The women appearing in this series of artful photographs all weigh between 420 and 600 pounds. They also all appear in the nude.
Loloi has gained increased attention for Full Beauty since he began it in 2006, two years after returning to his hometown of Milan after studying for three years at the Naggar School of Photography in Musrara, Jerusalem.
Loloi, 37, first got interested in his subject when he came across the “fat acceptance” scene in New York and became acquainted with what are known as SSBBW, or super-sized big beautiful women.
“Women of size have always purely fascinated me,” the photographer said in an email interview with The Times of Israel. “Like all things that are unknown, I guess there is a natural tendency for one to be either curious, or to just end up plain prejudiced. I was naturally curious and wanted to know more, and eventually I developed the need to photograph these women.”
In a video for the St. Moritz Art Masters, a group exhibition in which Loloi took part in 2012, he says he means for these photographs to be provocative, while at the same time reassuring.
“I wanted these images to be pure representations of these women, with no veils. I want people to take a look at how these women really are and not be automatically disgusted,” he says.
Looking at the Full Beauty photographs, one can appreciate how Loloi perceives these women as “human sculptures.” It’s clear he takes great care in composing the stunning images, and in trying to express each woman’s unique character.
“I am praising difference, that same difference that makes us all special,” Loloi offers. “All I am trying to underline here is that we all have the right to be appreciated the way we are, and that there is no dictatorship as to what regards taste. It seems like we’ve forgotten that somewhere in our path as humans.”
‘All I am trying to underline here is that we all have the right to be appreciated the way we are’
Loloi’s path to photography began in the art classes he took at his international school in Milan. His love of art abided despite deciding to drop out of school at age 16 to join his father in the family’s carpet business. At age 24, he realized photography was his passion, and he moved to Israel to study.
Loloi’s parents are Persian-Israelis. His father came from Mashad, Iran to Israel at age 10 to see his dying father, who had been brought to Israel for medical treatment. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it in time. However, Loloi’s father decided to stay on in Israel by himself, and managed to survive by doing odd jobs. He eventually joined the IDF, serving for four years. Loloi’s mother was born in Israel to a family that made aliyah from Iran. They moved to Milan for their carpet business and raised their family there.
For both personal and professional reasons, Loloi made the decision to return to Italy after completing his studies in Jerusalem. Staying in Israel long term was never really his plan.
“I was more interested in the experience of studying in Israel,” he explains. “Unfortunately Israel, despite all the history it has, still isn’t a very aesthetic-friendly country and therefore, its hard to be appreciated in my field there. Maybe things will change in time.”
From his base in Milan, Loloi managed to locate women from all over Europe and the United States who were willing to pose naked for him. He did a lot of networking, and some of the models heard about the project and reached out to him.
“I didn’t have to do anything special to entice them to participate in the project,” he recalls. “They just loved the idea of the project and found in it a way to finally express their right to be considered beautiful and not to spend the rest of their lives feeling sorry because of others’ tastes.”
Apparently, some of the women are erotic models and were already comfortable posing without their clothes. “Some of them have a pay site where they share their own nude pictures to subscribers. Others are porn actresses.”
‘To me, what was important was that in front of my camera, they would be a little exhibitionist, which normally make the best models in my opinion’
Some of the women were “none of the above,” as Loloi puts it. Still, he was looking for women who had enough self-esteem to participate successfully in the project.
“To me, what was important was that in front of my camera, they would be a little exhibitionist, which normally make the best models in my opinion.”
The photographer is driven by aesthetics, but he also believes his Jewish sensibilities have motivated him with this project.
“I think one of the many roles of Jews is showing things under a different light and trying to balance things out by doing so,” he offers. “Societies always need to have someone to blame, and fat people, like Jews in a way, are extremely easy targets — for obvious reasons.”
Loloi reports that responses to the Full Beauty Project have been rolling in non-stop. Some of the feedback is positive, and much of it is negative, as Loloi expected it might be.
“Some people get disturbed by my images as much as I get disturbed by people who are desperately trying to be accepted by others and forget about their own uniqueness.”
One can’t help but ask whether Loloi is personally attracted to obese women.
“Yes, although I tend to prefer proportion in the curves,” he answers.