Losing 160 Pounds, One Photo At A Time
After her wedding in 2009, artist Julia Kozerski decided to drastically change her lifestyle. She lost 160 pounds in one year — and documented the transition with her iPhone.
Her series — called "Changing Room" — was shot in various dressing rooms in 2010 and 2011. Her body was changing so rapidly that she kept trying on clothes as a way of exploring her identity.
At the time, Kozerski was attending the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and working on a nude portrait series called "Half." She never intended to publish the photos — they were simply a personal exercise. But a year later, she decided to share the "raw, uncensored and unrestricted 'behind-the-scenes' look" of her transformation.
As for how she lost the weight? She stopped eating junk food, started walking and biking daily, counted calories, and weighed and measured her food portions. (You can see a BodyBugg armband in many of the photos.)
I recently caught up with her by email to ask a few questions about the project:
The Picture Show: You say that this was not an intentional photo series. What do you think about when you look at the photos now?
Kozerski: "Even though these images were taken years ago, when I look back at them, I become extremely emotional. I can still remember the experience presented in each image. I recall the thrills of trying on smaller sizes and the satisfaction of feeling more attractive, even sexy. More so, I remember the devastation of not recognizing the person reflected back to me in the mirror."
These photographs, and others on your site, are very personal, and quite revealing of your physical body. What are your motivations for revealing so much of your private self in your photographs?
"When I began my physical transformation, it was a very private experience. I never intended to share such revealing and personal details with anyone.
"One day, I printed a seemingly abstract, close-up shot of my skin, stretch marks and all, and posted it on the wall during a critique in college. My instructors and fellow students were intrigued. Everyone was very supportive, and I was encouraged to continue my visual explorations.
"... I began taking more risks. More skin was shown, then more of my body, then my face ... It was gradual. Eventually I became comfortable with seeing myself, having others see me, and speaking about my experiences."
Was the act of taking these photos inspirational for you as you worked on your weight loss?
"As I worked toward losing weight, the iPhone photos were mainly ways for me to pause my progress (even if only for a split second). I lost over 160 pounds in one year. It was a full-time job being a newlywed, a first-time homeowner, a full-time college student and a caretaker for my ill parents. Needless to say, that time in my life was overwhelming. Looking back, I needed these photographs. These images allowed me to outright see that I was making progress. Without them, I am not sure I would have had the motivation to move forward."
What message do you hope that viewers will take away from your series?
"A sense of motivation. We all have things we wish we could change about ourselves or our lives. Big change can happen; start small."
View the entire set of photos from "Changing Room" here.