Self-Portrait Series Newsworthy Because It Highlights Weight Loss
An article on today's Yahoo front page highlights a series of self-portraits taken over eleven years by photographer Jen Davis. The photos are beautifully rendered, but that's not what makes them newsworthy. They're newsworthy because they in part highlight the (lap band assisted) 110-pound weight loss that happened during that time.
Are Fat Bodies Desirable? Yes, But That's Not Always Enough
Of the photo above, entitled "Fantasy," Davis writes:
"The guy in this photo is my roommate. I wanted to know what it felt like to have a guy desire me."
The idea that no man desired Jen Davis as she was in this photo is completely unfathomable to me. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say that from everything I know about life up to this point, it's impossible that no man desired Davis' body. But I think she's letting on to a much bigger and more nuanced idea.
What I believe the image reveals (and her verbiage - perhaps unwittingly - obscures) is not that she wanted simply to be desired. It seems she wanted:
No, Davis Is Not A Meanie Pants. I'm Just Saying Fatphobia Is That Bad.
My point is not to paint Davis as a misguided or bad person, but to point out how insidious fatphobia really is. It's not just the belief system that fat people are inferior and deserve scorn, it's that even as body acceptance becomes a somewhat more widely acknowledged option many people would still choose normativity over self-acceptance.
For a great primer on just how bad fatphobia is and just how awesome, fierce and desirable fat girls are pick up the paperback or kindle edition of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion.
4/24/2013 10:21:09 am
Go Virgie!! I was unsettled by this earlier today. I am about this girl's "before" size if not bigger. I felt like reaching through these pics and hugging this girl and yet slapping her silly. And then hugging her again. Or maybe just shaking her by the shoulders. While I know exactly how she feels, I also know now how it feels to not hate yourself because you are not the norm. And I also know that the first step to becoming desirable is to find yourself desirable, which Jen Davis obviously did not--at least in her "before" stage. But there's no telling that anyone desires/loves themselves at their "after" weight just because they got a normative boyfriend. Excellent photos. But, i'm so glad I wasn't the only one with some of Virgie's reaction.
4/24/2013 11:52:04 am
You've hit the nail on the head. I've found it amazing over the years how many fat people ignore other fat people when looking for a mate. So many straight fat women want a tall, thin, conventionally "handsome" male, while many straight fat men want the conventionally "attractive" female. Perhaps it takes a greater sense of self-confidence to buck the system and look deeper to find the beauty in a variety of bodies. Then again, I'm one of those who find intelligence and compassion to be the biggest turn-ons in any size body.
4/24/2013 07:27:41 pm
Hello. Really liked you point of view here. I really think it is not about the size but about how you feel about yourself. Normally everybody thinks thin girls happy because they are beautiful and fat girls are ugly therefore miserable. But I think thats wrong. I think happiness makes you sexy and being miserable makes you ugly. I see some of my thin friends being miserable because they think they are ugly/fat/whatever and it showes. And I see some of my fat friends that are happy and they look fantastic. I really think it comes with self-esteem. A friend asked me once how I can choose between 2 guys (back then) with my figure. The sad thing was, that she was fat too and couldn't imagine how someone could find a girl attractive like that.
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Virgie Tovar, MA is one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp (a 4 week online course focused on helping people break up with diet culture) and the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She writes about the intersections of size, identity, sexuality and politics. See more updates on Facebook.