Shrugging the Weight of Shame
The book “Kiss it!”, published by GOST, is the result of a tight collaboration between photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith and Shannon, a young woman living with obesity.
Photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith struggled with body image herself as a young woman, and when she met Shannon she saw “the mutuality between us and the difference. She was the brave teenager I had never been able to be”. The images follow Shannon, whose butt tattoo gives the name to the book, throughout daily life and milestone moments for twelve years.
Shannon, age 22, on holiday. Costa del Sol, Spain, 2018
Shannon, age 14, en route to school in year nine. Sheffield, 2010
Shannon, age 19, at her birthday party. Sheffield, 2015
Shannon, age 16, stands in her bedroom to record her ‘before’ picture on the eve of going into hospital for a gastric balloon as part of a medical trial at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Sheffield, 2013
The text also offers an insight into obesity as a disease that has a strong genetic basis, but is largely interpreted as a lack of willpower. Contemporary culture and socioeconomic dynamics can also easily increase a predisposition to gain weight. As portions in restaurants become increasingly bigger and healthy food less and less affordable, obesity today in the UK is a bigger killer than tobacco.
Shannon, age 16, recovers in hospital after an operation to have a gastric balloon inserted into her stomach, at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Sheffield, 2013
Shannon, age 15, laughing with friends at prom. Sheffield, 2012
Shannon, age 22, in her first flat.
Shannon, age 16, has the words ‘Kiss it!’ tattooed on her bottom as a message to the people who bullied her. Sheffield, 2013