Fat Positive Photography

Fat Positive Photography
Representation Matters

I’ve recently returned from the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) Conference and I’m reflecting on all I’ve learned. I’ve wanted to share and further explore Substantia Jones’ keynote, “Fat Visibility Through Photography: the Who, the How, and the Hell Yeah.”

Jones is a photographer, a “Fat Acceptance Photo-Activist,” and the proprietor of the Adipositivity Project.  She started Adipositivity in 2007 to “promote the acceptance of benign human size variation and encourage discussion of body politics” by publishing images of women, men, and couples in larger bodies. Substantia is passionate about the fact that fat people don’t see a balanced representation of themselves in the media—as she says, “Humans need visibility. Positive and neutral visibility is being denied to fat people.”

So many of the media images we see of larger-bodied people portray them in negative and stereotyped ways: unkempt, unhappy, eating fast food, and often headless—as if they are ashamed to show their faces. At the same time, the range of body types provided by media images does not really represent most bodies. The media typically culls the thinnest or fittest sliver of the population, and then proceeds to photoshop the images of these bodies.  According to the Body Project, “Only 5% of women have the body type (tall, genetically thin, broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped, long-legged and usually small-breasted) seen in almost all advertising. (When the models have large breasts, they’ve almost always had breast implants.)”

In September 2009, Glamour included a photo of Lizzie Miller, a model who is a size 12-14. The photo showed Lizzie nude and looking joyful while displaying a roll of belly fat. The response was overwhelming—American women were thrilled to see a woman who looked more like them and was happy to boot.

While this was groundbreaking, the average American woman is a size 16. So where are the images of the upper half of the weight spectrum? It should be noted that it is not only larger bodies that are marginalized; other bodies are often not portrayed in mainstream media. These include bodies that are darker-skinned, disabled, aging, and gender diverse.

It is important that people in larger bodies see images of people that look like them. It is also important for all people to broaden their aperture on what people should look like. This includes viewing images of fat people who are happy, sexy, desired, and beautiful and engaging in all the activities that make up a fulfilled life.

Those working in the field of body acceptance confirm the therapeutic value of seeing attractive images of larger-bodied people. Unfortunately, these images can still be hard to find. One must look outside of the mainstream media. With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to provide resources for beautiful, artful photos of people living in larger bodies.

During her keynote, Substantia shared photos from several of her favorite fat-positive photographers, including those that inspired her. Below I list some of the photographers she shared and where to find their photos and information about them.

  • The photography of Patricia Schwarz can be found in Women of Substance – Portrait and Nude Studies of Large Women, published in Japan in 1996 by The Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts. Little has been published about her aside from this article, which states that Schwarz, who belonged to the fat liberation community in the 1980s, specialized in full-color photography of fat women. The book features women posing in domestic, natural and urban settings in various stages of clothing and nudity.
  • Laura Aguilar is known for her photographs of people from various marginalized communities (including fat, lesbian, and Latina). She is particularly known for portraying her own nude body as a sculptural element in desert landscapes.
  • Leonard Nimoy (yes, that one) published The Full Body Project, a collection of black-and-white nude photos of members of a burlesque troupe called the Fat-Bottom Revue. According to Nimoy, the purpose of the book was to challenge the harmful beauty ideals promoted by Hollywood.
  • Catherine Oakson was described in an obituary as a creator of “artistic self-portraits—some playful, some sensuous—and messages of body positivity.” Unfortunately, since her death, her photographs are extremely hard to find. Her website, “Cat’s House of Fun,” is only available via web archives (web.archive.org). Search for the website, http://catay.com and look at screen grabs prior to 2017
  • Shoog McDaniel, an artist and photographer living in Florida, was also present at the ASDAH conference, and their art was used in the conference program. Shoog was featured in this article in Teen Vogue which described them as “the photographer pushing the boundaries of queer, fat-positive photography.” Shoog states “the work that I do is about telling the stories of people who are marginalized and not usually put on the forefront, and whose lives are beautiful and important.”

Although Substantia’s presentation did not touch upon it, it’s worth mentioning Representation Matters, the world’s first website providing high-resolution, royalty-free, stock images of diverse bodies for commercial use. (The image in this post is from Representation Matters.) They specifically include larger bodies portrayed in a positive light. These photos are available for purchase.

Unfortunately, diet culture and thin privilege are alive and well, and those in larger bodies remain marginalized and excluded from most mainstream media. I hope you’ll check out these resources and come to appreciate the vast diversity of the human body. I purchased some photography books to share at my office. Together we need to work to challenge the notion that there is a best way to have a body and learn to celebrate the beauty of all bodies.

On a closely related topic, I’m thrilled to see that Meredith Noble has a great list of body positive artists to follow.

Source

Baker, Cindy. 2013. “Aesthetic Priorities and Sociopolitical Concerns: The Fat Female Body in the Photography of Patricia Schwarz and Jennette Williams A Review of Patricia Schwarz: Women of Substance, by Patricia Schwarz, and The Bathers: Photography by Jennette Williams, by Jennette Williams.” Fat Studies 2 (1): 99–102. https://doi.org/10.1080/21604851.2012.709447.

Don’t Diet! 10 Alternative New Year’s Resolutions

Don't Diet in 2018 I am skeptical of New Years Resolutions in general because I think they promote all-or-nothing thinking (I also don’t like to categorize entire years as being bad or good for this reason). I don’t feel that one needs to wait for the year to reset to make changes in one’s life. I  am anti-diet and dread the increased obsession with dieting and weight loss that arrives with each January 1st.

So I thought that this year I would offer some alternatives to weight loss goals as potential resolutions for those who will be making some for 2018.

 

Don’t Diet in 2018: Alternative New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Resolve to learn a new skill. Whether you’ve always wanted to learn to rock climb, play the piano, make dumplings, or cross-stitch, now is the time to do it.
  2. Commit to improving one relationship. Whether it’s getting to know that coworker, spending more time with your spouse, or getting back in touch with that childhood friend, do it in 2018.
  3. Pledge to reject self-denigrating body shaming comments. Those negative body comments, often made between friends, make everyone feel worse. Try to avoid saying things like, “My thighs look fat,” “Does this make me look fat?” “I need to lose weight.”
  4. Commit to not dieting. Focus instead on eating intuitively according to your own taste and hunger and satiety cues. Your amazing body will regulate itself if you let it.
  5. Listen to one body positive podcast. Improving your body image will make you feel better than dieting will. Here are a number of great suggestions.
  6. Spend more time in nature. Research shows that spending time in nature is associated with improved mental health. Go on a monthly hike, plan to visit a national park, or just spend some time outside appreciating your surroundings.
  7. Volunteer! So many organizations are in need of volunteers and there are so many important causes. You can devote your time to helping animals, saving the environment, or improving literacy. Volunteering provides health benefits and can boost self-esteem.
  8. Create something. Paint, draw, needlepoint, collage, write a story or a song. Art is a great way to express your feelings and the act of creating something can boost mood and self-esteem.
  9. Expand your cooking repertoire. Whatever your cooking ability, there is room to grow. Learn a new technique, master a new cuisine, and try some new recipes. Cooking is a great way to improve your appreciation for food and can help with mindful eating.
  10. Make no New Year’s resolution at all. After all, the passage from 2017 to 2018 is just a social construct — it affects neither your self-worth nor any progress in your life.

November 2017 LACPA Eating Disorder SIG Event

Jamie Feusner, M.D.Date:  Thursday, November 30th at 7:30 PM 

Presenter:  Jamie Feusner, M.D.

Title: Body Image in Anorexia Nervosa and Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Clinical and Neurobiological Features

Description: Anorexia nervosa (AN) and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) share clinical features related to body image distortion, including distorted perception of appearance and overemphasis on appearance in one’s self-evaluation. In addition, they share obsessive and compulsive tendencies, poor insight, and are frequently comorbid with each other. Despite this, few studies have directly compared the phenomenology or neuropsychological functioning in AN and BDD and even fewer have compared their neurobiology. In this talk I will describe the overlapping and distinct clinical features of these disorders, as well as the neurobiological substrates of visual and emotional processing from our recent lines of research. In our research, we have used functional neuroimaging (electroencephalography – EEG – and functional magnetic resonance imaging – fMRI) to probe the neural basis of visual processing and to uncover the dynamics of brain connectivity related to fear processing. We additionally have used structural neuroimaging to understand white matter network connectivity patterns. I will also discuss our ongoing study in AN of how brain systems involved in anxiety interact with those involve in reward and how this relates to clinical trajectory. Finally, I will discuss ongoing and future studies to develop visual modulation strategies to address dysfunctional neural systems involved in visual processing, as potential tools to remediate perceptual distortions in disorders of body image.

