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Self-portraits inspire obese photog to lose 110lbs

Jen Davis underwent Lap-Band surgery in 2011 and has since lost more than 100 pounds. Here, a thinner Davis' has a snack in 2012's "Untitled No. 50."

Jen Davis

Jen Davis underwent Lap-Band surgery in 2011 and has since lost more than 100 pounds. Here, a thinner Davis has a snack in 2012’s “Untitled No. 50.”

One woman’s decision to bare her soul and body in a series of intimate self-portraits eventually inspired her to lose 110 pounds.

Jen Davis, 35, has snapped picture of herself engaging in ordinary behaviors like eating, dressing and showering for more than a decade. Over the years, the Brooklyn-based photographer has developed a new sense of self and a slimmer figure.

The first photo in Jen Davis’ series of self-portraits, “Pressure Point,” shows her at the beach surrounded by much slimmer friends.

Jen Davis

The first photo in Jen Davis’ series of self-portraits, “Pressure Point,” shows her at the beach surrounded by much slimmer friends.

It all started as a project Davis began in 2002 when she was an undergrad at Columbia College Chicago. While on sitting on the beach during spring break, Davis took a picture of herself covering her body with shorts and a tank top as her slender friends wore bikinis. In the image, entitled “Pressure Point,” Davis’ discomfort is clear from her face and posture.

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"Untitled No. 37," 2010: The Brooklyn-based photographer will be releasing a photo book in spring 2014.

Jen Davis

“Untitled No. 37,” 2010: The Brooklyn-based photographer will be releasing a photo book in spring 2014.

Davis said she started the series as a way to understand her identity and place in the world as an admittedly-overweight individual — to see herself the way others did. Using a long cable with a ball attached to it, Davis captured moments of melancholy and longing, blurring reality and fantasy.

“I realized what my sense of vulnerability was,” she said in an interview with the Daily News. “I was opening myself up.”

The series changed the way Davis looked at herself and at men, she said. This picture, “Aldo and I in bed,” was taken in 2013.

Jen Davis

The series changed the way Davis looked at herself and at men, she said. This picture, “Aldo and I in bed,” was taken in 2013.

As the years progressed and Davis approached her mid-30s, she realized that her body hasn’t changed, and she wanted to take action.

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“Untitled No. 21,” 2006: Davis said people can relate to her self-portraits because of their own struggles with body image and identity, no matter what their size.

Jen Davis

“Untitled No. 21,” 2006: Davis said people can relate to her self-portraits because of their own struggles with body image and identity, no matter what their size.

“It was kind of shocking, kind of painful to look at myself and to see myself evolving and growing and understanding a deeper sense of myself but my body not being able to change after nine years’ time,” she told Slate.

In summer 2011, Davis made the decision to undergo Lap-Band surgery and committed to changing her eating habits and exercising. She has since lost 110 pounds and gained what she calls the ability to be “anonymous in society.”

Jen Davis, left, says she no longer worries about people judging her when she eats after her 110-pound weight loss. Here she is in “Seconds.”

Jen Davis

Jen Davis, left, says she no longer worries about people judging her when she eats after her 110-pound weight loss. Here she is in “Seconds.”

“I feel like I have more opportunities,” she told The News. “I approach people differently. I can be comfortable in public and not have to worry about fitting into a certain area or seat.”

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This 2003 photo, entitled

Jen Davis

This 2003 photo, entitled “4 a.m.,” shows Davis’ vulnerability.

The series and the weight loss have helped Davis drop the walls of insecurity she had built up. As the weight came off, Davis said her photographs became more about her real relationship rather than a relationship fantasy she invented for the camera.

Davis said she thinks people are drawn to the series because they can relate to her struggles with body image and self-awareness that are so clearly expressed in the photos.

“Pablo and I,” 2013: Davis said she no longer needs to stage moments of intimacy for photographs.

Jen Davis

“Pablo and I,” 2013: Davis said she no longer needs to stage moments of intimacy for photographs.

“People can put themselves in the story, whether they are a size two or 22,” she said.


Health – NY Daily News

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