I finally dug up the file for the BPD Zine I made last year and saved it as a digital version. If you have recently been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), know someone who has been, or would just like to learn more about the disorder please feel free to read and share this with anyone else who might need it. Bear in mind that no one’s experiences with BPD will be identical and this is based on my own personal experiences.
This weekend I assisted with a one day beginners t-shirt printing workshop at 3rd Rail Print Space!
We started off in the morning by running through the plan for the day, then encouraging everyone to either draw their design, or give us their digital design to edit on Photoshop before we printed it onto film for them. This was our first post-lockdown workshop so of course we had a few changes to make the the way we usually run the workshops- everyone needed to wear a mask at all times, we encouraged students to bring their own cups for hot drinks, and we offered gloves and hand sanitiser as well as adding extra cleaning into the day. We showed the students how to clean a screen ready for coating, and then we demonstrated how to coat a screen- usually we would then have each student coat their own screen, but to minimise the risks we had all the screens ready coated (apart from the demo screen we used). We then got everyone to bring in their artwork either on film or trace and lead them through the process of exposing artwork onto the screens and washing the emulsion off. Once the screens were in the dryer we then moved onto choosing and mixing colours, before breaking for lunch.
After lunch we took everyone through taping up their screens and setting up for the actual printing on the carousel, getting students to pair up to help each other print. Everyone left with their limited edition of 5 screen-printed t-shirts and were very happy!
Screenshots of a piece of writing I originally posted to my Instagram, about being perceived as a fat woman after an incident that happened during lockdown.
” Car Window (or Being Perceived as a Fat Woman)
You lean out of the car window and jeer at me
You say your mate wants my number
I hear you all laugh
As your car pulls away
This is the reality of being percieved
As a fat woman.
It started just like that
Back in school
A popular boy runs up to me
“My mate thinks you’re well fit”
I see your group burst into laughter
I spit and curse at you
Before I hide in the toilet and cry.
It’s almost Valentines Day
And you, a popular boy, overhear me
Telling a friend I had never received a Valentines card
You come in on the 14th
Hand me a card and bar of chocolate
The card has a monkey in drag on the front
It says “Happy Valentines Gorgeous”
I laugh it off, like I’m in on the joke
And eat the chocolate alone in my room in the dark that night.
I have “boyfriends” in school
One of them is fat like me
But is still ashamed to be seen with me
One of them dates every less desirable girl in school
To hide the fact that he’s gay.
Dating whilst fat is a minefield
On dating apps I loudly declare my fatness
Lest I be accused of lying,
Called a catfish
Men send me messages that say things like
“You’re not fat, you’re beautiful”
As if the two are mutually exclusive
Or they say something sexual, no small talk needed.
If their friends know they like fat women?
With every boyfriend I’ve ever had
Do they only like me because I’m fat, a fetish?
Or do they like me in spite of my fat, is it something they put up with?
For a long time I couldn’t let my partners see me naked
I would keep my baggy tshirts on during sex
Or cover myself in lacy lingerie
Terrified that if they saw my stomach,
Saw how fat I really was,
That they would leave me
It always felt like men saw me as fuckable,
Or not fuckable.
To be put into either category feels uncomfortable.
Realising that I am not, in fact, a woman
Realising that I am attracted to women
Has been liberating
Suddenly I don’t hate being naked
(at least not all the time)
Suddenly I am able to fulfil my own sexual desires and needs
But that all crumbles away, when a man leans out of a car window
Jeering at me, a fat woman, out on the street.
I am back where I started.
Uncomfortable, lost, my confidence evaporated
Being seen as a fat woman, and nothing else. “
I envision this as becoming a spoken word piece at some point in the future, as I feel it would work well in that context- I get very emotional reading it out and that could work in favour of this writing.
The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction by Ursula K Le Guin, lead by Elena
- the human aspect- not sure if we agree that heroes are the driver of a story, necessarily- people in the modern day enjoy watching people do mundane everyday activities- i.e. ASMR videos, or the TV show Gogglebox
- the container as the most important human invention
- collecting and storing v.s. the spear and violence
- you harvest something but you need to get the excess home, the excess that you cannot eat then and there
- the container being more important than what is inside
- if capitalism is the container- there might be one or two good things inside the container, but the container still needs to be changed/remade
- oppressive systems and structures could be seen as containers
- the work we make, as marginalised groups, might not be as meaningful or important if not for the “containers” we are in
- are we submitting to the container by being part of it, by taking part- i.e. being working class and going to uni- are we becoming part of the problem (container)?
