This Photoshoot Fights Fatphobia and Racism

Malaysian photographer Catherhea “Cat” Teo’s most recent photoshoot promoted representation and inclusivity by featuring models of all shapes and colors

Every time we walk down the checkout aisle, we are bombarded by magazines filled with photoshopped, light-skinned models. We then return home to ads purporting to be the next craze in dieting, apps that are proven to help us lose weight, and a flurry of new Instagram posts from influencers doling out fitspo. Those who don’t fit this slim cookie-cutter image of what beauty supposedly looks like end up getting underrepresented in the media, consequently lowering the self esteem of millions of women and men alike.

Malaysian photographer Catherhea “Cat” Teo’s latest photoshoot is here to shatter beauty and cultural standards. It features nine gorgeous, unedited plus-sized Asian models sporting a variety of plus-sized swimwear. Not only does this photoshoot tackle society’s unhealthy obsession with body image, but it also caters to an audience that is least represented by the plus-size industry: Asians. Society has ingrained the idea of the “perfect” body in the minds of women—particularly Asians—for centuries, and it is now time for change.

For Teo, this project started off as a way for her to spite fatphobic individuals in her life, but as she was carrying out the shoot, it morphed into a more meaningful and purposeful endeavor. Now, “[Teo] just wants big girls to be able to look at themselves with love. Because sometimes you just want to feel enough, in however your body looks right now.”

Even though Asian representation in Hollywood is at an all time high, not all Asians benefit from this trend. Colorism still impacts darker-skinned Asians to the point where 40% of Southeast Asian women admit to using skin-whitening creams. Teo’s photoshoot features a diverse range of skin colors as an added layer of representation.

An ideal society would respect all, regardless of physical appearance. An ideal society would be one that does not treat another human differently based on their facial features, how much melanin they produce, or how fast or slow their metabolism is. An ideal society is difficult to achieve, but that should not prevent us from standing up to the blatant fatphobia and colorism that plagues our current image of beauty.

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