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stocky bodies: no more “headless fatties”

Since last year, I’ve been a participant in a project with Dr Lauren Gurrieri and Issac Brown. Lauren is a marketing academic based in the Business school at Griffith University in Queensland and Issac is a photographer and lecturer at the Queensland College of Art also at Griffith University in Queensland.

The project has involved interviews and discussions, but the large part of the project and participation was the birth of a stock images site, appropriately titled: Stocky Bodies.

Stocky Bodies aims to combat that negative stereotype of the headless fatty.

Our library of stock photos was created to provide positive and diverse representations of the lived experience of fat that begin to break down the typecasting that heightens weight stigma. This is an important objective as research has strongly associated weight prejudice with widespread social and material inequalities, unfair treatment and heightened body esteem issues.

The headless fatty is often seen in news programs and “current affairs” programs whenever there is a story to do with obesity or weight in any way, shape or form.

I’ve spoken before about how these images portrayed on the television and in the newspapers dehumanise people. These people are literally without heads, and therefore, we cannot relate to them. Despite the fact they could be our mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, ourselves, the headless portrayal takes the human aspect out of the body and instead, focuses just on the body itself. I presume there may also be legal issues involved with these portrayals as well.

This is where Stocky Bodies comes in. It is a free resource for media, health professionals, social marketers, educators and others wishing to use images for their stories. The image library is divided into easy to browse categories and is tagged with common key words to make searching simpler.

These images have heads attached to their bodies, showing that fat people are real people. They laugh, they play, they work, they shop, they cook and they love. Most importantly, it shows fat people who have given consent for their images to be used. It has given back the power that these images of headless fatties have taken away.

I completely expect some criticism from people. It comes with the territory of being a fat activist and now, publicly having my images out there. There is also going to be an exhibit at the Brisbane Powerhouse in October of some of the images, so they’ll be even more public than they already are. I understand that if I put my images out there, then I will likely get people who don’t like them and that’s fine. All I hope for is for people to remember that the people portrayed in these images are real people, with real feelings, lives, goals, hopes and dreams. Respect and being a decent human being is not that hard a goal to accomplish.

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