- can we spread the knowledge and power we have acquired?
- are we forgetting and leaving behind our original communities (containers)?
- you carry everything with you- you are the container for your memories, experiences, ect
- personally I think this text needs to be handled carefully lest it be spun and used for TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) rhetoric with the undercurrents of how the container is inherently female (Read: womb, the act of harvesting, home, childcare) juxtaposed with the spear- violence, thrusting, penetrative, adventure, male
- I am not saying this text is inherently transphobic, just that we need to discuss these interpretations and be aware of them
- this text is a product of the times- in the 80s Science Fiction was dominated by men, the “hero” role of fighting aliens, so as a woman Science Fiction writer at the time this must have been how she felt trying to write her stories at the time
- Also in that era trans people had much less of a voice and presence, which is important to note
- “It is the story that makes the difference”
- the idea that people only want to see the extremes- easier to turn into a narrative, to simplify something and make it easier to digest, but doesn’t show the full nuance and scope of a situation. It is easier to visualise a hero saving a village than a mum feeding her kids, and you don’t have to learn from it or put yourself in it- because no one is that extreme
- It’s easier to focus on one or two individuals rather than the whole system they are propping up and are part of- i.e. the current Dominic Cummings scandal- what he did was wrong and he should be fired, but the media focusing on him means that we aren’t looking at the wider issues- that the whole political party in power are corrupt and doing a huge amount of terrible things, that getting rid of him won’t really make that much difference to the bigger picture, he would just be replaced by someone else equally (or more) corrupt
- the human connection can be really important; it can make a story feel more real, more relatable, you are more likely to learn something
- “It is a strange realism, but it is a strange reality”
- science fiction as an extension or mirror to reality, rather than a mythological tale of heroism
- the book or novel as a container for a story, rather than a spear travelling in a linear direction
- not relating to this violent hero narrative and deciding to create your own narrative
- you don’t always have to be the hero of the story, you can be a villain, or just a person- not a hero or a villain, just a human being
- the best stories are where things go wrong, or you expect something to happen and it doesn’t (or not quite in the way you planned/thought) and where life happens
- life is messy and doesn’t always have a clear conclusion, needing a conclusion can be reductive
- the world will always need saving somehow, there will always be things that need to change, there is no clearly defined finish line in real life
Anna Suggested this podcast, linked below:
I recently undertook a commission to design a poetry anthology for the Make Our Rights Reality campaign– a youth led campaign for a human rights based approach to mental health which I have been part of for a few years. I have designed a digital PDF version (linked above) as well as a version for print and an EPUB ebook version. It can also be found on the campaign website here.
This isn’t my first time designing a book for digital PDFs and for print, but it is my first time working to a company brief- they supplied the content as well as their branding guidelines (colours, fonts, logos, ect) and I maintained a dialogue of sending drafts and getting feedback then making changes as needed. It was also my first time working with the EPUB format- I had to essentially throw the graphic design rules in my head out the window as EPUBs don’t keep formatting such as kerning, tracking, and leading as they are made so that sizing and fonts can be changed to enable easier reading. Images had to be removed for this version too as they were far too small and not resizable on the EPUB, as well as removing the decorative bits of design and page numbers. I also had to reformat the text so that titles, author names and the actual poems were all in one text box to keep the content in the right order- everything kept shifting and moving to the wrong place every time I exported it as an EPUB. I’m really pleased that I stuck it out and finished this version in the end as I learnt a lot about that particular format and would feel more comfortable doing this if needed in the future.
Overall I am pleased with the work I have done on this and the charity I worked with are very happy so my first ever commission was a success! My main criticism of myself was that it took me longer to complete than I would have liked- the EPUB was trickier than I thought it would be to figure out (and isn’t as aesthetically pleasing because of the restrictions of the format) and with quarantine happening feedback was slower coming which slowed down my process. I think next time I’m going to give myself a tighter deadline and schedule to stick to to make it easier for myself and to deliver faster. I’m looking forward to receiving my own printed version too which will hopefully be printed and sent out soon!
I am leading next week’s Babeworld3000 reading group, and have chosen to examine a zine made by Dr. Charlotte Cooper, The Blob. This post is essentially my notes covering what I want to discuss during the group so that I have something prepped!
