“The body, represented in its purely material physicality, gains a power of its own.” John Pultz
I am interested in the way a photograph merges the altered appearance after weight loss, the internal negotiations of this loss, and the shadow of accumulation. The skin is marked and each mark tells a story of loss, gain, and removal. To many who have experienced a significant loss of weight, the body becomes a palimpsest that is simultaneously familiar and alien. The residue of change is not mute. Each mark or fold tells diverse stories in which an individual’s experience can be seen and understood.
Our society often has preconceived notions regarding bodies that may fall outside the norms created by popular culture. This situation creates an inherent struggle between what could be seen as one’s view of self and how individuals look at one another. These photographs explore the various ways in which the models, individuals who have gained and/or lost a large amount of weight, feel empowered and vulnerable. This subset of individuals exist within our society, yet are rarely represented in the media. In most cases, these individuals may only be represented in medical photos which are typically meant to act as a diagram for preparing a body for surgery. Even the current cultural trend of exposing larger bodies to the public does not address the skin’s story—they are airbrushed, smoothed, sanitized.
As a photographer, it is necessary for me to establish a relationship based on trust and understanding with each of my models. I allow each sitter to guide poses and set boundaries regarding each photo shoot. Many of my sitters desire anonymity. Eliminating the face, allows each photograph to focus on the changes of model’s body and skin, as well as giving voice to an underrepresented population.
As someone who lost one hundred pounds in 2010, I have the opportunity to participate in the portraits and represent these individual skin stories with the eyes of acceptance and proof of existence. I am examining the skin’s essence rather than the cultural baggage assigned to weight loss or obesity.