When photographer and activist Substantia Jones began The Adipositivity Project, a running photo series that showcases plus-size bodies in their natural and beautiful habitats, she had one goal.
"I want people to love their bodies and to allow others to love their own. Simple as that," she told Revelist via email.
I spent more than a decade working with live music performances, and observing how audiences responded to artists who were conventionally beautiful, despite their talent or style of music (an unpleasant but unmovable realization). I further came to learn that repeated positive exposure to that which repels you can soften your response to it. I put the two together and launched a self-portraiture blog, which ten years later has become the adorable monster it is today.
Many of her collections are striking — unabashedly sharing bodies of both men and women in all their glory — but her Valentine's series is striking a cord with a ton of people on social media.
Through intimate and highly sexual images, Jones pointed her camera toward plus-size couple with thin partners to prove to haters that everyone has a right to be loved.
And year after year, Jones finds straight, gay, trans, and interracial couples of varying sizes to participate.
Each shot is meticulously taken, making sure that every curve and role is prominent and natural.
"I’ll never understand why so many believe fat people pair up (or should pair up) only with other fat people, and likewise thin with thin..."
...Whom you find attractive is determined by a varied bouquet of factors. Your own size is not among them. You may be looking for kindness in a partner, or squinty eyes (my own personal weakness). You might judge prospective paramours by how much Monty Python they can quote. But hunting for someone who matches your weight? That’s criteria for a see-saw partner. Not love.
Most importantly, couples began reaching out to tell Jones of the major realizations they had about their relationships:
One young [woman] wrote to tell me that she had always assumed he [her partner] was forced to fantasize about thin women when they had sex. Can you imagine? She not only made this tragic assumption, but accepted it as her lot, without question. Their viewing of my photographs prompted a conversation where he revealed to her that he found everything about her sexy, including her fat body. That he in fact felt lucky to have found love with a woman who looked like her. The result was a revelation to them both, and the first thing they did (well, probably the second thing) was to write me and share their story. We had a great conversation about open communication. I’ll never forget those two, and we all hope I’ll be able to photograph them one day.
The photo sessions haven't just inspired the masses — the subjects themselves are often empowered in thanks to the bold images.
"I’ve heard from Adiposers that their participation in the project has resulted in much-needed breakups, at least one marriage, and a number of mended family ties," Jones said.
Overall, Jones says she'll just never understand how anyone could just blindly accept size bigotry.
"The garden variety haters are easier to figure. Most are responding to their own fear and ignorance," she wrote.
The $66 billion/year US weight-cycling industry devotes considerable effort to convincing us that fat people are unhealthy, unworthy, and a list of other negatives. The science of gullibility is both fascinating and vexing. If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that an alarmingly high percentage of the population believes everything they see in print, without application of logic, compassion, or critical thought. Fat phobics are in part responding to the bullshit the billboards are selling them. They’ve being both victimized by commerce and used as tools to victimize others. That’s where my camera and my fat, naked friends come in.