November 27, 2010

All the love in loving your body

I've been reading/listening to blogs/vlogs about body acceptance and it kinda gets me to the core.

I'm a severely cynical person. I don't come across bubbly or happy. But I am relatively. I'm mellow to the point of death, and reserved more than that. I DO get excited, but about very little. I look forward to things, I just don't show it. My point is, my personality (to me) doesn't attract people to me. If you want to get to know me, usually you have to wade through my bullshit.
Not to say I'm not worth getting to know. I'm fiercely loyal and would willingly give you the shirt off my back and walk around naked if you needed it.

That being said. I'm following these blogs (see my ever growing links section) and am so inspired by the passion of these women. They want to change the world, and they are sure that they can. I hope they can. I just can't express that same excitement. And I'm jealous. This enthusiasm is contagious though. I find myself reading these  blogs for hours and getting emotionally involved.
I believe that this is the blossoming of a passion that I'm lacking in my life. Not that the passion hasn't presented itself, I just don't project it.

I also am learning that I'm harder on myself than I need to be. I was just remembering two of my teachers from my last school and both (in different semesters) told me that they enjoyed my work at the end of the semester. One even shook my hand. I have fans that have never met me. People want my work adorning their bodies forever. I'm reminded often that my work does touch people and is noticed by those who aren't forced by genetic ties to tell me that I'm good. I want to make their support worth it. I want to make the people that stand behind my work, proud. I want to always work hard to make people happy. AND learn not to bite off more than I can proverbially chew.

I'm excited to get my thesis underway because it's such a thoughtful project and I'm passionate about the process and how I'm portraying this topic.

I hope that I can represent the movement in a positive, loving light....

And learn to love and accept myself in the end.

November 25, 2010

Thesis Abstract

This is what I'm going to be presenting (with my slides behind me) It's long, but this is it, if you want to read it:

Thesis Proposal Abstract

My thesis will be a series of 6, 42 inch constructed paper dolls depicting the standard female body shapes of triangle, inverted triangle, rectangle, diamond, hourglass and oval. Through the construction of the paper dolls assembled over found art in the form of vintage women's underwear ads, I will explore standards of beauty and body image in a lighthearted manner.

The 6 body shapes that I will be depicting are some of the shapes that the fashion industry use to standardize the way that women look in their clothes. These body shapes are what they use to define women's bodies.

Magazines focus on the size and shape of the celebrity du jour. Celebrities like Jessica Simpson gain 20 pounds, and there's a media outcry. She's out of control. Magazine covers are filled with images of her in unflattering poses, or catching her eating. If a female celebrity gains 20 pounds, and is a horrendous beast, what does that make the rest of us that don't fit the media's ideal?

Up until the early part of the 20th century, the image of beauty for women in western societies was a voluptuous, “reproductive” form. Women with full hips, thighs and breasts were painted lovingly by artists. Full bodies were popular because they epitomized fertility, which made them more appealing than lean, masculine-like bodies.

The idolization of female thinness is a recent ideal. It is argued that the thin concept in body image began as a marketing ploy by the fashion industry in the 1920's. They set the standard for cultural beauty in most Western societies. Up until the 1920's clothing and fashion were represented by hand-drawn illustrations that were beautifully painted. Shortly after that, photographs replaced the illustrations and were widely distributed through mass-market magazines. These magazines presented a fantasy image of how women were supposed to look in fashionable clothing which required them to mould their bodies because each look suited a particular body shape. Then women began binding their chests and using foundation garments to achieve these desired body shapes.

The trend of slimness continued through the 40's and 50's, with minor adjustments, movie stars became more shapely, but remained thin throughout the 60's until the thin boyish figure of Twiggy became the role model for a new generation of women.

Fast forward to the present era where magazines and designers choose to use extremely thin models to advertise clothing. This influences women to change the size and shape of their bodies to conform to current trends and culturally-defined body shapes.

Vintage advertisements are a good example of how the media and fashion industries say women should look. By wearing girdles and bras to mould their curves and hide their bulges, women could achieve an image of outer beauty. While the message is still relevant for today, advertisements of yesteryear were less subtle with their message than advertisers of the modern era. Placing these dolls over the vintage ads highlights how vintage media isn't much different than today. They just weren't afraid to say it out loud. Besides, these ads are ludicrous in their messages. “Lose 5 pounds in 5 minutes!” How? Wear this girdle. Have unseemly bulges? Slip these underwear on, and they'll flatten your curves so that you look good in clothes.

