Welsh photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith has released a new monograph entitled Kiss it! which beautifully documents Shannon's transformative 12-year journey as a young woman living with obesity. Published by GOST and through a collection of photographs, the artist intimately captures Shannon's experiences, unveiling the hurdles and triumphs faced by individuals living with obesity. Trayler-Smith's project, "The Big O," delves into the exploration of obesity in school-age children and young adults, with Shannon serving as the driving force behind this compelling body of work.
Global obesity rates have tripled since 1975, with one in four people in England being obese. Contributing factors include hormones, genetics, sedentary jobs, long commutes, fluctuating diets, sugary treats and excessive device use. Trayler-Smith's collaboration challenges the misconception that obesity is solely a lack of willpower, highlighting the lack of empathy and understanding surrounding the issue.
The artist shared: "At age eleven, I felt judged, criticized and not approved of... others saw only my imperfect body, not the fact that I was funny and clever and warm. I came to believe that if I wasn't fat, somehow everything else in my life would be problem-free. As I stepped into adolescence, all of this became my identity. Fast forward to the age of thirty-three. I was working as a photographer at a press conference for a launch of health services to teenagers and there she was--Shannon, with a voice I had never found, reading a poem addressed to the professionals, pleading to be understood and not judged. I saw the mutuality between us and the difference. She was the brave teenager I had never been able to be."
From documenting the aftermath of conflicts in Iraq and Darfur to covering environmental activism in the Antarctic and the Indian Ocean, Trayler-Smith's lens has chronicled a myriad of significant events. Her exceptional body of work has garnered recognition, with prestigious organizations such as Greenpeace, Oxfam and UNICEF commissioning her photography. The artist has also previously been shortlisted for esteemed accolades, including the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in London and a World Press Photo Award.
Kiss it! is available for $55 USD on GOST's website, take a look at some of the featured work in the gallery above. In case you missed it,