OK, Leonard Nimoy is awesome.
Did you all see his interview on the Colbert Report last night? If not, you can view the clip here (go to New Videos and scroll down to the bottom). Nimoy was on the show to talk about The Full Body Project, a new book containing his nude photographs of fat women. You can see some images from the book on Nimoy's website. I think these photographs are so cool. They will be shocking to some, but they're not sensationalized. The selection of the models (some of whom are really fat) shows that Nimoy didn't want to 'play it safe', and yet the photos don't put any undue emphasis on the more unusual aspects of the women's anatomy; they have a genuine sensitive and loving feel to them. They are playful but not mocking. I can't help feeling that someday people will look at these nice photos with their children and have to explain that "back then, photos of women this fat were considered shocking," and the kids will only halfway believe that people could have been that ignorant.
The Colbert interview is interesting for a variety of reasons. For one thing, Nimoy gets in some great points that people from the Fat Acceptance movement have been saying, which is nice because usually the only people quoted as saying those things are fat activists -- so it feels like some of the arguments may be gaining more widespread traction. I'm not sure his closing argument about young girls choosing oral sex over the "other kind" because of their poor body image is the very most compelling argument (especially since it's also true that teens with poor body image have higher suicide rates), but overall he does an exceptionally good job. And of course it's an accomplishment just to get a word in edgewise on that show in the first place!
One interesting moment in the interview comes when they show the first image from the book. It's a side view of a very fat, older woman lying in a Sphinxlike pose, and when the image comes up, a few people in the audience laugh. I can't really tell if it's male or female voices laughing. At first I thought it was because Colbert says something like, "I like this photo in particular because she looks relaxed, rested, and ready," and I thought maybe people were interpreting "ready" as referring to sex. But on a second viewing, it's clear that the laughter starts as soon as the image comes up, before Colbert says anything. Of course it's hard to interpret laughter -- maybe people were uncomfortable with the image, or maybe they thought the woman looked ridiculous, or maybe it's just that being part of a live audience for a comedy show predisposes people to laugh. Regardless, what happens next is really cool -- in response to Colbert asking something about the photo like "What do you call this?", Nimoy says "I call this a beautiful person," and a significant portion of the crowd (mostly with high-pitched voices) erupts in cheering.
Maybe there is hope yet.