Nude Photographs Of Obese Women Feel Conflicting (NSFW)

Yossi Loloi - Photography

Yossi Loloi - PhotographyYossi Loloi - Photography

When I first looked at Yossi Loloi’s “Full Beauty” project, I felt conflicted, and, admittedly, a little irritated. Loloi’s whole mission statement is something we, as women, are constantly being reminded of– how the media is a horrible liar, how all women’s bodies are beautiful, how the art world is sexist too, and how we need to subvert to change and love our bodies, love ourselves. Right? Right! So, how might we do this? According to Loloi, one way, is to examine unconventional imagery such as his own collection of beautiful obese women, commercially lit in relaxed settings.

Of his intention, Loloi’s website states, “I focus on their fullness and femininity, as a form of protest against discrimination set by media and by today’s society. What larger women embody to me is simply a different form of beauty. I believe we own ‘freedom of taste’ and one shouldn’t be reluctant of expressing his inclination towards it. Limiting this freedom is living in a dictatorship of esthetics.”

What Loloi says is not horrible, not terrible. It’s quick, easy, and makes perfect sense. Scroll through the photos and you will see that these women certainly are strong and brave to share bodies that, on the surface, are not generally appreciated. I love the female subjects for embracing this. In fact, the women’s bravery is the most redeeming aspect of this project.

However, Loloi’s work also feels confusing to me– limiting. I want to know more. How specifically are these obese women beautiful to him? Why these particular bodies? What is his own relationship to obesity? How does beauty relate to sexuality? How do these larger bodies deepen and how do they cope with not only societal scorn, but also health issues?

This is where my mind goes. It’s hard for me to simply just digest that the images are beautiful because I am told that they are different. I need more sustenance, otherwise it feels surfacy or fetishy . . . then again, perhaps, I don’t know, maybe this is the point– Loloi’s work could be more about bringing a certain sexual taste into the mainstream, and if so, well then, there’s a talking point.

Regardless, I found this series valuable because it forced me to evaluate my own sense of “beauty” in relation to bodies, not because Loloi has “taught” me about how beautiful obesity is nor because he opened my sexual palette, but because my questions and reactions led to a certain meditation: how sometimes, bodies are the most gorgeous in the wake of surviving some type of trauma, emotional or physical. There is power in that kind of strength, a deepening that goes beyond the surface and I hope to see more complex depictions of that nature in the future, to understand or relate, not just retaliate.

Yossi Loloi - Photography

Yossi Loloi - Photography

Yossi Loloi - Photography Yossi Loloi - Photography Yossi Loloi - Photography Yossi Loloi - Photography Yossi Loloi - Photography

  • Bud

    To me it is not about beautiful, or sexy or art. When you talk about the love of a body, you
    should be taking care of that body. As
    much as I hate to say this, these photographs make me quite sad. Why? Because these women will not have a very
    long life. They will have multiply health problems, suffer pain from many
    sources, not health related and then they will die at a relatively young
    age. If it were not for that, than I
    would be happy for these women and agree that they are beautiful.

  • justmyopinion

    I will disagree with many regards; one that this just displays one alley of all of women’s struggles with the mainstream. What about racial differences, all natural, stature, or sexism? Until you can look at ANYONE without needing to feel that you should be impressed, or until art isn’t biased to bells and whistled when it comes to commercially picturing women, we are still objectifying their bodies. I should be able to look at your eyes and accept your beautiful soul. You shouldn’t need to prove anything else because we are equal. It sends mixed messages to me, it says you have to be sexy to be beautiful.

  • stacy elaine dacheux

    Great dialogue, everyone! I would love to hear more about your thoughts on beauty and/or objectification as you feel it relates to this series. What does beauty mean to you? Is it sexual? Showy? Or somehow more intimate? Let’s keep talking and sharing.

  • Mala

    Attraction is largely based on our natural instinctive reactions. Most of us are naturally attracted to fit, strong and healthy bodies that appear to show signs of long lasting biological sustenance. I may have been conditioned by the media to find thin girls attractive, however, I am not attracted to these ladies because they appear to be very unhealthy and seem to have made poor life choices, not solely because they are obese. Glorifying this type of body is like glorifying smoking. Very few people with bodies this size existed 100 years ago. Should society change it’s perceptions of the body, or should obese people change perceptions of themselves and work towards maintaining a healthy body. I find this whole debate really interesting.

    Perhaps we should focus our attention on the medias portrayal of the three NATURAL body types, ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph.

  • Health?

    Is anyone going to mention the health implications on celebrating this form of the human body?

  • Cecilia

    There was a time when fuller, fleshier, curvier bodies were appreciated, celebrated, and desired. Those bodies were considerd feminine and strong and fecund and beautiful. No man ever had to justify WHY he loved the women who owned those bigger bodies. But they do today. If a man loves bigger women today, he’s considered some kind of freak. So many bend to societal pressure and keep that desire under wraps. And to me, this is how a fetish begins. They end up having a shame around their natural and healthy desire for these big gals, and in the dark recesses of the mind, that shame mutates into something else entirely. And many women end up with body shame, and feelings of insecurity and self loathing, too, because often men want desperately to be with them — but just not in public. How does that help anyone? If you are not considered beautiful by society’s standards, and you are attracted to bodies other than those that have society;’s seal of approval, you are not NORMAL. It’s okay for us to idealize big boobed blondes, unless that big boobed blonde also has a big butt and waistline. I agree obesity is not healthy. But deriding big women for loving themselves as they are will not help them lose weight or get healthier if that’s what they want. I can tell you from experience that being able to lose a significant amount of weight while increasing fitness comes from self love, not self loathing. Tell me how many kind and loving things you do voluntarily for people you detest? That’s my opinion.

