Through magazines on coffee tables, advertisement on billboards, or posts on your timeline, a variety of models are displayed everywhere for the public’s eye to see. Since mass media became one of society’s biggest influencers, we constantly find ourselves comparing and contrasting every perfection displayed to our own flaws and the repercussions have been detrimental. A resident of Tallahassee, Florida, Shoog McDaniel was one of many who suffered from this. As a nonbinary, trans using the pronoun “they”, Shoog found themselves in many difficult positions struggling with suicidal tendencies as a queer teenager. Not identifying with their peers and being the complete opposite of what everyone else defined beauty as. At the age of 18 years old, McDaniel found an escape for their mental illnesses through a pack of expired disposable cameras behind a pharmacy. This was the moment where their creativity was able to flourish into something that breaks the beauty standard beyond belief.
McDaniel’s has become one of the fewsubgroupingtrans people who dares to speak out against their stereotypeof being hidden from social media and living marginalized lifestyles. Shoog is a photographer of mainly nude, fat people posing in nature and enjoying life fully in order to embrace the human body. They explain that their message is to accentuate an idea where trans, overweight individuals should be valued just as much as any thin or straight person is through out a mass media basis. McDaniel says in her interview with Huffington Post“Most of the people that I photograph are queer and trans folks, because that is who is not represented in media but needs to be the most uplifted.”
Unfortunately, it is no secret that this is a controversial topic in the world, even Shoog addresses that they are continuouslydiscriminatedon many levels. When speaking on the stereotype threatthey elaborated on the hate mail they received which included death threat letters saying that promoting an unhealthy body should not be normalized and is harmful to the view of the public. McDaniel easily contradicts these claims by saying that they are simply trying to express the gracefulness of the bodies, “I feel like if I take a body and make a piece of art, it will be easier for some people to ingest and that it will eventually change what is limited as beautiful in the world.”
Shoog’s work is one of the few outlets that trans, let alone overweight trans people have been able to experience as positive. The backlash and hate that is targeting this community has been an ongoing issue for several years now and receives little to no encouraged attention. McDaniel says “You are able to connect so much more freely, without having eyes clocking you or telling you ‘Oh you shouldn’t be this way, or you’re acting in this way that might be wrong or weird. (In nature) There is nobody looking at you, only trees” they explain how nature is part of the coping process to dealing with the inequitable criticism of their style of living and in her work in particular, “It is a very liberating place; it is why I shoot nude. It’s really about freedom and a sense of wildness, returning back to nature.”
Sterling, Anna Lucente. “This Photographer Wants To Capture The Beauty Of Fat Bodies.” HuffPost, The Huffington Post, 21 Oct. 2019, www.huffpost.com/entry/photographer-fat-bodies-shoog-mcdaniel_n_5dadd484e4b0422422c99604.