This post was originally published on February 3, 2015 and updated with seven new photos on February 25, 2016.
“As author Junot Diaz once wrote, if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves,” photographer Substantia Jones explains.
This adage strikes at the core of Jones’ mission as a fat activist and photographer. Eight years ago, she resolved to “subvert the very tool most often used to instill body hate” — photography — and wield it to celebrate fat bodies. (She prefers the term "fat" — a "morally neutral descriptor" — to the term "plus-size," which she sees as more suited to clothing than people.)
Substantia was weary of sizeist representations of larger bodies in the media and the lack of images that depicted fat people as sensual, fulfilled beings. So, she started “The Adipositivity Project,” a photo-activism campaign dedicated to beautiful (and unretouched) photography of fat people of all sexualities, ethnicities, genders, and abilities.
“Adipositivity” derives from the word “adipose” — of or relating to fat — and “positivity,” and indeed, Substantia’s intimate portraits turn the media’s typically dismissive portrayal of fat people on its head. Since The Adipositivity Project launched in 2007, it has featured hundreds of “Adiposers” (those who pose for the project), while its website has received over 10 million visits. We spoke with Substantia about the project and her powerful approach to body politics. Click through to read what this kickass activist has to say and to view images from her couples project, “The Valentine Series.”