I want to create a dialog about body image, how it affects women. Looking at a flat image of a woman as represented by the dolls, hanging on a wall is not meant to solve anyone's body issues, it is merely meant to show that women come in many shapes, and within those shapes is beauty. Women feel awkward about their bodies, showing them standing in their underwear represents this awkwardness. But behind this awkwardness is a power and beauty and confidence that is waiting to be shown.

After researching, and collecting imagery for each body type and matching it with an appropriate vintage ad, I will build the boxes that will house the dolls. These boxes will be hand made from wood, without glass. Why put the dolls in boxes? I want to call attention to the notion that women are on “display”. Every day we put on clothes to cover or accentuate our bodies, makeup to highlight our faces. Women are looked upon to make a presence, to be beautiful. Placing the dolls inside a box is a metaphor for the constraints of beauty standards. Also, by not putting them behind glass, I'm making these symbolic references to women more accessible. Yes, we're expected to be boxed in and conform, to follow the rules of the media. To wear clothing that binds and restricts our figures. These dolls break that mold. They step away from society and the media's norms. They remain accessible, looking you right in the eye and they say “this is me, take me as I am”.

When the boxes are finished, the rest of the process will focus on painting and cutting out the dolls and assembling them.

Painting the different shaped women in gouache on watercolor paper likens the dolls to those fashion illustrations of the 20's. Women were painted with a realistic simplicity in color and line quality that I plan on reflecting in my own illustrations of the dolls.

When the entire process is complete, the dolls will be attached inside the boxes and hung side by side, gallery style and at eye level, so the viewer can make eye contact with them.

We've come a long way as a society, from seeing only the extreme ideal of femininity in media. Commercials are starting to feature people who aren't the cultural norm in terms of body shape. Blogs dedicated to body image and acceptance abound, and magazines are starting to stand up and feature women that break away from traditional body sizes.

This is not a fat acceptance project, but a project that hopes to celebrate the female figure in different shapes.

Through the process of researching images and constructing the paper dolls, I want to explore my own perceptions of body image and open a dialog with viewers about how media influences the way that women perceive themselves. I want to see why some women base their happiness solely on how they look in their clothes and why they compare themselves to the people that they see in the media. I believe these paper dolls are a rebellion against what the media historically has told us is the ideal form.

November 19, 2010


I'm having a tough time coming to terms with the word "acceptance". While my thesis is all about acceptance, my brain is having other thoughts.

I spent the last 10 years trying to motivate myself emotionally and physically to lose the 100 pounds I gained while I was with "Jerkface" (this is what we'll call him for all intents and purposes). I can't blame him 100% for causing me to gain the weight I have now, since we've been apart for so long. I can mostly blame him for starting the ball rolling.
I was bullied to get on Depo Provera because he was "sick" of using condoms for birth control. I did research like a good girl and saw that there was "minor" weight gain and not enough had been published at the time to warrant any fears. The bullying persisted, and I agreed.
In the year that I had the shots. A YEAR (along with further bullying) I gained almost 100 pounds (among other health issues). It seemed like it was overnight.

Now, in the case of genetics, my fathers' side of the family are all fairly meaty people. I had that going for me as well. As well as depression and very low self worth. (Mostly caused by "Jerkface"). After surviving a couple more years of torment, we went our separate ways. I was still 100 pounds overweight.

I went to the gym because it was free through work, I did yoga and pilates (I love pilates!) and started to get my weight and life under control. Then I started taking an anti depressant that fucked my life up even more. I started drinking heavily, my mood changed and I started fighting with my coworkers. I was a ticking time bomb. When I realized that it was medication ruining my life instead of a deadbeat, I snapped back to reality in a major way. I quit my job, stopped the meds and went back to school.

5 years later: I'm at the brink of success with school, all my life's roads have lead me here. I'm happy. I have a stable and extremely loving relationship, I'm close to my family, my outlook is changing and it's all good. But I'm still 100+ pounds overweight. I can't blame it on "Jerkface" any longer. I can't blame it on stress, I can't even blame it on my brother passing away. I blame it on lack of motivation and confusion.