  • plumifera

    I am so glad this conversation is coming up, because when I saw his work the first time I though the same than Dacheux.

    His views in my opinion are more like the hunter/ photographer who goes to Africa to take pictures or kill some animals, and then take a picture with his trophy. Or the colonial mentality from the past and sometimes still in use, where other cultures are seen as the animals from the zoo. You know what I mean? Nothing to do with “protesting for body discrimination”. More about shocking imagery perhaps to get into a gallery.

    Maybe it’s better to see it as a male view’s of obese women and obviously him being supportive of all kinds of bodies. Still it falls short, psychologically speaking.

    I bet his wife is skinny you know?

  • plumifera

    It’s interesting to me that the artist didn’t touch this topic, like health is not important for these women? Do you think they don’t worry about it? He obviously see them as still lives. :(

  • plumifera

    You guys should see the work of artist Jen Davis about this topic, more psychology to it, much more deep since it touches how obese women feels about it, you know. Herself is obese so she has to live/ struggle with it.

  • Jordan

    **Glorifying this body is like glorifying smoking cigarettes** (I am both)

    Those of you who know me 1. Know that I am a large woman 6ft tall 300lbs. Pear shape (thank God) 2. Know I am a
    hobby photographer- With that being said. I KNOW that my weight is a
    problem. (I’m working on the
    smoking-down to 2/3 a day) While I’m ALL about society embracing the
    “non-Barbie figure” This artist I feel didn’t do diligence. He looked at
    these woman as still life photography with no souls. What is their
    story? Maybe these woman are “proud” of their bodies, who knows. Truth
    is most people don’t want to see that! I’m fat and I don’t want to see
    it. If you are going to remain a fat girl you need to know how to
    properly dress, as well as take the criticism with a grain of salt.
    Maybe one day I will do something about my fat. But for now, I will hide
    behind my Spanx and my fabulous clothes. The reason there is a stigma about obese men/woman is because health, and it’s unattractive. Two HUGE reasons to work against the fat. I’m a hypocrite because I know these things yet I do nothing about it. I try here and there then give up. I’ve always been a big girl. I am not comfortable in my body, I am not proud of my body, and I have ALWAYS wondered what I’d look like in a size 12. Luckily I’m portioned evenly, and I’m tall. That helps. But I’m 27, as I age-if I do nothing… I’ll get nothing in return and end up nothing in a nothing box.

  • Sarah

    This is my thoughts exactly whenever I hear people talking about how we should be celebrating and embracing “real” or bigger body types but then they show the extreme side of that. Yes many men and women are naturally bigger and no one should have to feel ashamed of that, but we should not celebrate obesity because it is not healthy and therefore, not something to strive for as a society because it can lead to suffering and disease, etc. as you pointed out. You can be beautiful no matter what size you are, but I believe we should always strive to better ourselves no matter what and to me, health is the most important thing.
    It is very difficult to be happy when you are not healthy…and everyone deserves to be happy and enjoy their life! :)

    I get it though, people are making art about this with the hopes that the more comfortable we get with seeing this imagery, hoping it will discourage people from shaming/looking down on/bullying people with different bodies, especially since some people have health problems that they have no control over that cause them to gain a lot of weight. People can be so cruel and quick to judge just because someone doesn’t look a certain way. It is sad and ignorant.

    Wow, sorry for the long rant. lol Just my thoughts.

  • Jacob

    Yeah, my mom gained a lot of weight because she has hypothyroidism. They kept misdiagnosing her for years and no matter what she did, she could not lose weight and kept getting bigger and lots of people would judge her or make comments about her weight thinking that it was her fault for eating too much or being lazy or something. It is really sad how stupid and mean people are. It makes me sick. We should be kind to everyone regardless of what they look like.

    The women in these photographs are obviously not healthy. I hope that they are happy though and that they are able to find a way to get healthier so they can live longer without pain :( These photos just make me sad. They are still beautiful women but I would be miserable if I were that overweight…

  • Blake G.

    I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Sarah

    Historically curvier women were celebrated as ideal because they were considered the most fertile or built with the best bodies for giving birth and all that. Also, fat was valued because living was much more difficult and they burned a lot more energy with hard work and traveling so it was thought that more fat would help you survive longer. Now though, we have evolved as a society where the majority of people are not burning many calories everyday because we do not do much physical labor and we drive everywhere.
    These women are obviously not healthy and although they should not be made to feel ashamed of their bodies, these photographs make me feel nothing but sadness for these women and for the suffering that they are surely going through or will go through if they are not given help to address their health problems/obesity.
    It seems like these photos were really just taken for shock value or for an easy exhibit because they knew it would get a lot of attention and be displayed in galleries or be talked about. It is almost disrespectful to these women. I feel like the artist used them. To me, it is a person’s character that defines their beauty. I really don’t care much about physical appearance apart from if a person is healthy. For instance, I would not want to start a family with someone who I know is not healthy because they will probably not live as long and could pass on things to our children that will make their lives more difficult.
    Some of these women are sexy, but they could probably be much more happy if they were able to lose weight. I doubt that they enjoy being obese. It would have been different if the artist had taken photos of women of all shapes and sizes, skinny and big, and naturally larger women, not necessarily the extremely obese…but that has already been done many times so either way, they aren’t really adding much to the conversation…it feels disingenuous.

  • Montana

    You are absolutely right that at a time rounder women were much more appreciated, but they were certainly not as huge as some of these women here, which woluld never even survive in those harsh days. Big women are beautiful for sure but only up to a certain point, same goes for leam women of course. Anyway beauty is always subject to debate, where health is not.