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Susan Stinson

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09:40 am: "Full Body Project" in the New York Times
Here's a link to an article about Leonard Nimoy and the photographs of his "Full Body Project" in the Style section of this Sunday's New York Times.

There are quotes from Heather MacAllister, who, along with other members of her Big Big Burlesque troupe, were subjects of many of the photos. It's great to be seeing her words and her work still moving so strongly out into the world this way.

I was contacted about commenting for the article, but was immersed in a sunlit geyser and pondering the nature of God in Budapest, so missed the deadline for response. I'm sad about that, but was happy to be asked, and a person can't sit by her computer waiting to hear from The New York Times!

The article is excellent overall -- and that, I think, is very important and powerful and part of a process of cultural change that can't come too soon for me. In the spirit of urging that change along, I want to mention that it looked to me, both in the article and the headline, as if the word "girth" (and, once "obese") was being used in place of "fat" or "fatness." I bet that's a matter of editorial policy in the interest of being polite, but it has the opposite effect.* I also feel that, as a reader, I didn't need to know whether the artist has a sexual response to the fat women he photographed -- it was a prurient question out of keeping with the both the attitude of respect at the heart of the photographs and the spirit of the article as a whole.

I love that Nimoy has been willing to look somewhere he never expected to look and, through concerns about how to respectfully photograph a fat nude, was drawn into a serious visual exploration of fat women's bodies. That takes courage and it's a source of enormous pleasure to me to watch it happen through art. And I do, I love the photographs. It's great to see that the work is getting so much attention: it can be viewed in New York, LA, Houston, and there is a book, The Full Body Project, on the way in the fall. In Northampton, the R. Michelson gallery, which is run by Richard Michelson (who writes tough and haunting poetry), has a show up now in tribute to Heather, and will be putting on a major exhibition in conjunction with the publication of the book in November. When I hear more about that, I'll let you know!

*Part of the history of how some change in how the media referred to lbgt people happened was that a media education pamphlet was produced offering guidelines about language for journalists and newspapers; pointing out, for instance, that calling someone "an avowed homosexual" had a very different tone from referring to a person as "openly gay." So, on the long fat liberation to do list, I would like to add that it would be great if someone put together similar guidelines for writing about fat people, fatness and fat liberation.

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[User Picture]
Date:May 20th, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC)
it was me...i only sort of quotes you :) didn't realize the comment came up anonymous, so I didn't get your response.
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