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2020 SPE Annual Conference: Hosted by The University of Houston | Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts | School of Art

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Sarah Baranski

SPE Member since 2006
Member Chapter: Midwest


Obesity is becoming increasingly prevalent within the American population. However, the majority of Americans do not consider themselves to be obese. The word conjures images of the morbidly obese, individuals who are categorized at 40 or higher on the BMI scale. In truth, an individual with a BMI score between 30 and 30.9 can be medically diagnosed with obesity. More and more Americans are falling within this range of obesity, while falsely believing that they are merely overweight. Despite the increase of obese individuals in America, being fat remains socially unacceptable. The perfect body standard is still a size 0; an unattainable ideal for most. There are a multitude of factors that contribute to the obesity epidemic in America. While diet, genetics, and other personal details play a role in determining an individual's body type, there are broader cultural forces at play as well. The need for a fast, convenient meal has replaced the need for a healthy, nutritious meal, and the American waistline reflects it.

For most of my life, I did not fall into the BMI range for obesity. I didn't look like the slim, willowy women in magazines or on T.V., but I was athletic and strong. I was never thought of as fat. After being diagnosed with obesity in my mid 30's, I began to think about how my outward appearance plays a role in how I relate to the rest of the world as well as how I understand myself. I am utilizing the camera to document the daily struggle to diet and exercise in order to meet a certain cultural standard of beauty, health and womanhood. By photographing myself and others, I am interested in exploring how obesity influences people and their sense of self.


Shame and Pride


Belted in



Soccer Injury

Hotel Reflections

Flex Points


Drawn In




Thigh Rip


Facing Reality

Fleeting Impressions

A Constant Disappointment


Post Diagnosis

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