All posts in the photographs category

Real Women/Fake Women

Published May 1, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I want to share a photograph with you all:


This one popped up on my Tumblr last week, and someone else posted a link to it via Twitter as well.  I have been able to find that the model’s name is Natasha Poly and the image is from a shoot by Mario Sorrenti for Vogue Paris.

I want to point out a few things about this photograph, from a high fashion magazine.  Because I believe that the woman in this photograph looks like a concentration camp victim with a fake tan.   Now before you get all angry about that statement, read the rest of this blog post.

I would never presume to comment on another woman’s body, or suggest that a thin woman is unhealthy or ugly or anything else derogatory.  But I am going to say it about this photograph, because what we’re looking at is NOT Natasha Poly in her natural state.  It is not the woman we are looking at, but a fashion magazine’s representation of her.  We’re not looking at a real woman any more in this case.

I want you to look carefully at the photograph.  I’ll point out a few things for you.

Let’s start with the rib cage area.  Can you see the the highlights in the fake tan to define each and every rib?  Look down her right arm.  See the white highlight again, to make her arm look thin?  You will also see them on her left shoulder, collarbone and cheek bone.  And the really worrying bit?  That wee fair spot right on her right hip bone.

It also has darker patches of tan in key places.  Under the cheek bone, between the V’s of her ribcage, on the inside of her thigh, inside of her arms and a streak down the outside of her left leg.

All of this is to make the model, who I am sure is beautiful on her own, look even thinner and taller than she actually is.

Now look at some of the angles of her body.  The angle where her right hip meets her leg.  Or her waist on her left, down to the bikini string.  Take a look at her right shoulder, lifted to her chin.  Now at her right armpit around her inner arm and to her breast.  Look carefully at her left collarbone.  And finally, have a look at the length of her right lower leg.

Can you see the evidence of photoshopping there?  How the parts of her body are out of proportion or at angles that don’t fit with other angles of her body.

And of course, there’s the lighting (both real and photoshopped) that highlights the bones in her body to almost skeletal detail.

Models are beautiful women and they’re the rare examples of human beings that are tall, slim and even featured.  They’re gorgeous, and that’s why they’re models.  But what is happening more and more overtly is the twisting of the features of women in photographs, due to make-up, lighting, tanning products and poses and due to post production work with Photoshop and the like.  Real women are being turned into these ideals that are wholly unreal, and as far as I’m concerned, freak shows.

This is why I believe we have to use the term “real women” – because what we’re being presented is not in any way real at all.

It’s horrifying that even the tall, slender, beautiful models aren’t good enough any more.  They have to be painted and manipulated into taller, thinner, more unobtainable standards that no human can emulate without doing some serious damage to themselves.

What’s next for fashion magazines?  Avatar style CGI work that in no way resembles a human being?

I believe we need to stop worrying about offending each other with talking about bodies in the media and whether they are too thin or too fat, and focus on the work that is being done to images of real women, regardless of their shape and size, that takes them from photographs of real women, to caricatures of women.  Because we women are not characters, we’re people, and we shouldn’t be sold what I think of as “lies of beauty”.  This is not beauty.  Beauty is human and flawed and varied.  It’s not a set of treatments in a photo editing programme.

This is being held up to young women as the beauty ideal.  Looking at images that have been “doctored” like this and expecting their own bodies to look like this if they just stick to that diet, just do some exercise is making women and girls both physically and emotionally sick.  This is one of the reasons why in western culture, girls with perfectly healthy bodies think that they are fat, and why so many boys and men have an unrealistic ideal of the female body.

We are being presented a fake version of womanhood with photos like the above.

Instead of bickering over what constitutes a real woman or not, let’s just draw the line in the sand – real is how any given woman is in the flesh so to speak, even those who have had cosmetic surgery (which I personally don’t believe in, but those who’ve had it are still real women, we didn’t make them up in our heads) or are transgender, and anything doctored, altered, adjusted, photoshopped, edited or airbrushed away from that is unreal/fake/false.

In the case of this example I’m sharing with you, Natasha Poly is a real woman – that image above is not.

I want to see real women in fashion, beauty, entertainment, marketing and the media.  Women that should I meet them face to face, what I see is what was on the page and/or screen, not the unedited version of something that they are not and that nobody could possibly be.

Fuck You

Published February 23, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I was just going to post a quick video tonight because I’ve not been well for a couple of days (just a stupid head cold, somebody breathed their germs on me) but I came across this little bit of insanity and just had to share it.

It’s a blog post on a website called Pure Fashion for Plus SizeWomen

Let’s hit you up with the link so you can go and have a look:

Non Slimming Fashion: Bold but not so Beautiful

Ok, now you can take a few deep breaths, pick your jaw up off the ground and give yourself a good mental shake.

