Tag Archives: stock photography

The Only Black Woman in (Republican) America

Laurie and Debbie say:

Under the #IAmRepublican hashtag, the Grand Old Party is trying to advertise its diversity and the wide range of people who support it. Unfortunately, apparently they couldn’t find a single African-American woman to pose for the pictures, so they took an effectively free stock photo from istockphoto.com’s “happy portraits” series. And here she is …


And here she is as a Georgia Black Woman attorney with no party affiliation …

Georgia Black Woman Attorneys

And here she is as a payday loan customer …

payday loan ad

Why is this a body image issue? Because the Republicans would not have done this with a white man, and they probably would not have done it with a white woman. The nature of racism in this country in particular is such that any individual African-American person stands in for all black people. This is true of President Obama, of the woman in the stock photo, and of Michael Brown (among millions of others).

Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields, writing in Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life say:

Even as commentators at the time of Obama’s election claimed to discern the coming of a “post-racial” era, their very harping on Obama as a “black president” reprised an ageo-old feature of racecraft: the turning of one person of African descent into a synecdoche for all. The classic historical instance is Booker T. Washington, anointed by powerful white persons to speak on behalf of all Afro-Americans, because disfranchisement had robbed them of the democratic prerogative of choosing spokesmen for themselves.”

Reducing an entire population to a single real person is shameful; reducing that same population to a nameless, uncredited, falsified figure is even worse. What the Republican party is really saying with this advertisement is,

“We want you to believe that this happy woman is an American citizen, an African-American, and a Republican. We want that in a way that has absolutely nothing to do with who she is, what matters to her, or why she’s happy.”

That’s what the Georgia Black Women Attorneys and the payday loan people want, to reduce all of black America to one smiling anonymous woman.

An Antidote to Images of Headless Fat People

Lynne Murray says:

Anyone who has ever ground their teeth at the “headless fat people” and other images of fat bodies designed to promote disgust (discussed recently by Debbie here) will be glad to hear of Stocky Photos, a new gallery of positive images of fat bodies.

Linda Bacon, PhD., researcher, professor and advocate of Health at Every Size, pointed this site out in a recent Fat Studies mailing list post.

Categories of images include: individual portraits, hobbies, food, physical activities, relationships and work.


The site name “stocky bodies” must be a pun on the idea of “stock photos” those generic images used and reused, which Webopedia defines as:

… professional photographs of common places, landmarks, nature, events or people that are bought and sold on a royalty-free basis and can be used and reused for commercial design purposes.

Anyone who has ever looked for free or inexpensive images of fat bodies will find that they  are almost invariably presented in snarky, cringe-inducing backgrounds, bursting out of clothing,scowling at scales or drooling over food.

One quote in the Portrait section of the site speaks to the frustration felt by so many fat people at not seeing ourselves depicted as humans, rather than objects of ridicule: “I want my face to be attached to my body. I want you to look at me as a whole, not just a body.”

The “About” page explains:

The ‘Stocky Bodies’ image library was created in response to the stigmatised representations of overweight and obese people in the media and popular culture.

Such depictions tend to dehumanise by portraying subjects as headless, slovenly or vulnerable and reinforce stereotypes by presenting subjects as engaged in unhealthy eating practices or sedentary conduct.

Our library of stock photos was created to provide positive and diverse representations of the lived experience of fat that begin to break down the typecasting that heightens weight stigma. This is an important objective as research has strongly associated weight prejudice with widespread social and material inequalities, unfair treatment and heightened body esteem issues.

Our images challenge oversimplified and demeaning representations of weight prejudice by showing subjects engaged in everyday activities, such as bike riding, shopping for fashionable clothes and performing their jobs. The documentary imagery to be shown through the library is a non-stigmatising view of what it is to be fat and live an affirmative life.

The Stocky Bodies images present fat bodies with dignity and respect. They are available free as a resource for use by media, health professionals, social marketers, educators and others. The photographs, the outcome of an interdisciplinary project between Dr. Lauren Gurrieri of the Griffith Business School and Mr. Isaac Brown of the Queensland College of Art, are of “everyday people who are involved in fat-acceptance communities and keen to see change in the representation of fat bodies.” (More information about Dr. Gurrieri and Mr. Brown can be found here.)

Just seeing these simple, positive images made me feel good. I hope to see them being used often.