The 'Lustworthy' campaign featuring Jes Baker, and shot by Liora K.
As a fat woman, I rarely see myself represented in popular media – it’s even more difficult to find a situation where my body type is shown in a positive light. And if you were to look for a large female body shown as sexy and desirable? Well, you'd be searching for a long time.
For many years I believed that it was impossible for a short and fat (or socially shunned) woman to date a not short, not fat (or socially worshiped) man. But. This. Is. A. Total. Lie.
It turns out that no body is inferior (and consequently no body is superior), and so all bodies have the opportunity to be paired will all bodies. This isn't an opinion. This is a fact. I see it in my life. I see it in other people's lives. I see it everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except for advertising. So, I’ve been trying, in my own way, to change that.
Photo: Liora K
Back in October PLUS Model Magazine ran a highly stylised and incredibly sexy editorial featuring reality TV star and plus-size model Tiffany Bank, along with former football player Ray Edwards. While I loved the concept and the conversation it sparked, I decided that it was high time we saw unapologetic full-body shots of plus-size people in standardised advertisements too.
That's why I decided to create a series of faux fragrance ads for my blog with the aim of countering the clone-army of online and magazine advertising that bombards us each day. I christened my imaginary fragrance, Lustworthy.
Because we never see desirable beauty products paired with (desirable) plus-size models I knew the photographs would cause a stir on the internet, and that's exactly what happened. The images received a ton of feedback; both elatedly positive and scathingly negative.
The negative responses to these kinds of images are interesting; they are the perfect reminder of why campaigns like this need to happen in the mainstream media. Insults about my fat body being portrayed as sexy highlights the fact that we think that fat women are social failures, valueless, and undesirable. Flipping what's considered "normal" is the only way we can change those attitudes and fat bodies can become as ubiquitous as the socially accepted ideal.
The shoot itself was simple; just the three of us on the only snowy day in Tucson. We headed up the mountain, unsure what we would find and when we ended up in heavy snowfall we just went with it. The picture taking itself was short, as we all became quickly soaked. But the moment was there. The tension was there. The message was there. I wanted to be sure that there was no mistake that the attraction was based on the appearance of the highlighted body shape.
Women with unconventional bodies, are more likely to be told by the world they are good people than anything else. Funny, creative, intelligent, communicative, generous, maybe even extraordinary. What they are NOT told is that their bodies are perfect just the way they are. They are taught that the majority of their worth lies within their physical appearance. Which, of course, is never “good enough” by society’s standards.
The visible fat woman, who is unafraid of her obvious beauty and magnetic sexuality is a woman I want to see around - and I’ll make sure it happens…even if I have to do it myself.
Jes Baker is mental health professional, pastry chef, ex-art major, crazy cat lady, fat model and fiery advocate. She blogs at The Militant Baker.
All photography by Liora K.
You can read about Jes's latest body-positive project, The Body Love Conference, here.