OAC Launches Image Gallery to Reduce Weight Bias!

At our 5th Annual Your Weight Matters National Convention just last August, OAC Chairwoman Amber-Huett Garcia addressed the audience about our five year goals to guide the organization through the year 2021. One of those goals – developed out of a need that often goes overlooked in mainstream society – was to reduce the existence of weight bias by at least ten percent.

People with obesity face weight bias on a daily basis. From the doctor’s office to the workplace, they are constantly met with judgement and stigma. How can we improve the lives of individuals living with obesity if weight bias is so commonplace?

To begin working toward our goal of reducing the prevalence of weight bias, the OAC announced the release of our brand new image gallery on the Saturday night of the Convention. The purpose of the OAC Image Gallery is to help refocus the perception of obesity and change the perception of individuals affected by this chronic disease.

RC-on-setHow can an image gallery tackle such a feat? Think about the kinds of images you see when you search the term “obesity.” Usually, you’ll find pictures of headless subjects eating food in an animated way, or with the camera focused on a specific body part such as their stomach or their feet on top of a scale. Such images are stigmatizing and do nothing to portray who the individual living with obesity really is.

With this image gallery, the OAC aims to share these stories. We’ve created a non-commercial, bias-free collection of stock photos that are FREE and available to the public. Upon completion, the OAC Image Gallery will host more than 4,000 images – making it the largest non-commercial bias-free online stock image gallery. Whether you’re a member of the media or a healthcare professional in need of representing individuals with obesity, this gallery is for you!

To show you the significance of these photos and the importance of reducing weight bias in imagery, we’ve interviewed some of the key players who have helped us create the OAC Image Gallery. Destiny Marie and Larry Davis, two of our models for the gallery, share their experiences of participating in the project and what they hope others will gain from it.

For more information on the OAC Image Gallery, and to access our collection of stock photos, please CLICK HERE.

Destiny Marie portraitDestiny Marie

1. Why did you agree to be a part of this project?

The OAC’s interests are the same as my own. We are interested in what people are doing regardless of their size. Most people are far too quick to dismiss a person’s ability based on their size, but even worse than that, a person with obesity will often do the same thing to themselves. I would like to see more people with overweight and obesity being more active regardless of whether they are trying to lose weight or not – because it’s healthy.

2. How did participating in this project make you feel emotionally/physically?

I feel like I am one step closer to personally reaching people who need my help. The project as a whole is part of a large organization and it can speak to one loud voice. I am also an individual with obesity and that is something very personal to me.

3. What is one thing you realized throughout the duration of this project in regards to focus?

A person is not limited in activity by their waist size. Obesity, though an issue, is actually more commonplace than many people realize. Doctors, train conductors, senators – they are all included. There is no part of American society that is not affected by obesity in some way, and it’s time to do better.

Larry Davis portraitLarry Davis

1. Why did you agree to be a part of this project?

It was great to see that Rafael (RC – the photographer) had a passion for portraying those of us that are heavier in a positive light. When it comes to how we look and how we present ourselves, not all of us wear clothes with parts of our body “spilling out.” We can dress very professionally as well. I know how to pick out something that fits my shape, and this project can deliver that message as well.

2. How did participating in this project make you feel emotionally/physically?

It felt really good. The session made me feel like a star for a day! I had one person carrying my wardrobe and another doing my makeup. This would make a fun, new career! When we were photographing in a sushi restaurant, I could see people looking over and wondering “who is that?” It was also a good laugh because several women in my family have looked into the modeling route, yet RC was focused on me.

3. What is one thing you realized throughout the duration of this project in regards to focus?

I ride 30-40 miles on the weekend. Not all of us have “perfect” bodies. It is also good to show people with obesity in other settings and environments other than fast food chains. The OAC Image Gallery can deliver the message that just because you see a larger person eating fast food, you don’t know their story. Perhaps they’ve just lost 80 pounds and they’ve allowed themselves a “cheat day” for the week or for the month. Additionally, if they are larger than you, SO WHAT? One of the messages I hope to get across with the OAC Image Gallery is that you can still be a “bigger” person and dress the way you want, look the way you want and feel good about it.

 About the Models:

Larry Davis - Image Gallery modelLarry Davis,49, has a wonderful wife and five kids between the ages of 18-26. He runs a company which monitors and maintains office computers for small businesses. Outside of work, he completed a 1/2 Iron Man many years ago but rides 30-40 miles on his bike each weekend. His goal is to get back into great shape once again.

Destiny Marie - Image Gallery modelDestiny Marie is a plus size model who was born in California but now lives in Tampa, FL. She is also a mother, wife, student, employee and entrepreneur. She is of Puerto Rican and African American decent. Destiny says that living in a world that only advertises to and about petite women did the same thing to her as it does to many women who have grown up being labeled a “big girl.” She spent most of her life ashamed of her size and often tried dieting so that she could be the size she was “supposed” to be. Now, she says that she is past all of that, but works out and eats healthier than she ever did before so that she can live a longer life being happy with herself rather than feeling bad. She models because she fully believes in the beauty of women her size, as well as those that are larger or smaller. She does not want to be a representative of women her size because that’s who she is already. Destiny wants to model proudly, respectfully and famously.

The OAC thanks Destiny and Larry for their passion and for their willingness to be a part of the OAC Image Gallery. We wouldn’t have been able to successfully create this project without you!

 



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