Fat Studies Journal: Review Women En Large

Laurie says:

Esther D. Rothblum, a long time fat activist and scholar, has edited the first academic journal in the field of fat studies, Fat Studies An International Journal of Body Weight and Society. She’s currently a professor of women’s studies at San Diego State University. Esther has been one of the clearest and most articulate people in the field for as long as I’ve known her.

It’s available as a free PDF until June 30th. It’s published by Routledge.



..is the first academic journal in the field of scholarship that critically examines theory, research, practices, and programs related to body weight and appearance. Content will include original research and overviews exploring the intersection of gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, age, ability, and socioeconomic status. Articles will critically examine representations of fat in health and medical sciences, the Health at Every Size model, the pharmaceutical industry, psychology, sociology, cultural studies, legal issues, literature, pedagogy, art, theater, popular culture, media studies, and activism. The journal will occasionally publish thematic issues that focus on a specific topic, as well as book, film, and media reviews.

It includes a extremely perceptive review of Women En Large by Stefanie Snider. She’s comparing it to Leonard Nimoy’s Full Body Project.

We’ve had many, many positive reviews of Women En Large over the years but her understanding of the project and our process was exceptional. Debbie and I very much appreciated it.

Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes was the result of a nearly decade long process of exploring the ways in which fatness was considered in creative communities. The project of photographing fat models that would become Women En Large was also a creative response to the history of Western art’s aestheticization of the nude female body and art history’s investment in a thin-body ideal for its female subjects. Although Western art does not entirely ignore fat women, much of the history of the female nude is intimately involved in supporting the conventional beauty standards of its day. As such, large groups of individuals, who had been made socially unintelligible due to gender, race/ethnicity, class, ability status, and sexuality, have been made invisible by being left out as subjects of visual culture and fine art.

Laurie Toby Edison, a photographer and metal artist, worked in Women En Large to contest the ways in which fat women had been given an outsider status, and were made to become invisible in contemporary art practices. Edison and Notkin had a difficult time getting the project published initially, as most mainstream publishers, and even several “alternative” presses were hesitant to take on the social and political ramifications of a book filled with large pictures of fat nude women (Corinne, 1994).

…The book (Women En Large) format made fat acceptance and bodily empowerment, along with the trials and tribulations of being a fat woman in contemporary U.S. culture, accessible to a wide, international audience. It also provided a space in which the women who took part in the image-making were able to communicate intimately with the viewer through their own words, which are included in one of Notkin’s essays in the book, as well as next to some of the photographs in the book.

Now that I’m back from my trip to Boston and more or less recovered, I’m downloading the journal PDF to read.
Check it out.

6 thoughts on “Fat Studies Journal: Review Women En Large

  1. Hi Laurie,

    It is an honor to have you feature my review on your blog! I am so glad that you and Debbie appreciated the ways in which I presented Women En Large in the book review. As an art historian focused on exploring issues of representations of marginalized bodies, I have long felt that Women En Large was an incredibly important contribution to the field of contemporary art and photography. It was a pleasure to be able to write about it for the Fat Studies journal.

    All my best, Stefanie Snider

  2. Yay! It’s such an important, powerful book, and Stefanie Snyder has been doing such fine work as an art historian engaging with art by and about fat women. Really nice to hear that she’s written about Women En Large in the new Fat Studies Journal.

  3. Why was Patricia Schwarz’s photography ignored in this article? She did a whole color slide show called “Women of Substance” back in the late 80s. Since she couldn’t find a gallery in the USA that would take a show of naked fat women, she exhibited it in other countries. Japan thought so much of her work that they made a hard-bound book of her photographs. Patricia Schwarz lives in the Bay Area and will be selling her books soon, she says. 2-28-12. She can be reached through Facebook.

  4. Stephanie,

    And thank you for the quality of your work.


    Thanks! Hope your new project is going well.


    I admire Patricia’s work and have seen the beautiful book from the Japanese museum. It’s a shame that because (to my knowledge) it never had distribution in the US, it hasn’t had much visibility.

    I looked on the web for her images . The only link I found is to the Fat Chance documentary but it does have 3 of her photos. {http://edgelandfilms.com/Pages/Fat%20Chance.html}

  5. Hi Mara,

    I was asked by Esther Rothblum to do a book review on Women En Large and The Full Body Project. Since the Fat Studies journal is brand knew, I expect there will be many more opportunities to discuss other artists engaged in representing fat people in the future.

    Thank you for letting me know that Patricia Schwarz can be reached via Facebook.

    Best, Stefanie

  6. Does anyone know how I can contact Patricia Schwarz? I can’t find her on Facebook (but I’m in the slow lane when it comes to the information superhighway). I just received another new book on photographs of fat women and would love to compare it with Women of Substance. Thanks!


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