Laurie and Debbie say: Meloukhia at this ain’t livin’ is hosting the second ever Big Fat Carnival. We’ll be hosting in August. In June the host will be Vegan Kid, whose post featured in this carnival is right up our alley.
She starts out by saying just how delighted she was by Leonard Nimoy’s photographs of fat nudes. “I wanna show the world the beauty in dancing naked when its demanded that we stay clothed.” And then she talks about how that changed.
But my elation was soon grounded as i looked at the title of the photo set, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Full Body ProjectÃ¢â‚¬Â. … The other sets had names like Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Dance NudesÃ¢â‚¬Â, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Borghese SeriesÃ¢â‚¬Â, and Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Shekhina ProjectÃ¢â‚¬Â. These sets were about beauty, individuals, settings, and movement, not about the bodies.
In the dominant culture, conventionally beautiful, temporarily able-bodied, White assigned-wimmin are denied their bodies. Partly because their bodies are normalized and partly because their bodies are no longer bodies, but objects. However, the rest of us are never allowed to forget our bodies. Not only are we taught to hate our bodies, but we are constantly reminded of how much others hate our bodies. Even when someone seemingly tries to highlight the beauty of a group of people dancing naked regardless of their size, … when we label the photo series Ã¢â‚¬Å“Full Body ProjectÃ¢â‚¬Â. Once again, it ceases to be about pure beauty, because those outside the standards of conventional beauty can never reach pure beauty. Instead, we are a tainted beauty – a beauty of pity.”
This is what Women En Large is about for us: about showcasing the beauty of real women without comparisons. We always talk about beauty and power together, about how the photographs highlight truths about everyone … which became even clearer once Laurie started shooting Familiar Men and Women of Japan.
When we were putting together the book of Women En Large, people repeatedly suggested that Laurie pose naked for the artist photograph. While that would be fine for most books of nudes, in this case it would have made Vegan Kid’s comments as true about our work as they were about Nimoy’s: half of the reviews and critiques would have focused on the difference between Laurie’s thin body and all the other bodies. We knew that wasn’t where we wanted to go.
One thing Laurie calls Women En Large is “my statement on the female nude … at least for now.”
Nimoy’s work is beautiful, and at the same time in the end it’s about “othering” his models by comparing them with his (or his culture’s) definition of “normal.” Our work is exactly the opposite: the goal is to make everyone “normal.” To use Vegan Kid’s language, we’re working to make a space (and a world) where everyone is “allowed to exist in harmony with our bodies, to love our bodies as beauty.”