Can you believe it?

This is a blog that is supposed to be body positive, and all it does is post a whole pile of fat hatred, spouting how fatties should be dressing “slimming” and “flattering” and actually shames a whole bunch if innocent fatshionistas that they actually STOLE the photographs from.  You heard it right – none of the women in the photographs listed as what fatties shouldn’t do in the name of fashion were asked permission to publish their photographs.  Well, none that have come forward anyway, but I’m pretty sure it’s a safe bet.  Not to mention that they’ve used photographs from various other catalogues and sites and there seems to be no permission on those either.

Yeah – fat women should be in black or navy shapeless sacks, hiding ourselves from the world because you don’t like seeing fat bodies.  Fuck you, I say.

It would be good if you all left a comment over there stating just how wrong this kind of post is, and if any of your photos are on there, demand that they take them down and publish an apology (and know that you look fabulous, no matter what those douchebags say).

Too Many Arseholes

Published January 23, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I can feel a bit of a rant coming on.  I’ve been feeling it building for awhile lately, noticing something happening and becoming more socially acceptable as more and more people get into things like Facebook, Twitter, blogging, YouTube etc.  And it sucks, so I think it’s time to speak up about it.

The thing that I find really, deeply offensive that a lot of people seem to think is ok, is this practice of photographing or video recording complete strangers, and then putting that image/footage up on the internet with criticism about their clothes, body, hair, etc.

I don’t know what goes through people’s heads when they think it’s ok to do this.  To snap a pic on their phone of someone who is wearing a very short skirt and post it to Twitter, to take pics of people in Walmart and send them to a blog that does nothing but ridicule complete strangers, to video some drunk stranger in a bar and post it to their YouTube.  To photograph a fat person or someone they consider ugly and post it saying “Look at this hideous person!”

Do they think the subject doesn’t know?  Quite often they do know.  And usually they’re too upset, horrified and embarrassed to say “Hey, fuck you douchebag!”  Or even if they don’t know this is being done to them, what happens when some friend or relative says “I saw a photo of you on the internet!”

Do the people who post these things even give a second of thought as to what happens to that photo as soon as it’s uploaded?  Or do they not give a shit at all?

Thing is, doing stuff like that is pure and simple douchebaggery.  Even if someone does have a really freaky outfit, or they’re dancing like a drunken fool – who are you to photograph/record them and post it to the internet for people to laugh at?  Have you never had a shit fashion moment?  Do you not have flaws about your body or looks?  Never made an idiot of yourself at a bar or a party?  How would you feel if someone posted pics or photos of you like this?

Thing is, I know what it feels like.  It happened to me.  I got on the train one morning to go to work, minding my own business, and there were a group of young guys, about 18-20 years of age.  One of them thought it would be REALLY funny to photograph the fat lady (me) and text it around to the other guys.  I knew he was doing this, but I was so embarrassed, mortified and hurt that I wasn’t able to say anything to them.  This was pre-confident, assertive me.  All I could do was try very, very hard not to cry while they made barking noises and looked at each others phones, knowing full well it was me they were texting around.

By the time I got to work I was a mess.  Sobbing my heart out.  I was lucky, my colleagues were super supportive, and one of my bosses at the time asked me lots of questions about what the guys were wearing, what they looked like.  For some reason, I remembered a logo on their shirts.  She Googled it, found the company and called them, demanding to speak to the manager.  She got him.  She told him in no uncertain terms that she wanted answers and that she wasn’t going to rest until someone was held responsible for this douchebag behaviour.  She was AWESOME.

The upshot was, the manager worked out who it was, put the guys on performance management and in his words “Tore them each a new arsehole.”

But not everyone is able to see anything being done about when it happens to them and they know it.  To this day, I don’t know if there are photographs of me still on people’s phones, still going around, or if they’re going to pop up on the internet.  It still makes me feel bad, and I’m a hell of a lot more self confident and assertive now than I was then.

I don’t care if you’re a woman doing it just to criticise someone’s fashion choices.  That’s no better than photographing someone you think is fat or ugly or any other reason – it’s all ridicule.  And it’s douchebag behaviour.

Maybe it’s because the paparazzi are so well ensconced in our culture now, that people think it’s ok to whip their camera phones out and photograph strangers.  You know what?  The paparazzi suck.  Even though they’re often stalking people who have chosen to live their lives in the public eye, they still suck for harassing those people, for stalking them and for making money off the negative stuff about those people.

But someone just photographing or filming a complete stranger on the street or in a shop, bar, or any other public place with the intent to post those pictures publicly and ridicule or criticise them is nothing short of a complete and utter arsehole.

Stop doing it.  Stop supporting it on websites and blogs that collate this kind of shit.  Stop being an arsehole.  You’ll thank me for the good karma later.

