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Hi friend,
 
I want to follow up on my letter to you about AI-generated artwork.
 
People who are into AI art are telling me that this is a chance for fat people to see themselves represented and change their body image. 
 
But there's a problem: exploitation will not create liberation.
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Here's just one of the images that was stolen from my body of work by the LAION AI database, used to train Stable Diffusion and Lensa, among others.
 
I did not consent to having this work stolen from my website so that tech companies can profit from it.
 
To create the set of images of which this photo is a part, I invested around $100, days of hard work and a six-hour round-trip drive. My model was paid for their time and labor.
 
After this shoot, I was so exhausted my husband ended up driving all of us the three hours home.
 
(You can use the new site https://haveibeentrained.com to see if your artwork was also stolen.)
 
I've spoken extensively here and on social media about the ramifications of widespread art theft in the service of tech company profits.
 
But it's also personally harmful to see your hard work crushed in the maws of a machine.
 
Imagine that you painted an amazing picture, and it was so good it ended up hanging in a gallery.
 
Then someone else took a crappy cellphone photo of your work and started selling prints of that photo in their Etsy shop. How would you feel?
 
The master's tools will not dismantle the master's house, and that absolutely applies to AI bros stealing artwork. If you want to use Lensa/Midjourney/whatever, it's your life, I don't care about your personal use. But don't tell me it's liberatory.
 
It sucks that people can't see representation of bodies like theirs in currently available art (though there's a wide variety of fat-positive artwork already out there for those who seek it).
 
But why don't those photos/pieces of art exist already? Because fat creators aren't supported enough to be able to create them, and thin people won't.
 
I'm on track to make all of $20K this year, from all revenue streams (not just stock images). I've produced thousands of fat positive stock photos already. Imagine what I could do if I had proper funding and weren't scrabbling for basic income.
 
When you use AI generators based on stolen artwork to get your needs met, you kill any chance of fat creators being able to meet your needs themselves, because if you're not paying for stock photos or art, I can't continue to create them.
 
I'm also hearing from fat and superfat folks on Twitter that AI generators are giving them thinner (and whiter) bodies than they have in real life. It's clear to me that AI generators don't know how to depict fat, especially very fat, bodies because there are only a few people in the world creating those images in the first place.
 
If an AI generator is successfully depicting a fat body it's because one of a very few people on the planet had their artwork stolen so that thin tech bros can profit. You'll understand that this hits close to home for me.
 
I'm currently sitting on my couch and using voice to text to write this because I worked myself into temporary disability creating more fat art in the world.
 
What happens when all the fat artists are finally driven out of business and/or stop posting online? What happens when the only people left are thin tech CEOs profiting from the work they stole from us, while continuing to exclude us?
 
The liberation of fat people cannot come at the cost of the exploitation and abuse of other fat people. It's not possible.
And finally:
 
I know that technology always moves forward, and is currently far ahead of the legal system on AI art generation. But the more people use (and give money to) generators based on stolen work, the more that theft is cemented and the harder it will be to:
 
a) change these existing programs to be based on consent and artist compensation, and
 
b) create legal and ethical standards that disallow the exploitation of artists, many of whom are poor and/or marginalized themselves.
 
Let's not do corporations' and PR firms' work for them by normalizing theft from artists. Demand better for marginalized people and artists.
Warmly,
Lindley
 
P.S. Share this week's letter or save to read later here. It's only possible to offer the Body Liberation Guide and all its labor for free because people like you support it. If you find value here, please contribute for as little as $1 per month. Every dollar helps.
 

The Conversation

 

 
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"Housework is not work. Sex work is not work. Emotional work is not work. Why? Because they don’t take effort? No, because women are supposed to provide them uncompensated, out of the goodness of our hearts." 
 
» Jess Zimmerman, “Where’s My Cut?”: On Unpaid Emotional Labor
 

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