Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

July 1, 2009

Big Girls in Art: Substantia Jones

Filed under: Art — Francesca @ 8:48 am

Francesca knows that she promised a sculpture series, but that involves sifting through her notes and emails and bookmarks, and frankly it is too hot outside.  When the temperature dips below that of the surface of the sun, she will consider it.

Meanwhile, she must point you to the fat-tastic Adipositivity Project of the talented photographer Substantia Jones. The name comes from “adipose tissue,” ie fat, and positivity, ie celebrate! Some of the very few safe-for-work examples:







Francesca notes that as a matter of policy, Jones has left out the models’ faces in order to “coax observers into imagining they’re looking at the fat women in their own lives, ideally then accepting them as having aesthetic appeal which, for better or worse, often translates into more complete forms of acceptance.”

Francesca rather wishes she had included the faces as a way of forcing viewers to confront the woman in her entirety, with each subject’s face and personality and unique visage represented along with her body. We get enough “headless fatties” in media reports about obesity. Fat women, say “this is me!”

What say you? Is leaving out the faces a good artistic decision? A good political one?  Does intent matter in cases like this?


  1. I agree, this is very “Headless fatty”. I always compare it to racism – would anybody do an anti-racism project in which they would just show different skin-colored people without heads? Wouldn’t that really upset people?

    Why do we have to reduce ourselves to our size?

    I don’t think this will help at all. These pictures will end up on websites of dumb, ignorant people who will make fun about the wobbly bits of those lovely ladies.

    Comment by ali — July 1, 2009 @ 9:29 am

  2. I don’t like it either, how strange to keep a person, any person in peaces. And that is one of the comments that hurt my big teens the most: “what a pity she is fat, because if you look at her face only she would be quite pretty”… we are all a whole human being, ali’s comment is sooooo correct. Besides social/esthetical/artistic/political standards, each aspect of the person is supposed to fit its specific acceptable averages?

    Comment by aliki — July 1, 2009 @ 11:43 am

  3. I am not english-speaking… and yet I am laughing that I wanted to write “pieces” and wrote “peaces”…

    Comment by aliki — July 1, 2009 @ 11:44 am

  4. I think I understand Substantia Jones’ artistic decision, and I think her intention shows in the vast majority of her work, but I do wish she would use faces. I think as a political decision, it’s a poor one, particularly in the clothed pictures.

    It’s easier to see the revolutionary nature of her work in the nudes and semi-nudes. After all, ‘headless fatty’ pics in anti-obesity articles never feature naked flesh. They feature poorly-dressed people. Substantia Jones’ semi-nudes wear elegant, floaty lingerie that fits properly, so the intent shows immediately.

    But in the end, I’d rather see a face. I’d rather look at a full person. I think that’s even more confrontational than naked flesh.

    Do I appreciate what Substantia Jones is doing? Absolutely. Do I love her work? Not always, but a fair chunk of it, yes. Do I think it’s important? Yes. Do I think someone needs to do this from another angle – one including a face? Hell to the yes.

    Comment by Twistie — July 1, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

  5. i think i understand what substantia was going for, and i appreciate it intellectually… but emotionally i too am drawn to faces. it’s not the artist’s fault if douchetastic people take her work out of context (i’m sure ali’s right about jerks responding to individual pix with appropriation and ewwww) but it’s also my prerogative to like what i like! and i do respond viscerally to people’s eyes and expressions.

    Comment by marjorie — July 1, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

  6. I think I’m with Marjorie and Twistie on this. I appreciate what Ms. Jones is going for, but I would really love to see that the woman in the floaty lingerie is giving a “come hither” look (or maybe she feels shy and is looking away so we see her profile, that’d be good too) and that the two women in their beautiful dresses are having a blast and laughing.

    The possibilities make me really wish I was a photographer!

    Comment by ChristianeF — July 1, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

  7. As a Fat woman I have always been told “you have such a beautiful face, If only you lost weight”, so in my opinion I feel Substantia is making you look at our bodies in a new light to find beauty in individual aspects of our bodies rather than the obvious aspect. I also feel this project is about all fat women and not just one individual fat woman and by showing a face you are individualizing the fat.