Bio:  Jamie Feusner, M.D. is professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA. He obtained his medical degree and completed his psychiatry residency training at UCLA. He then completed a psychopharmacology fellowship followed by a research fellowship in neuroimaging, and joined the UCLA faculty in 2006. Dr. Feusner’s research program seeks to understand phenotypes of perceptual and emotional processing across conditions involving body image and obsessions/compulsions, including body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), eating disorders, OCD, and gender dysphoria. Dr. Feusner published the first functional neuroimaging studies in BDD, and the first studies to directly compare the neurobiology of BDD to anorexia nervosa. He is currently funded by the NIH to study anorexia nervosa, BDD, and gender dysphoria. His clinical work includes Directorship of the UCLA OCD Intensive Treatment program. He teaches cognitive-behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy, and is a research supervisor for postdoctoral fellows and students.

Location:  The office of Dr. Lauren Muhlheim (4929 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 245, Los Angeles) – free parking in the lot (enter on Highland)

RSVP to:  drmuhlheim@gmail.com

SIG meetings are open to all LACPA members.  Nonmembers wishing to attend may join LACPA by visiting our website www.lapsych.org

Spring 2015 LACPA Eating Disorder SIG events

Wednesday, February 11, 7:15 pm

Pia Guerrero
Pia Guerrero

Presenter:  Pia Guerrero

Title:  Adios Barbie: Body Image, Intersectionality, Healing and Advocacy

Location:  The office of Dr. Lauren Muhlheim (4929 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 245, Los Angeles) – free parking in the lot (enter on Highland)

Bio:  Pia Guerrero  is a media literacy and youth development expert with a focus on body image, race, and representation in the media.  For the past 20 years she has led a number of youth development organizations and programs in the San Francisco Bay Area.  From Harlem to Hawaii, she’s  led presentations to thousands of teachers, youth workers, and youth on the impact the media has on young people, especially girls. Pia is also the founder and editor of Adios Barbie, the first body image website to expand the conversation beyond size to include race, age, ability, sexual orientation, and sexuality. As the first website of its kind, Adios Barbie has been mentioned in MSNBC, The New York Times, Forbes, Al-Jazeera, Glamour, among others. Pia has also appeared numerous times as an expert on CNN’s Headline News (HLN) and Huffington Post Live. Currently, Pia works as the Executive Director of SheHeroes, a non-profit that profiles exceptional career women for their accomplishments and character with the purpose of empowering girls to pursue rewarding careers.

Wednesday, March 4, 7:15 pm

Nikki DuBose
Nikki DuBose

Presenter:  Nikki DuBose

Title:  B.E.A.U.T.Y: Paint Me A Soul

The talk will reflect on my life struggles and will focus on the modeling and entertainment industries and how I believe they contributed to my eating disorders, addictions, and mental health issues.

Location:  The office of Dr. Lauren Muhlheim (4929 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 245, Los Angeles) – free parking in the lot (enter on Highland)

Bio:  Nikki is a former fashion model, host, and commercial actress who recovered from a 17 year battle with anorexia and bulimia.  Writing for recovery turned into a full-time career for Nikki. She is working on her first book, detailing her life’s challenges, in an attempt to help others overcome their hardships as well.  She is an advocate for  the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), and the Project HEAL.

Tuesday, April 14 6:30 pm

Presenter:  Stephanie Knatz, Ph.D.

Stephanie Knatz, Ph.D.
Stephanie Knatz, Ph.D.

Title:  Using neurobiology to improve treatment for anorexia

This presentation will focus on providing a brief overview of the neurobiology underlying anorexia and present new treatment methods developed and used to target the underlying neurobiology.

Location:  The office of Dr. Lauren Muhlheim (4929 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 245, Los Angeles) – free parking in the lot (enter on Highland)

Bio: Dr. Stephanie Knatz is a clinical psychologist and program director for the Intensive Family Treatment Programs at the UCSD Eating Disorders Treatment and Research Center. Alongside colleagues at UCSD, Dr. Knatz is responsible for UCSD’s treatment development initiative to translate contemporary neurobiological findings into applied clinical treatment models. Through this initiative, Dr. Knatz and others at UCSD are in the process of developing a neurobiological framework for the treatment of anorexia. Dr. Knatz is currently overseeing the development, testing and implementation of a novel clinical treatment program for adults with anorexia and their family members, which integrates novel treatment strategies developed at the clinic. In addition to her clinical research, she also directs UCSD’s Intensive Family Treatment Program (IFT), a family-based treatment program for adolescents with eating disorders.

Thursday, May 14 7:00 pm

Presenter:  Jaeline Jaffe, Ph.D., LMFT

Title:  Misophonia

Location:  LACPA Office (Encino)

Please RSVP to drmuhlheim@gmail.com (2 H’s in Muhlheim)

March and April SIG meetings are open to all professionals.   During other months SIG meetings are open to all LACPA members.  Nonmembers wishing to attend may join LACPA by visiting our website www.lapsych.org