This is where "acceptance" comes into play. If you boil it down to the bare bones, my thesis is about body acceptance. At whatever size. No fat hate, no skinny hate. I want to lose weight so that I can fit into the "cute" clothes, wear tank tops without paranoia, be happy and focus on the more important things... life! And be healthy. And that's ok. I don't have to justify working out or losing weight to anyone but me. If it will help my sleeping, my health and my confidence, so be it. If I'm healthy and happy at a size 22 or a size 16, great. I'm not built to be rail thin. It just won't happen. That's ok too. Being comfortable and confident is what I'm reaching for.

While I was writing this show called "What's eating me" was on, and it's heartbreaking to see that someone's image of their body can be so bad, that they're willing to die to change it. It's sort of opened up another avenue, for my thesis that I hadn't really prepared myself for. I can't sympathize with the same sort of body hate to want to starve myself, but I can sympathize with the motivation.

My Halloween costume. With a little skin exposure. Ooops! I'm normally pretty reluctant to have photos taken of me below the neck. But in the nature of honesty... here I am!

November 14, 2010

Thoughts on joking

I've always hated that it's ok to make fun of fat people in the media. A fat person falls, it's hilarious. Now, in my own defense, ANYONE who falls is fair game for me to laugh at. I don't care what color, sex or size you are. I'm just mean.
Seriously. If you pick on any other social group, race or political group, it's an apparent no-no. Fat people are the last joke frontier.
Now, this is coming from a media standpoint. There are comedians that joke about themselves being fat, I think it's fine. Does that make me a hypocrite? I don't think so. I love when people can laugh at themselves. Fat, skinny, special needs, what have you. I don't think it's funny to have whole websites dedicated to fat people being humiliated.

That being said, and like I stated earlier, I don't agree with skinny hate either. It's counter productive to bash people based on size. This is why this topic is my quest. I'll come out and say it now. I've laughed at people. Yes. From my guts, I've laughed at people falling down, dressing stupid and people who *gasp*  fall. I try to be the best fat girl I can be, but I'm still a cynic deep inside.

I think, unless someone is making fun of themselves, or purposely putting themselves out there TO be made fun of, we, as human beings, should back off. There are times when laughing is ok, as long as no one is hurt, and you show a little compassion for your fellow human, but I think seeing things through another's eyes is the best medicine.

Now, my image for the day makes me bipolar. Not medically, but emotionally. I think it's hilarious, but on the other hand SO amazingly offensive. Am I glad that advertisers are a little more subtle nowadays?

November 12, 2010


Sometimes people can be completely insensitive. But not for reasons that one would think while reading this blog.
While looking for the history of body size I came across this page:

Not real informative. But offensive nonetheless. At the bottom of the page, the author uses a photo of a holocaust victim to compare against a photo of a modern-day model.

While I don't condone making fun of fat people, I don't agree with "skinny girl hate" and I DEFINATELY do not agree with people making this kind of comparison. Not that the image is hateful to the model, but it is completely disgusting to belittle a victim of such a horrendous crime, all in the name of a blog page.

You also get to see some pretty ignorant commentary from the readers as well.

November 7, 2010

Diet is a four-letter word

After a lot of talking with my mentor, and mulling in my head, I'm ok with the path I'm taking. But I have to clear things up a little bit.

I don't want anyone to think that I disagree with a healthy lifestyle. You can be happy with your body at any state, size or shape.
Personally, I'd love to lose the 100lbs (yes, you read that right) I gained during and after an abusive relationship years ago. I would be ecstatic to lose 40lbs. Not because I hate my body, but because I'm sick of being unhealthy. I'm sick of being out of breath, I'm sick of being exhausted. I'll even admit to being sick of not being able to find clothes that I like at thrift and vintage stores that fit me.
I want to be able to be comfortable in my skin, and if that means learning to accept myself while I get healthy, that's great.

I AM a firm believer in being healthy at any weight/size. It's possible. If I lose 10 pounds, and that's it, but I am able to feel good and walk up a flight of stairs and not get winded, fine.

While I'm at it. I found this book while I was researching, and just the title alone, pissed me off:

This, to me, reinforces this negative view that others have toward anyone who isn't skinny. Big, bold, red letters THIS IS WHY YOU'RE FAT (you big lazy blob of lard). Fat=Bad and everyone who can read should avoid being fat, period.

