. However, she explains:

One reason for [the exclusion of faces] is to coax observers into imagining they’re looking at the fat women in their own lives, ideally then accepting them as having aesthetic appeal which, for better or worse, often translates into more complete forms of acceptance.

I think it would be hard to disagree with the idea that physical acceptance is indeed the first step for so many people, and the approach is refreshing. By offering a “visual display of fat physicality” rather than “listing the merits of big people, or detailing examples of excellence” (things which are “easily seen all around us”), Jones forces us to acknowledge that accomplishments shouldn’t be recognized as an exception, somehow out of character with or in spite of weight. Regardless of profession, achievement or personality, fat women have bodies, and their bodies deserve appreciation. I, for one, am happy to oblige.

I have come across a variety of responses to Adipositivity, from fellow photographer Laurie Toby Edison, who chose to include faces in her photographic series Women En Large, to a very personal interpretation from Super Babymama.

Jones is encouraging people to spread the word, so here I am. Check out all of the pictures in the Adipositivity Gallery and post your thoughts (and your favorites) in the comments, then pass the link along to the folks you know — thin, fat and everywhere in between — who would love a reminder of what beauty is all about.

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