I have chosen this text as it is something very close to my heart- I have lived my whole life as a fat person, and like the author I was was particularly affected by the Obesity section of the now closed Medicine Now exhibit at the Wellcome Collection- particularly by a sculpture by the artist John Isaacs, called “I Can’t Help The Way I Feel” which is the piece that inspired the zine we are reading. I think speaking about marginalisations is super important and I have learnt a lot from our reading groups so far, and whilst we talk about a lot of different intersections- class, race, gender, disability, mental illness, sexuality- we haven’t given much time to the discussion of being fat, and what that means in the society we live in. I think this has a lot to do with how we view being fat. We see those other things as things we cannot change about ourselves, or things that we are born into, but being fat is often still seen as a moral failing, or a flaw that we can work on and change, as opposed to simply being a different body type or being a product of various other factors. All this is why I decided to suggest this text, so that we can open up the discussion and get to grips with how being fat can interact with our other marginalisations.
The sculpture mentioned above provoked a very visceral reaction in me, so much so that I made a video using clips I filmed on my phone of it, interspersed with clips of my own body and other related imagery called “I Can’t Help The Way I Feel: My Fat Body”. It also inspired me to run a drawing workshop by the same name, which wasn’t as successful as I had hoped, but which has continued and evolved into the FAT Project I am currently working on, including the zine I made during my residency at The Playground and a series of sculptures and drawings I have been working on.
I think it’s really important that fat people control our own narratives; if the sculpture, which Dr. Charlotte Cooper nicknamed “The Blob”, had been made by a fat artist who was exploring their own relationship to and feelings surrounding their body and body image I think my reaction to it would have been a little different. I would still have had the visceral reactions of disgust and uncomfortable-ness that it provokes, I think, but knowing that someone like me had made it to express themselves would make it feel more genuine and relatable. Finding out that is was in fact made by someone who is not, and it seems never has been, fat felt like a slap in the face. I am not saying that thin people can’t have body issues or eating disorders (for clarification, don’t jump down my throat!!) but for someone to come along and create this narrative, to decide he knows how fat people feel about being fat is just really gross in my opinion. It isn’t the only work of his that sensationalises, trivialises, and makes the fat experience seem “gross” or “other”. He has made a whole series of fat sculptures where they seem to melt onto the pavement and ooze as they dominate the spaces they are installed in.
Points we could discuss:
- This idea of co-opting or taking over narratives from marginalised groups- when people who do not belong to a certain group of marginalised people try to tell us how we feel or how we should feel (i.e. how THEY think we should feel) it takes spaces/opportunities/audiences away from those people
- The “Headless Fatty” concept
- Fat as symbolism for wealth, greed, laziness, ugliness, as a fetish, or as the “maternal”
- doctors and fat people
- body positivity movement being co-opted by thinner, white, cis, straight people when fat queer people, fat people of colour, fat disabled people, FAT fat people are still facing stigma and trauma at higher levels
- the links to poverty and fatness- as discussed in our first reading group session
- The Adele situation currently happening
- The idea that fat people are a modern creation- see Historical Fat People Instagram
Then we’ll see where all this takes us I guess!
- This Is What A fat Activist Does – Youtube panel video
- https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/everything-you-know-about-obesity-is-wrong/ – an interesting read about medical biases, but America-centric, it would be interesting to read one from a UK based perspective, if anyone knows of anything along those lines!
- The Body as a Battlefield – recommended by Elena during the reading group
- http://www.laurathomasphd.co.uk/podcast/charlottecooper/ – BUT IS IT HEALTHY TO BE FAT? W/ DR. CHARLOTTE COOPER episode 71 of a podcast by
Please feel free to message me with other resources that discuss fatness, and specifically fatness alongside other intersections (i.e. being a fat person of colour, being fat and queer, being fat and LGBTQ+, ect)
Really pleased with how the group went, everyone seemed to engage well with the material and topic and I really enjoyed taking on a more active role as leader- I hope to do it again sometime in the future!
We also discussed:
- Jameela Jamil- the idea of a thin person starting the “I Weigh” movement, how it feels as if she is taking up space that an actually fat fat activist could be using, how it has gained popularity because she has thin privilege and is famous- yes she is doing good work, yes she has had issues with body dysmorphia and eating disorders in the past, but she is undeniably thin and conventionally attractive and so her spear heading the movement in this way is harmful in the long run
- fatness and dating/relationships
- Georgina discussed fatness and sex work
- Feeling like you have to over perform femininity as a fat person- always having a full face of makeup, looking well put together, not wearing certain clothes (i.e fitted/bright colours/revealing), having certain haircuts/styles, always having to look your best so as not to fit the fat slobby stereotype
- fatness and disability/mental health/eating disorders
- Lizzo and Cupcakke – online bullying, especially aimed at fat, black women who decide to be visible
- power dynamics and institutions- having to censor yourself and beg institutions to be given a platform/commissions, and being blacklisted when you refuse and are critical of them
- “But is it Healthy?” – this idea of thinness equating health and fatness meaning someone is unhealthy- it isn’t anyone’s business, and thinness doesn’t always equal health, you CAN be fat and healthy (but your health is no one else’s business!! If you wouldn’t ask a thin person about their health then why do you demand to know the medical history of every fat person you meet??)