A Few of My Favourite Things

Published November 22, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Over on Fat Positive Feminism, Ali has done a fabulous post on a few of her favourite fat positive things.  I liked the idea so much, I thought I might do it myself.

So here are some fat positive things that I class as my favourites.

Queen Latifah


The name Queen really fits this lady.  She’s so regal, so elegant, yet so real and down to earth.  Not only can she sing, act, dance, carry comedy and looks fantastic in anything, she’s also an awesome role model for young women.

Leonard Nimoy’s Full Body Project

Fat women as they are, natural, beautiful and with dignity.  And yes, the photographs are taken by Leonard “Mr Spock” Nimoy!

Big Girl, You are Beautiful by Mika

This isn’t the correct version of the music video, but the correct version can’t be embedded.  But you get the idea.  A positive portrayal of fat women!

We Love Colors

An online shop that REALLY does cater to the plus sized market.  Their tights are well made, fit well and go to a very large size.  And the colours… oh the colours!

The Corrinna Chapman books by Kerry Greenwood


Corinna Chapman is a fat woman.  She’s also sexy, successful, loved by friends and her gorgeous, gorgeous boyfriend, funny, smart, talented and kind.  The first book, Earthly Delights opened up a whole new world of fiction for me, fiction where fat women aren’t the lazy, loser friends of the heroines.

The Fat Nutritionist

This lady is AWESOME.  Not only is she a fabulous fat activist, but she’s also changing attitudes within her profession on nutrition and diet, as well as exercise.  Plus she’s a very lovely person too.

Beth Ditto


I am a latecomer to the love of La Ditto.  At first I didn’t really dig her, I just thought she was someone that fatties glommed onto simply because she was “not thin”.  But then I saw this interview with her, and my opinion of her radically changed.  I’ve since got into her music with The Gossip, and I get her so much more.  Cool lady.

Elizabeth Patch’s More to Love

Pretty, feminine art depicting beautiful women with full, fat bodies, living their lives with positivity.

Evans Clothing

Not only do they cater to the plus sized market at a reasonable price, AND ship internationally, but they get some very cool ladies on board to promote, design and model their clothing.  Beth Ditto has a range.  Crystal Renn is a regular model.  Chaka Khan is the face (and bodacious bod) of their latest line.  These are clothes I like to see and want to wear.

So, now I throw it over to you.  What are some of your favourite things that are fat positive?  Clothes, celebrities, art, literature, music, you name it – share it in the comments.

Smile and say CHEESE!

Published August 17, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Hands up if you hate having your photograph taken?

My hand is half way up. I don’t hate it like I used to, but I’m still not entirely comfortable with it. For many years of my life I simply refused to allow it, and if I found any photos of me, I destroyed them, even when they weren’t mine to destroy. My self esteem was at such a low place that I couldn’t bear the thought of there being a photographic record of me.
It started when I gained weight at the onset of puberty and really stuck around until my early 30’s. I had a couple of patches where I softened my stance a wee bit, I have a few photos of my late teens where I was very happy nannying for friends of mine, and then again in my mid 20’s when I had moved back to Brisbane and away from my family. But I ebbed back into it with an abusive relationship and only really found myself allowing to be photographed a few years ago.
I have a friend and colleague who is an extremely talented photographer, and he taught me a lot of little tips and tricks about being photographed that have given me confidence in allowing photographs to be taken, and I’m much more relaxed about it now than I have ever been.
However, I still feel the need to vet every photo of myself that I see. I look at them and criticise myself SO harshly. Even though in my rational mind, I know this is pointless and does more damage than good. I know I should be looking at photographs of myself and seeing the things I love about myself rather than the things I hate. But even though I know this, I still look and think things like “My hair looks cute but how fat does my arse look?” or “This would be a good photo if only you couldn’t see my double chin.”
So how do you deal with it, my fellow fatties? Do you not allow photos at all? Do you like being photographed? If you do, what made you like it? What gives you confidence in being photographed? And when you see photographs of yourself, are you critical of them or do you see the positives?
And because I’m a generous woman, I’m going to give you all the tips my photographer friend has given me for flattering photographs:
  1. Pose. If you try to avoid being photographed, people will try to paparazzi you, and you’ll end up with lots of really unflattering photos. Say yes, and ask the photographer to give you a second to get ready to be photographed.
  2. If you are seated at a table, move a glass or mug to one side in front of you. Then reach over and touch it with the hand on the opposite side. (If it’s in front of your left breast, touch it with your right hand and vice versa – best to hold it as if you are about to pick it up). This straightens your spine and puts one shoulder slightly forward, which elongates your neck.
  3. Just before the photo is taken, run your tongue over your teeth, and then smile, with your tongue resting behind your top teeth. This makes your teeth look shiny when the photograph is taken, and makes you subconsciously lift your chin.
  4. Another good thing to do is close your eyes and blink slowly, looking straight at the camera. This eases red-eye and prepares you for your photo.
  5. If you can, stretch before the photo is taken. It straightens your spine. (A straight spine is a good thing in a photo – posture is flattering!)
If you have any more tips for achieving photographs that make you feel great, share ’em!

