On Imbolc, I joined almost three hundred women via the phone and Skype for “Fat Positive Art & The Fat Body Beautiful with Substantia Jones and Her Models.” The call was part of a Body Love Telesummit hosted by Golda of bodylovewellness.com.
Substantia Jones, which is her art name, is an award winning photographer who has exhibited through out the Eastern US. Her work has appeared in various publications including the New York Times. She spoke during the call about her work with musicians and how she noticed the more traditionally beautiful artists received more attention and appreciation even if they “sucked”. She wondered if repeated exposure of positive depictions of weightier women would create more of an acceptance or positive response. Thus she started the Adipositivity Project adipositivity.com She wanted to change mainstream opinion but ended up changing the models of her photographs. She thinks maybe fat people with a healthier, confident self-image would make the cultural changes because empowered women affect the people they meet.
Adipositivity is a combination of two words. Adipose: Of or relating to fat. Positivity: Characterized by or displaying acceptance or affirmation.
“The Adipositivity Project aims to promote size acceptance, not by listing the merits of big people, or detailing examples of excellence (these things are easily seen all around us), but rather, through a visual display of fat physicality. The sort that’s normally unseen. The hope is to widen definitions of physical beauty. Literally.”
Image: Artistic black and white photograph of a bountiful dark skinned woman wearing only an Ankh necklace. Copyright Substantia Jones and used with the artist’s permission.
The project has changed the models’ lives. Each one claimed Substantia was “magical” in the way she put them at ease by exuding confidence with her own body and offering a sincere smile. For the first time many realized they were beautiful.
During the call, Substantia explained that diversity is a major goal of the project. She tries to include women of different ages and races. She is a very busy person but hopes to photograph disabled women in the future. In an email she explained, “I’m especially looking for models who have a disability that would be apparent in a photo. Some of our current Adiposers do have disabilities, but none that would be identifiable to the viewer, so it doesn’t read as though that segment of the population is properly represented. That’s what I want to change.” If you are an abundant female with a visible disability living in New York and have a place for a photo shoot, please contact Substantia. adipositivity(at)gmail.com
IMAGE: 1877 oil on canvas painting by Polychronis Lembesis of a larger dark haired Caucasian woman facing away and reclining on her side. Wikimedia
Leah Sweet is one of several models who participated in the call. She has a PhD in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. She is an adjunct professor at Parsons the New School for Design www.newschool.edu/parsons/ Lea explained that contemporary critics look at large women as grotesque. The media will film or photograph them for use as social critiques. I’ve seen those obesity epidemic “news” stories where the woman in the unflattering pants is filmed with the zoom so close to her ass it could be sexual harassment. Lea points out that on the other hand people visiting art museums who see the statues or paintings of women with dimples and rolls don’t say, “Oh, this promotes obesity.” They instead see the artistic elegance of the piece. She thinks Substantia’s photographs brings images of full figured women to the present by creating beautiful and complex images. At Parson’s students are required to take two semester of art critique methodology. She labored to have visual stereotyping and messaging included in the course along with fat studies.
Golda, the moderator and owner of Body Love Wellness, asked if the ladies had any advice for women with a phobia of being photographed at all.
“Practice, practice, practice. It gets easier.”
“Start with just photographing your elbows or knees.”
“Get accustomed to your body. Tart it up.”
“It will change your comfort level with your body.”
A woman who can look in the mirror or see her photo and smile, is a joyous woman indeed.
For more information on the free telesummit visit www.bodyloverevolution.com
When Big Women Go BAD: Body Awareness Divas Part 1 at the Staff of Asclepius www.patheos.com/community/paganswithdisabilities/2011/02/04/when-big-women-go-bad-body-awareness-divas-part-1/