Laurie and Debbie say:
Right this minute as we’re writing this, if you go to Google Images and type in “fat nudes,” you get this selection. If you do it when you’re reading this, you’ll get a different selection. Nonetheless, we’ve tried several times over the last few days, and our book cover (which you can see just to the left of this blog post) is consistently the first image, which makes Debbie the most visible fat nude in the world.
First of all, this is cool, and fun, and satisfying. It’s neat to be at the top of this particular heap!
Second, we can garner a little insight into Google’s process: while a few of the fat nudes from Women En Large show up, lots of Laurie’s other pictures show up too: pictures from “Women of Japan,” one from Familiar Men. Other photos on the page come up because we blogged them, or because they reference us. Only about half of the pictures on the page are fat nudes at all–some are of people who are neither fat nor nude. We’re the only book we know of with “fat nudes” in the title, so that will come up whenever a photograph is related to, or on a page that mentions, our work. And lots of others are from fat activist blogs or body image websites: we’re certainly not doing this work in a vacuum. Leonard Nimoy (one of the few other people who has done serious photography in this area) is also represented.
Finally, here’s the really great part! Because Laurie’s fat nude photographs are about beauty and power (and respect), and because we have so many other sources other pictures with less thoughtful or kind intent actually look different than they would if they were completely surrounded by nasty, fingerpointing images. We always say that we do this work because it changes how we see: Google Images is a tool that helps make that point really clearly. Laurie didn’t invent the idea of respectful artistic portraits of fat nude women: at the same time, this search shows clearly how much effect her pictures have had on how the concept has changed in 25 years.