I Can’t Help the Way I Feel- My Fat Body

 

An artwork exploring my relationship with my body existing in a culture that simultaneously glorifies and vilifies food and sells diet culture to the masses. Interspersed with clips of my own body are clips of the John Isaacs sculpture “I Can’t Help The Way I Feel”, previously on display at the Medicine Now exhibit at the Wellcome Collection in London, which depicts a vaguely human form (without the head, arms, and genitals) engulfed in an explosion of fat. This video piece is both a response to that work, and a work in it’s own right. Ideally I hope to display this in an exhibition with works made by other fat artists, projected onto a wall at a large scale, so that it cannot be ignored by the viewer. I would also like to make casts of various parts of my body to display in the space, so that the audience is confronted by other kinds of body to what we are force fed in the media-  tiny bodies, with only certain parts deemed acceptable to be large (i.e. bums and boobs on women, usually- but only if they are smooth and free of cellulite and stretchmarks).

A large part of my struggle with my body image comes from the outside world, from society as a whole. The footage of the bacon roll (a Greggs advert) represents the constant imagery of fast food that we are bombarded with, from television adverts to posters and even giant billboards. Being in London, particularly, means we are constantly surrounded by this, as the city is saturated (pardon the pun) with images of food. At the same time we are also assaulted with images of the “perfect” body, whether that is on the front of every magazine, or for diet pill and fitness regime ads on the tube. This constant war between the food we are reminded is unhealthy, and images that show bodies like mine as the “before” all contribute to my twisted self image, and have fueled my disordered eating for years.

The “we’ve shed the pounds” footage is not from a health or fitness shop though- it is from the window of an EE phone shop. Clearly they are advertising that they have made their products cheaper, but the wording and the imagery of the scales alludes to weight loss- on a shop that has nothing to do with weight! I thought that was pretty ridiculous, which is why I filmed it and included it in this piece. I may also record some footage of the diet and fitness ads on the tube next time I use the underground and add it to the video at a later date, as I feel that would fit with the work. I would also like to play around with adding sound to the piece- I considered recording myself reciting some of my writing and poetry on my body, but I don’t really like the sound of my voice, and someone else’s voice would not work as it is a personal piece. I feel music would be distracting, so I might ask some people I know who work with sound to help me come up with something, as I feel the work could benefit from it.

This is definitely a work in progress, and I am excited to see what I can do with it in the future! When I finish my MA I think I would like to get a group of fat artists together to put on an exhibition and run some drawing workshops in the space, inspired by my original Fat Bodies Drawing Workshop for the Post Grad Community at my uni, but bigger, better and fat artist only! Perhaps this work will be part of it, but perhaps I may have moved on to a different piece by then.

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