Be Good to Your Daughters… And Your Sons Too

Published July 21, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Well here I am, back at Fat Heffalump. Tonight I want to talk a bit about the messages we give to young girls about their bodies, and weight. And while I’m at it, you’re going to get to see some photos of me when I was a munchkin.

Let’s start with this one:
I think I’m about 7 years old in this one.
I can remember, from a very early age – about 5 or 6 is my first memory of it, being told by my parents that I was fat. I was called porky, told I had “lead in my arse” because I was “so heavy” and couldn’t run fast, and of course I’ve mentioned earlier my brother’s taunts of “fat heffalump” and “tub of lard”.
I did have a barrel shape (no waist at all), but how many girls before puberty do have waists?
And consequently, I believed it. All my life. I believed it right up until I found the photo above, about six months ago in a box of old photo albums.
Can I ask you something. Is that little girl there fat? Does the child in the photo above look fat to you?
What about this one?
I think I’m about 9 or 10 in this one. Would you say fat there?
Here I am just before puberty hit me:
Age 11. Just before my 12th birthday. Jesus look at those legs. Fat legs? I don’t think so.
So what are people telling girls that look like this, that they’re fat? Why was a girl of this body shape, being led to believe that there was something wrong with her? Maybe it was in jest. Maybe it was a way to “keep her in her place” and not let her get “too many tickets on herself.” But I think it’s a seriously sad reflection on people’s attitudes that anyone could think a girl with this body could be considered fat.
In that last photograph, I was taller than my aunt, who is 5’2″. Very tall for an 11 year old girl. I towered all of my classmates. I stopped growing in height by the time I was 13, and I’m 5’6″ now. I was the tallest girl in my class for a long time, until the others caught up later on in their teens. Consequently, I needed women’s sized clothing, from a very young age, otherwise I’d have been exposing what was at the top of those long legs! If I remember correctly, that school uniform was a women’s size 10 (Australian), a bit loose around the middle and under the arms, yet that’s pretty proportionate for a 5’2″ female body about to sprout boobs and stuff.
Yet I remember my mother complaining in shops that I shouldn’t be in women’s clothing. Girls in school made fun of me because I shopped in the ladies wear section. I was referred to as a “big girl”. However I look at those photos and I don’t think I was big at all. Tall yes, but certainly not big or fat.
But of course, I did get fat. Puberty hit just after my 12th birthday, and boy did it hit hard. Within 12 months of that last photo above, I actually was a fat girl. A fat girl with all sorts of hormonal shit going on (I won’t go into the gory details but let’s just say that I know now that it wasn’t normal). I also had D cup breasts by the time I was 13 and they weren’t just fat. Even in my late teens when I dropped a lot of weight, I still had huge breasts.
Consequently, I don’t have any photos of me in my teens. There is the odd school class photo, but until I turned 18, there really weren’t any photos taken of me. I wouldn’t allow it. And there were huge chunks of my life since then that I wouldn’t allow photos to be taken of me, because I believed I was hideous and didn’t want any record. Those were also the years that I was sticking my fingers down my throat to purge anything I ate.
Nowdays, I relish having my photo taken. I love to have those reminders of the times in my life, the outfits I wear, the laughs that I have. Here I am today (well, ok, a couple of weeks ago, smart arses):
Me - 2009
Oh yes, I am a fat lady. By many labels, I am “morbidly obese” – do I look morbid to you? I am probably at the fattest I have ever been (give or take a bit!) but I’m also at the happiest I have ever been, because my worth is no longer measured by the number on a set of scales, the tag on my clothing, or the size of my body.
My worth is measured by the size of my heart, the number of beloved people in my life, the use of my brain, the strength of my laugh and the depth of my respect for others and myself.
We need to think about what we say to our children. Not just the girls, but they do cop the double whammy because of the whole sexualisation thing, as well as body image. Even if they are fatter than their peers, instead of crushing them down with criticisms, we should be building them up with encouragement and strong self esteem. I can’t say I wouldn’t be fat if I hadn’t been criticised so much as a child (remember those hormonal problems I mentioned), but I can say I wouldn’t have done so much damage to my body with crash diets and eating disorders. I can say I wouldn’t have wasted so many years hating myself, and would have achieved so much more in life had I been allowed to believe in myself.