It began with a simple Google search. Jess Baker, a plus-size, 27-year-old blogger from Tucson, Arizona was doing research online one afternoon and noticed that when she typed in the phrase "fat people," autocomplete sentences such as, "Fat people are disgusting" and "Fat people deserve to be bullied" popped up. But instead of getting angry about it, Baker got creative.
The result is her photo series, "Bodies Aren't Ugly. Bullying Is," a compilation of images of herself and her plus-sized friends overlaid with Google autocomplete searches on "fat people." In addition, Baker created her own taglines for each photo: "Just because it's accepted, doesn't mean it's acceptable," "It's not about sensitive feelings. It's about respect," "It's not about the weight; lose the hate," and "Big bodies aren't ugly; bulling is." On December 2, Baker posted the project on her website "The Militant Baker," then challenged her social media followers to send in their own photos - and 500 submissions later, Baker has started a revolution.
"I had to leave work one day to deal with all the submissions because they almost crashed my website," Baker tells Yahoo Shine. "Body acceptance is a hugely important issue because somehow, it's become culturally acceptable to hate people because of their dress size. I wanted to pair real faces with the autocomplete searches to show that people are being hurt by this hate."
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Baker first captured the attention of the Internet back in May when she staged a photo shoot in response to Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries' comments from a 2006 Salon article, which had resurfaced last spring. "In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," said Jeffries. "Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."
In the shoot, Baker modeled a size large T-shirt that read "Abercrombie & Fitch" and posed seductively with a conventionally handsome male model, then superimposed the phrase "Attractive & Fat" over the images. Baker included a link to the photo shoot in an open letter she wrote to Jeffries.
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However, Baker's plight to spread body acceptance isn't limited to overweight people. "Skinny people get ostracized too," she says. "When we discriminate against one body type, we discriminate against all types because we start a hateful cycle of pitting people against each other. It's not enough to accept overweight people's bodies. We have to accept every body." To that end, Baker launched a second photo project (also on her website) where she addresses common prejudices against thin people found on Google autocomplete. Images of thin women (and one man) are coupled with phrases such as, "Skinny people don't eat," and "Skinny people v. fat people," and juxtaposed with the taglines, "My body is none of your business," "My diet has nothing to do with you," and "There's no 'vs," we're all in this together."
Next up for Baker is a body acceptance conference she's organizing in May, along with a secret project that she's not yet ready to reveal. "We're not used to seeing overweight people represented in a beautiful way so my next series will be jarring," she says. "I don't plan on stopping any time soon."