Paula is a tad more than just another weekend “gym-rat.” At nineteen, she was the U.S. National Teenage Body-Building Champion. Is she proud of her body? Of course! She is equally proud of being completely drug-free – no steroids – just a lot of hard work binocular brands for night to see. Yet there is a price one must seemingly pay in order to compete at this level; in the weeks leading up to major competitions, losing all weight that isn’t muscle becomes a real priority.
Paula’s diet at those times is hardly healthy: she is on the edge of being eating-disordered in spite of her magnificent physique.”
This was the description I used with Paula’s picture for over ten years. Then while poking around the internet, I came across some other information which demands inclusion.
Paula had left New Hampshire where I met her to pursue a career in southern California, where there was a bigger body-building community. She achieved some success celestron binoculars as a competitive body-builder; her best finish was placing first as a lightweight in the 1990 North American Championships.
Eventually she wound up in Las Vegas.
A writer in the on-line body-building media stated that she “would be a perfect figure or fitness woman today if she were allowed to have that much muscle. Sadly, she continued to diet down to get thinner, never to compete again…”
Two other body-builders went to a strip club in Vegas where by chance Paula worked as a waitress, among other things. They each paid her to do a lapdance on the other, and described her as “so bone skinny we feared she was anorexic.”
On November 14th, 2001, she was found dead in her apartment. Paula was 33.
The coroner said she died of “natural causes.” The likely truth is that anorexia killed her. Is that natural?
I have walked around with an onion skin, thick and dry most graded compact binoculars for amateurs, waiting to be peeled back, my core revealed… there is a big difference between being exposed by others and exposing yourself.”
Several months before I photographed Cathy, a man she knew tried to rape her.
It is with a great sense of joy that I have come to participate in this project among so many real and vibrant women.
Fat women are real women. We are the forgotten goddesses of softness and sensuality. I believe that fat women are uniquely nurturing and powerful.
However, in a society obsessed with being thin, we goddesses have been cast aside. It is for this reason that I have posed. I want to be a reminder to our culture that beauty exists in many forms. Some of the most beautiful forms are large, juicy, and cuddlesome.
Linda was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy; at the time I photographed her, she was given five years to live. She has already beaten that sentence, however, clearly the result of her attitude toward life, toward people, and toward herself.
A few years ago, I got the following e-mail from her.
I am now 46 years old, living on a narrowboat in London, writing and illustrating books about working women of the 19th century.
Your photograph of me was a life-changing image—the first time I perceived my own body as something other than the painful dysfunctional enemy. Through your lens, I saw myself as capable, fun, and sexy. The muscular dystrophy continues its inexorable process of weakening me spindle by spindle, but I refuse to let my physical limitations prevent me from pursuing my dreams. I am exploring England by canal and reveling in life!