Tag Archives: Stocky Photos

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.