Kiss it! is the result of a long-term collaboration between photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith and Shannon, a young woman living with obesity. Over the course of 12-years, Trayler-Smith documented Shannon’s journey from teenager to adult—navigating friendships, family, first-boyfriends, prom nights, holidays and jobs. Shannon has been the central inspiration for Trayler-Smith’s long-term project, ‘The Big O’ focusing on obesity in school-age children and young adults.
‘At age eleven, I felt judged, criticised, and not approved of… others saw only my imperfect body, not the fact that I was funny and clever and warm. I came to believe that if I wasn’t fat, somehow everything else in my life would be problem-free. As I stepped into adolescence, all of this became my identity. Fast forward to the age of thirty-three. I was working as a photographer at a press conference for a launch of health services to teenagers and there she was—Shannon, with a voice I had never found, reading a poem addressed to the professionals, pleading to be understood and not judged. I saw the mutuality between us and the difference. She was the brave teenager I had never been able to be.’ – Abbie Trayler-Smith