November 5, 2010

I'm the one

I felt for a long time that I may not be the one to say what I have to say with my thesis. I'm not an activist. I'm not one that likes to be noticed.

Then I realized. I do pinups. I draw women who I feel are under represented in media. I draw big ladies doing fun stuff like reading comics, dancing to records or walking tightropes. I'm already saying it. If I feel that I'm the person who's saying that these women can be beautiful, I can say that this thesis project is showing me, that anyone at any shape, can be beautiful too.

So I AM the one that's going to say it.
I'm going to prove it to myself. And if anyone else along the way gets something from it. Awesome.

November 4, 2010

First rough presentation

I was scared. Not nervous. Physically frightened. It was the unknown. The not knowing what was supposed to come next, what was expected of me, made me disassociate and want to melt into the floor.

When I was called to the front of the class, I mustered up enough false confidence to get me through my presentation. I hate public speaking. I hate talking about my art. (Way to go, art school loser).
It's not the talking about my work that I hate. It's the pretentious air I have to fake to push through.
While I'm on it. I HATE the word "Juxtapose". There I said it. I'm in art school, and I hate that word with a firey passion. Teachers and students alike use this word because it makes them sound smart. Find another word that works, like say, contrast. Mix. Different. Lets bust out the thesaurus and see if there is something else we can use that will differentiate you from all the other pretentious folks out there.

Anyhow, I mustered my strength, and projected my voice to the back of the room. (We know my loud ass doesn't have an issue with this). I read from my notes, clicked through my slides, and was done. I have to say, I really thought my slides weren't up to muster.
But they were. Absolutely. I had everything laid out the way they were supposed to be, I talked about what I was supposed to, and was done. I did better than I ever thought I could! I won't say it was perfect, because it wasn't. I have things I need to change, and edit. I need to talk more about WHY I'm doing this project, which is the hard part for me. Why? WHY!? Why do I make art?!
Anyhow, I was surprised. I was expecting to be shot down immediately, and wasn't. The instructor said my presentation was good. I think. I don't remember the words he used, but they were of a positive variety.

I'm not gloating, there's nothing to gloat about. But it is an affirmation that I'm moving in the right direction and that I was doing the right thing while I was stressing. Now, if I can get over being nervous and talk more about my work, then I'll be in good shape.

Then, last night, I popped into a class I was making up, and another student commented on how good my slides were. REALLY?! One of my peers thinks I did a good job? This meant more to me than any teacher comment could. I don't take compliments well, I'm always afraid that my "thank you" will come across as snobby or crass. I also don't like being told that I'm good or doing well in front of other people (especially peers) because I think it makes me look snobby. I'm not. I'm insecure. But I will take the compliments to heart and keep on truckin'.

November 2, 2010

Final Mock Up

The final will be wider with a smaller image, but you get the idea. Imagine this, but at least 42 inches high.

November 1, 2010


I usually loathe doctors. The last doctor I had took one look at me and basically made me feel like a complete moron. He would NOT treat me. When my shoulder flared up he literally said "stretch it, you'll be fine".  I hate this man.
You'd understand my surprise when I chose a new one, and she acts like she gives a shit!

After seeing her about this horn growing out of my head, she stopped, and asked me how I was doing.

"Not so well, I'm stressed, nervous and exhausted. I'm in the beginning of my thesis year and I'm a nervous wreck."
"Oh, proposal time, eh?" she said, and proceeded to ask me about my project. I gave her the quick and dirty version without updates and she told me that she thought it was a fantastic idea and even offered a suggestion for my inspiration section.

"Cirque Du Soilei's 'Zumanity' has a couple of women who are rather large (I'm not sure how, I haven't seen the show, but have heard about these women) who wear very sensual outfits and perform their routine and seem very confident about their bodies. I've heard it's really good, you should look them up."

I guess in the spirit of procrastination, I didn't. Until tonight. And now I'm kicking myself. They are FANtastic. They are called the Botero Sisters, and they come from a family of performers.

Here's an article (with photos) with them in it.
The Botero Sisters

I'm even more happy that I can use multimedia with my presentation. Now, I just have to see how much of a fraud I look like because I slid them in at the last minute. But they fit in perfectly with my proposal.