This is where we share stuff we can’t share on our Facebook page for fear of being kicked out! Read why here. Usually the posts are about body image, sometimes there’s nudity but we’re all adults here. Right?
Fat people are reminded every day that we are objects of fear and revulsion. When we dare to aspire to love — real, reciprocal, respectful, deep, boundless love — we are slapped back. Our most human want is met with a seemingly impenetrable wall of harsh stereotypes and unforgiving attitudes.
Fat people are expected to be grateful that anyone wants us — even if that desire shows up as sexual assault or abusive partners. We are subject to humiliation for daring to express our interest in someone else. Those who fall for fat people learn to hide their feelings after years of being told their desire isn’t real. We learn simple lessons: that bees sting, that fire burns, that open affection cannot be trusted, and that love is not for bodies like ours. If we are to be fat, we cannot also be loved.
When I was a child in Tokyo, every evening my family and I would gather our toiletries and go down the street to the public bathhouse. There, in the women’s bath, all bodies slipped happily into the hot waters and gossiped and cackled. As a little girl I saw all the shapes and all the imperfections and all the stages of bodily change of wrinkles and sags and decay of time that framed the glorious granny grins of life well lived.
I told the women of this and their eyes lit up. (I need to get these women to an osento, or jimjillbang bath! Or saunas, or hammams or banyas…)
There were other threads of ‘all women’ assumptions.
Show me a man who controls the way his wife looks, and I’ll show you a man with an unhappy wife.
For Charlotte Guttenberg, she had always wanted a tattoo. But her husband wouldn’t allow it. He has his mind made up as to “what a woman should look like” and because Charlotte wanted to be a good wife, she obeyed him.
“I always wanted tattoos. My husband…forbade me from having tattoos. His whole concept was that no lady would have a tattoo. But it didn’t stop me wanting one,” said Charlotte.
But when Charlotte’s husband died 10 years ago, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.
“As author Junot Diaz once wrote, if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves,” photographer Substantia Jones explains.
This adage strikes at the core of Jones’ mission as a fat activist and photographer. Eight years ago, she resolved to “subvert the very tool most often used to instill body hate” — photography — and wield it to celebrate fat bodies. (She prefers the term “fat” — a “morally neutral descriptor” — to the term “plus-size,” which she sees as more suited to clothing than people.)
Substantia was weary of sizeist representations of larger bodies in the media and the lack of images that depicted fat people as sensual, fulfilled beings. So, she started “The Adipositivity Project,” a photo-activism campaign dedicated to beautiful (and unretouched) photography of fat people of all sexualities, ethnicities, genders, and abilities.