Image description: A close-up of a woman’s hand holding a restaurant menu, with her arms and chin in the background.
Did I tell you about the time I took on Whole30?
One of the dangers of being the only person in the world regularly producing stock images of fat and very fat bodies is that not everyone wants to use them for, shall we say, wholesome purposes.
The license that customers agree to abide by prohibits using Body Liberation Stock images for intentional weight loss and diet promotion, but not everyone reads it, and not everyone intends to respect it.
Unlike the mainstream stock photo sites, though, I have a duty of care to my models, the people who appear in the photos:
> They deserve not to have their bodies used to promote racist, sexist and oppressive beauty standards.
> If people (both models and contributors) don’t feel safe with the way their photos will be used, they’re less likely to want to model.
> If my images are used to promote diets, it dilutes my brand and makes a mockery of everything I stand for.
So I keep an eye on who’s buying images.
Not long ago, someone bought a stock photo using an @whole30.com email address. Well, that’s not going to fly, since Whole30 is the very definition of a diet.
I refunded her money (I’m not a monster), then changed her password so that she couldn’t log back into the account she’d created.
Then I pulled out my handy-dandy copy-and-paste “you may not use images from the site” message and emailed her. And since she’d used a corporate credit card with a different email address, [email protected], what the heck, I cc:ed the headquarters, too.
Chelsea, my would-be customer, emailed me back immediately and indignantly.
“We had planned to use it for an article regarding radical self-love and announcing to our community how our view on bodies has evolved over the past 10 years thanks to our learnings from queer Black femmes in the realm of body positivity, but will no longer move forward with using [the image],” she said.
On the surface, sure, that sounds real nice. See, even Whole30 is changing! They’re different now! It’s not really a diet! It’s just ~taking care of yourself.~
And this is one of the reasons diet culture is so vile. It co-opts the language of justice and uses it to continue hundreds of years of erasure and oppression of fat bodies and the souls who inhabit them.
It’s not about health. It’s about sickening and destroying fat people. All in the pursuit of profit.
In fact, that’s not the only time I’ve had to use my little cease-and-desist letter lately.
A woman recently sent me a long, angry email outlining why I – as a person and a business – was failing at representing very fat people properly in my stock photos, and how as a “professional writer” she was very unhappy with me and my offerings.
After doing a little sleuthing (she’d emailed me using a fake name and her “real” email address), I discovered that this person was actually an amateur fat-hater who writes articles on Medium that vary from “how to lose those last 10 pounds!” to vicious attacks on fat activists.
And the real reason she was upset? Not enough of my photos showed fat enough people to create the visceral reaction of disgust she was hoping to provoke in her readers.
(I won’t link; whatever you’re imagining, it’s probably accurate.)
And this is why I screen my customers. We all deserve better than this.