Thursday, January 13, 2011

How To Pose A Fat Girl

by Anthony D Thomas
The idea for this post came from a search phrase that I saw through google analytics- someone who came across my site found it by searching for "tips for posing larger women". Since I also have a boudoir class coming up with the Triad Strobist Meetup group I thought I'd go ahead and tell fat girls how to pose and tell photographers how to shoot fat girls.

In essence: exactly like skinny girls. The idea behind "fat posing" is always one of trying to make the model/client look thinner. In essence- it's the opposite of body acceptance! It's about using camera tricks to make your body look like someone else's body under the false  idea that a slimmer body is a better body- a sexier body. Don't shoot fat people from below, don't shoot them from the side (unless it's cleavage, right?) and, for the love of all that is good in the universe, never ever shoot them sitting down and slumped over with their belly rolls hanging over each other. So what's wrong with this picture (or should I say the resulting pictures)?

The thing is- I do have fat rolls. My boobs are small and that means that yes, my belly does stick out in shirts more with no huge tatas to act as tent poles. When I laugh I have a slight double chin and when I put my arms out I have flab. Trying to magic these things away through the use of photoshop and secret mysterious camera angles is  shouting that you're ashamed of your body and want to hide it. Well.. maybe that's what most women do actually want, and yeah.. that's what I wanted most of my life, but I'm not going to advocate for body shame- not now that I've found how wonderful body acceptance can be.

The problem is that we don't treat fat people like they're human beings. We treat them as if they were something to change, to hide, to shame and to eliminate (yes.. I said eliminate. The world is going to be SOL during the next famine when all the fat people are gone). So, my bottom line advice is to treat fat people like you treat everyone else- just like you treat the thin people whom you would never even think of needing "special posing". Let us be who we are. Maybe if we see enough photos that actually look like us we can stop feeling the need to look as good as we do in photos that are half faked.


  1. Wow! This is such an amazing post! I thought I'm confident in the body size I'm in, but, reading this made me reminded me of the instances when I was protective and ashamed of those bulges. I'd like to think I'm on my way to self-acceptance.

    It's so cool to stumble on your blog when I'm about to launch my own virtual niche with similar theme. I've told this idea to Larry Coffey before, methinks. Cheers!

  2. I SO had this conversation with a friend the other day. She maintained (quite rightly) that a photographers job is to make the model look her best, and I agreed. But as a "big lady" I had taken photos of, I heard a hint in her conversation that "looking her best" actually meant "looking as thin as possible" ie, emphasising the angle that made her look her thinnest.

  3. I hope you pointed out how ridiculous that is Peter! Not that many people would listen.. but someone's definitely got to start saying these things. Looking one's best does not mean looking like a different person!

    lornadahl- self acceptance is a long road for all of us.. i don't think there's a single FA activist that doesn't have those bad days of self doubt and loathing.. the key is knowing that those feelings are wrong (they're valid, they just don't reflect reality) and trying to change your own perceptions. It's a battle every day.

  4. I love this post! You go girl! The problem for photographers though, is that we don't know what a large girl really look like herself or to be "liquified" in PS! If more folks were like you, this would not be an issue. I am always amazed when a bride has a little arm flab and wants you to edit each and every photo to make her look like she wants to look...absolutely ridic!

  5. I think it's great that you embrace yourself, but I don't think it's great to judge others or to attempt to force them into positions with which they're not comfortable. If you client wants to be posed in a way that makes them feel sexy, then you should facilitate that. Not everyone is ready to do more.


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