    I also wonder if the desire to see faces is more about our natural curiosity rather than the belief that the face would enhance the artists point of view.

    P.S. I’m one of Substantia’s Adiposers

    Comment by Catherine — July 2, 2009 @ 12:18 am

  8. share you some great wallpapers

    Comment by wallpaper — July 2, 2009 @ 2:01 am

  9. I’m one of Subtantia’s adiposers too. And I wouldn’t have posed, had my face been part of the deal. As it was I got a huge buzz from reading a comment from a woman who said observing the similarities between my body and hers had made her see the beauty in hers and, by extension, find it in all the other images too. That’s precisely why why I wanted to be a part of the project. If I’d wanted to cast come hither glances in my undies I’d post pics on a fat admirers’ site but that really isn’t my bag. I realise fat admirers love Adipositivity too, and that’s fine and fair enough but, primarily, I see it as an exercise in helping women be kinder to themselves and each other.

    Comment by buffpuff — July 3, 2009 @ 8:14 am

  10. I too am an AdiPoser and one of the few AdiPosers of Color (but this is quickly changing to my delight!). My face is show in some of my fotos and in other fotos it is not. As the daughter of an artist I appreciate art in all its dynamic and various forms. The fact that this project has resulted in numerous folks discussing and viewing it is amazing. My belief is that art is to promote a thought, idea, expression, produce knowledge. This is what the Adipositivity Project is doing and has done.

    I also think every inch of my body is gorgeous–not just my face. Why not celebrate the many women who have the courage to contact Substantia and show their bodies to the world and realize the power, strength, and social change that they are a part of versus critiquing her overall goal? I can only begin to imagine how her project has challenged the ideas of what is beauty and what is erotic. I have a hard time finding erotic images of women of Color who are fat which is one of the reasons I posed for the project.

    For many AdiPoser’s taking off their clothing for a camera is liberating. For others it’s just another day. But for all of us, it was hard work! I’ve modeled before, but never like this. The level of comfort posers must have with their body, the goal of the project is just the tip of the entire experience! We must also have endurance and stamina. Finding the right light, where exactly the hand must go, or how the foot can bend, or what clothing to avoid so that marks are not left in our skin for too long, that’s hard work! High-5 to all the hard working AdiPosers and those of you who will be AdiPosers soon!

    If anyone reading this thread wants to pose you can contact Substantia on the email address she provides on the site.

    Comment by bianca — July 5, 2009 @ 1:15 pm

  11. While I understand there is beauty in all shapes and sizes, I just don’t quite understand the point to this website. Okay, you are big and beautiful. I get it.. but what really needs to get addressed is that being overweight is not SEXY!!!
    It is DANGEROUS! Is danger sexy?? I suppose in some crowds yes.
    Obesity is an epidemic in this country. Being overweight increases your risks of various ailments, such as cancers, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, PMS, stroke. etc……..

    Why is obesity being promoted?

    Comment by Dorado — July 11, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  12. I wrote about this project on my blog:

    As I say in my post, I am all for the anonymity in these pictures. Substantia says she did it so we can imagine how we view the fat women in our lives. But more importantly, we can imagine ourselves. There are very few opportunities to really see what a wonderfully imperfect body looks like. If we can look at one of Adipositivity’s rolly, dimpled bodies and see that it is beautiful, then it stands to reason that we can look at our own rolly, dimpled bodies and see ourselves as beautiful.

    And Dorado, while I do not exist to arouse you, I felt compelled to point out that I am overweight and I am sexy. I am unfathomably, uncontrollably sexy. My arse breaks hearts.

    One other thing, Dorado, since I am intrigued that your attraction to people is inextricably linked to their health. A family history of health disease/diabetes/mental illness/cancer greatly increase one’s chances of contracting those diseases, whether they are fat or not. I suppose your penis/lady parts spurn them too, because of their inherently unsexy danger…?

    Comment by Frances — July 14, 2009 @ 12:16 am

  13. It started headless because the photographer started the site with only photos of herself (nearly a hundred before another woman was involved) and made the claim that there were many women in the photos – she eventually added other women, but the site, with all the photoshopping, wreaks of dishonesty. What else can you expect from a narcissist?

    Comment by ss — August 15, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

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