Sometimes I think I have no idea what I actually look like. I think this is partly where my love of unflattering photographs comes from -- they’re “unflattering,” sure, but I also do look like that sometimes. And it’s okay! It’s okay that I look terrible sometimes, because everybody does, and social pressures aside, none of us are technically under any kind of martial law requiring that we look good 100% of our lives.
My curiosity on this point is not for lack of effort. I’m not a mirror-avoider by any means. Indeed, if anything, I’m mirror-obsessed: if there’s a reflective surface in my eyeline, I am probably trying to catch my own reflection in it. Some will call this vanity, but I recognize it as just another manifestation of my lifelong interest in trying to see myself as other people see me.
It never works, of course. Anyone who looks at anyone brings their own background to the table, and we can never know what people really think of us. Which is a good thing. And those times that I do manage to momentarily trick myself, when I spy a woman reflected in a window that I don’t immediately recognize as myself, I always think, oh hey, who’s that brazen ass-swingin’ dress-wearin’ broad over there? She's fantastic! DAMN, IT’S ME. Because I, too, bring my own background to my perception of everyone I see, and years of seeking out radical images of everyday people who aren’t models has trained my brain to appreciate how gorgeous humanity is because of our diversity, not in spite of it.
Still, I have days when I wonder what my butt really looks like, at least what it looks like when seen not from my perspective, three feet up and looking over my shoulder into a mirror. It turns out taking a picture of your own butt is nearly impossible -- as Emily asserted in literally the first thing she ever wrote for xoJane -- so on those days I go and look at other people's butts on The Adipositivity Project, a photo series that the magnificent Substantia Jones has been working on since 2007. It is bonkers not safe for work, but it is also a perspective-challenging collection of photographs, many of them nude or semi-nude, of fat people of all shapes and sizes.
I had to pick images that are clothed for this piece, but trust me, there's a whooole lotta nakedness going on over there.
Adipositivity is also running a print sale at present, but it ends tomorrow, so get on it if you want to support this amazing work.
And that’s my awesome contribution for this week. What awesome thing are you excited about right now?