Danish photographer Marie Hald who won the World Press Photo Award, The Danish Picture of the Year and many other international prizes focuses thoroughly on projects about women and their relationship to beauty and the female body.
Recently I discovered her series “I am fat” through Witness, a publication on Medium, which documents girls from Scandinavia who are considered “fat” in the public eye.
“They’ve had enough. They refuse to be ashamed. They refuse to hide. And they’ve had enough of being shouted at. Stared at. Laughed at. Spat at. Of being objects of ridicule and hate on social media.”
Hald portrays young Scandinavian women who insist on living in their fat bodies without trying to change or become smaller. It is not a way of promoting fatness, it is about the permission to exist. Without being shamed.
The portraits of the girls are beautiful, showing dignity, power, confidence, and freedom. There is a sense of warmth in these photographs, and the way she chose to do the portraits intertwines with the everydayness e.g. riding the bike, being with a loved one, drinking a cup of tea etc. Even her choice of locations is very home-based or nature-based, reflecting on the concept that “fatness” is similar to our nature – it just exists.
© Marie Hald, from the series ‘I Am Fat’ ; Source @ Marie Hald
The problem of how they are being portrayed in the public still exists in the system and in society, even for countries like Denmark and Sweden. “Society talks about being fat like it’s a choice. You could just lose the weight, right? It’s not at all that simple.”
“I hired a ‘duola’ (a birth assistant)… but at the same time, I think it’s absolutely insane that I have to spend a thousand pounds from my own pocket to make sure that I’m treated as a human being by the health care system.”
“We were together the whole time. I thought we were probably soon going to be boyfriend and girlfriend — so I asked him. And he simply replied: ‘Well, I can’t be with you in the street. I can’t take you home to my family and friends. You’re fat.’”
To look on the controversy side, Hald created a new story called “The Girls from Malawa” which focuses on girls who have anorexia and bulimia. They all ties in with her earlier work called “Perfect Girls” which talks about the portray of being a woman in the current society. “My generation of girls does not compete for anything. We’re just fighting ourselves. Expectations for us are fierce and we feel tremendous pressure: To be right, to become something special. Stand out and perform. One must not fall into one with the crowd. We live in a time where we learn that we need to have the X-Factor. And if you can get famous it is top-notch. We must be slim, smart, look good, be good lovers and live a good social life. But what happens when the pressure becomes too much?”