Here is a starting point for you; a thought- provoking examination of what the “obesity crisis” looks like, what real overweight people look like, and whether those images do, in fact, match up with the photos of “headless fatties” in every newspaper article and television report about obesity.
What has arisen from this is the illustrated BMI photo project, which is just such an awesome idea (as suggested, watching it as a slideshow will amaze you). I just want to stand up and applaud. Since Hoyden About Town already did such a great job of summing it all up, I will just quote her:
The gist of this: when current affairs programmes jump onto the “Obesity Crisis!!1!” bandwagon, they illustrate the stories with unflattering video footage of the largest, most ill-dressed people they could find in the nearest mall. By eye, these people typically have BMIs of 45 to 50 or more, yet their images are being entrenched in the public imagination as representing the bulk of “obese” and “overweight” people – who, on the whole, have BMIs in the 25 to 40 range. Our collective mental images of “obesity” and of typical weight ranges are very far from the reality of most “overweight” people.
Some of the posts working to bring weight numbers and BMI categories out in the open, and strip them of their shaming potential, are:
Illustrated BMI Categories
Stop, Drop, and Roll
Go Guess The Rotund’s Weight and Height
Note that there’s a line to be walked here. Some people may see this attempt to show that the vast majority of “overweight” and “obese” people don’t look like the “headless fatties” on the news as buying in to common definitions of the people fitting these common images of obesity as freakish, gluttonish, immoral. It’s not. Another strong stream of Kate’s writing is to reinforce over and over again that NO body size is unacceptable, no body is a signal of its inhabitant’s moral worth or value, no matter what.
And there it is. Amazing idea. Kate Harding, who is spearheading the project, is accepting photos for both the BMI project and the Shapely Readers photostream. As for the former, she has this to say:
Please note that because the point of the BMI project is to show how fucking insane the cut-offs are, I’m generally only using people at the very low end of their categories for that. One exception is the awesome Fat Girl on a Bike — and in a swimsuit! — Sarah, rockin’ the morbid obesity category. Action shots like that are most welcome (though I am trying to keep things worksafe, btw). Basically, anything that clearly busts a stereotype, beyond just “I’m fat AND pretty” — ’cause you’re ALL fat and pretty, except for the ones who aren’t fat — is what I’m looking for for that. (Oh, the other exception is the obesity category, because I stopped dividing it into 2 on the Flickr page, but I’m still including both ends of that category.)
It makes me want to start a random Big Fat Deal photo pool, but maybe I’ll wait until we’re all drunkenly taking pictures of each other at BFD-con.
Posted by mo pie