American fat activist will photograph 30 nude New Zealanders
American fat activist and photographer Substantia Jones is taking photographs of nude fat people during a tour around New Zealand.
The New York-based artist has made a name for herself through her Adipositivity project. Over the years, she has taken hundreds of photographs of nude and semi-nude overweight people around the globe. Celebrating fatness, the 54-year-old has released The Adipositivity Project calendar for the past nine years, featuring her favourite images.
Currently on a month-long trip through Australasia, Jones photographed five people in Auckland, before arriving in Wellington on Wednesday night to carry on.
She had an enthusiastic response about her call for fat people to model, and become "Adiposers" (fat posers).
"I'm delighted to have Kiwis and Aussies join the hundreds of others represented by the project.
"I get mail from all over the globe, and often people tell me they'd like to participate, but can't get to me in New York."
So far, photo shoots have been arranged in Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington, Dunedin, Queenstown, Christchurch, Melbourne and Sydney, with about 30 overweight Kiwis in line.
Jones is a keynote speaker at Massey University's conference later this month on fat studies. While here, she will launch an exhibition of her fat photos at Palmerston North's Te Manawa Museum.
The photographer and activist hopes to broaden definitions of physical beauty. Literally.
"The women you see in these images are educators, executives, mothers, musicians, professionals, performers, artists, activists, clerks, and writers," she says.
"They are perhaps even the women you've clucked at on the subway, rolled your eyes at in the market, or joked about with your friends."
Conference organiser Dr Cat Pause, a senior lecturer at Massey's Institute of Education and New Zealand-based fat studies scholar and activist, says those being photographed are usually comfortable with their bodies, and happy to be part of the project.
Describing herself as "death fat", Pause says: "Seeing fat bodies in her work – especially naked fat bodies – is revolutionary.
"We're used to seeing them as headless fatties in the media – the fat torso without a head that accompanies most stories in the news.
"But seeing them as Substantia presents them, with dignity and respect, and sometimes beauty, shifts the way you see all bodies, regardless of size."
Te Manawa museum will run an Adipositivity Project exhibition from 1 July until 29 August. Its blurb explains: "Adipositivity requires the observer to suspend cultural bias and explore a body-positive attitude with a series of empowering images of everyday people - parents, lovers, executives, artists, musicians, educators - who have shed their clothing to literally broaden the definition of beauty and in the process confront popular belief that there is only one worthy body".
Te Manawa chief executive Andy Lowe says the exhibition is part of the museum's desire to be inclusive.
"Stories that challenge us are as important as those that inspire us if we are to drive meaningful conversations about our diverse communities."
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