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‘Obesity – The Truth from Within’ puts a lens on the stories shared by Sarah, Wynford and Abigail, three people living with obesity, a chronic disease that affects more than 650 million people globally. Their efforts to manage the disease and burden of stigma are highlighted through a series of portraits captured by UK photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith.
“From my experience you hear people who’ve had abuse or trauma or something that’s happened and then food has been a crutch for them. Mine was when my granny died when I was nine. I stood at school waiting for her to pick me up, but she never turned up because she’d had a car crash and died. And I’ve blamed myself for her death ever since.
My mum, through love, used to tell me I couldn’t wear certain things. I was trying to wear things my friends were wearing and she’d say you can’t really wear that because your figure is different to theirs. That would really highlight that I was different and that made me really conscious of it.
I’m so passionate about my daughter, Emily. I don’t want her to ever have an issue with the way she looks, I don’t want to put any ideas in her head that she’s not ok the way she is. When I first started trying to get pregnant, I didn’t think about my size being an issue. I mean, no one knows if they can have a baby. Ultimately, it wasn’t an issue and I got pregnant. I felt good and I wasn’t so bothered about my tummy anymore because it had a baby in there. It made me look at my body in a different way.”
“I went to university size 14 and I came back size 18. I was doing really late nights, eating and typing, which is something you should never do. In my last year, my best friend passed away. That's when I just hit rock bottom. I wasn't really social anymore. I lost my appetite for a very long time. When I gained it back, I just ate all the wrong things at the wrong time, I just didn't really care.
I was cast in a show to be a nurse. I got called two days before the shoot and was told that I was getting dropped. When I asked why, they said, “It's because we realised that the nurse’s uniform won't fit you”. I was absolutely devastated and shocked. I thought how cheap it is because you booked me, you have all my measurements. I don't want to feel like I'm forced to lose half my weight in order to get a TV role, or a film role or stage role.
I’m not going to walk around with a bag of worries because I’m larger than the average person. Yes, I’m big. I hope to lose the weight, but whilst I’m in it I’m not going to be depressed.”
“My ideal weight is supposed to be like 80 kg, but I've never been that in my life and I just don't know how I'm going to achieve that. But I am progressing with this, and weigh myself regularly to keep on track losing weight.
People often pat your stomach and go, “Oh I see you keep the squash routine up there.” It is rude. There's a rudeness about it whereas if I had Parkinson's they wouldn't hold on to me to stop me shaking.
I’m fed up with people telling me to eat less and do more exercise. I’m doing as much as I can; three gym sessions a week, cycling twice a week, walking every other week, don’t eat rubbish food, I cook all my own meals. I’m giving it my best shot.”
‘Obesity-The Truth from Within’ has been initiated and funded by Novo Nordisk in collaboration with photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith.