“A lot of my work focuses around women of color and I want to creatively showcase that we are bomb as fuck.”
Like all things that gain mass attention, the body-positive movement is not without its flaws. Many credit body positivity as the kickstarter of their personal revolution and journey of self-love. Others feel it is a watered-down version of fat acceptance, and yet others feel it leaves entire communities behind altogether. I say if you have a body that is devalued and uncelebrated in today’s society, this movement should serve you — plain and simple.
This is the motivation behind this weekly series, an intersectional look at body positivity that includes perspectives of different people living life in a marginalized body. We kick things off with body-positive photographer Rochelle Brock, who believes that although the movement is paving the way for a new generation, we still have more work to do.
WYV: How long have you been a photographer?
Rochelle Brock: Six years.
WYV: What inspired you to start photographing people?
RB: I wanted to document my time in high school with my friends. It wasn’t until I got serious with shooting fashion that I realized there weren’t a lot of models that inspired me or really looked like me. My goal soon became photographing people that I thought were interesting in my own way and style.
WYV: What does it mean to be a body positive photographer?
RB: Being a BOPO photographer means normalizing BOPO in a real way. I don’t just want to show you cute fat girls in the nude. While that’s amazing, I want you to see that we have different style aesthetics, [that] we are artists, creatives, designers, etc. A lot of my work focuses around women of color and I want to creatively showcase that we are bomb as fuck.
WYV: What do you like about the BOPO movement? How is it successful or helpful?
RB: I like the fact that body positivity is not a foreign term to people now. The term is everywhere and it cannot be ignored. Clothing brands, modeling agencies and television shows are all taking notice and hiring more people who don’t fit conventional beauty standards. Younger kids are growing up in a world where BOPO is a legit thing and that’s awesome
WYV: What do you not like about it? How is it failing? Who is it neglecting the most?
RB: While the BOPO movement is getting a lot of clout, people who don’t fit the ideal norm — [people who are] bigger, rounder, blacker — are getting the shit end of the stick. We aren’t featured in the campaigns, and if we are, it is lackluster, the styling is not great, et cetera. Smaller, hourglass-shaped women are banking off of the term, and unfortunately, a lot of us are getting left behind or ignored completely when decisions are made.
WYV: How has BOPO affected you personally?
RB: BOPO has allowed me to see that my physical body is not abnormal or gross. A lot of the issues that I thought I faced alone while being a bigger woman are more common than I think. BOPO gave me friends who understand life in my shoes and I am forever grateful for that!
WYV: How do you practice BOPO in your daily life?
RB: I wear what I want, do my makeup how I like, wear my hair how I like it and I don’t feel odd. I know some girl on the street or internet is going to look at me and smile because I’m normalizing the fact that really fat girls can look cute at any size and that makes me happy.
WYV: If you could define BOPO in one sentence or phrase, what would it be?
RB: Take up more space. If we don’t fit the ideal norm in society or even in the BOPO movement, we need to make sure we step into that “room” when we get the chance. Take up space and be heard!