- Reclaiming harmful narratives and turning them into positive experiences that raise awareness or celebrate the truths of marginalised groups- i.e. Dr Charlotte Coopers’ dance piece in front of The Blob “But Is It Healthy?” or my drawing workshop and subsequent fat projects
- bullying of fat people is still seen as publicly acceptable because it is seen as something a person can actually change (unlike other marginalisations) and as a moral failing
- Lockdown weight gain memes and posts and how it can affect those of us with eating disorders and those of us who are larger anyway
- The idea of your body being public property
EXCERPT 3 IMPOSTER SYNDROME
(there are a few pages missing)
Notes made during the 3rd reading group The Problem With Impostor Syndrome is a chapter from a book called Steal As Much As You Can by Nathalie Olah:
- the writing style uses a lot of academic language to make it more palatable to academia
- the way it portrays mental health in the workplace is very centred on middle class white collar working environments- it is wildly different in working class workplaces
- the dissonance between big brands and companies pumping out mental health slogans who at the same time pay their workers minimum (i.e. not liveable wages) which is a large factor in poor mental health amongst the working class
- “Advertorials”- editorials in magazines that are meant to subtly advertise a product or brand they want you to buy into
- M&S LGBTQ sandwiches- they could donate to LGBTQ charities any time of the year but they did this during Pride for publicity, made into a meme/sell-able novelty/joke/gimmick for clout – banks/companies at Pride ect
- Brands co-opt marginalised people’s narratives and then toss them away when it’s no longer profitable
- Kim Kardashian and her white saviour complex
- appropriation of platforms- safe spaces are taken over and appropriated by brands and the media
- “Advertising that masquerades as activism, whose tactics go a long way in corrupting our language and stripping our lives of a certain sensitivity; because no sooner have we found a way to articulate our feelings, then it’s commandeered by an advertsing industry which by default reduces it to cliche, leaving us once again unable to articulate ourselves…becoming emotionally impotent”
- allies need to know when to step back and listen
- placing responsibilities with the individual rather than the systems in place that cause the difficulties they are facing via phrases like “reach out” and “love yourself” than brands pump out
- social mobility- forcing people to perform and change things about themselves in order to move up the social ladder
- people forget or ignore their privileges and assume that because they have been successful that anyone from their background or similar can too
- “radical education” – Radical to who???
- solidarity is a choice- you can choose to act or not act, whereas people you are in “solidarity” with don’t necessarily have a choice
- “code switching”
- “Whilst it might go against the ideas peddled by most self-help and management books, I would suggest that rather than internalising the structural shame imposed by the corporate workplace, as well as by certain seats of learning and social circles, it is important for all of us to remain vigilant to the many ways in which is dehumanises and strips us of our identity” we are always told it’s our fault for not being good enough, not the systems failing us, is the message we’re fed- we just need to try harder! We need to realise that these are lies and stay vigilant to these messages we are being fed as they impact how we treat ourselves and others
- we are sold the idea that the “working class dream” is to no longer be working class
- discussion around accents and how it can change how we are perceived, understood and treated; and how we change our accents to fit different situations or as a way to distance ourselves from where we are from
- “To do this, it’s essential to remember that in the market economy, you- your body and your mind- are no more than a commodity in the eyes of your employer, and that any attempt they make to improve your wellbeing is for the sake of securing profit” CORPORATIONS AND BRANDS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS!!! YOU ARE A COMMODITY TO THEM
- “…find ways of putting that experience as an imposter to good use: writing about your experiences, harnessing the dynamics you witness to mount political movements to create a more empowered workforce” this bit kind of doesn’t match up to the rest of the text in my opinion- it takes a lot of mental energy to be able to do these things, on top of already working probably full time and trying to manage your life. When you are already mentally ill/a person of colour/working class/trans/gay/under privileged in some other way being expected to then be an activist and fight for your rights on top of all this is a really big ask! Yes we are angry, but we’re too exhausted to constantly be fighting it on top of the everyday battles we face.
- Allies need to step up and help marginalised people in this and support them- stepping in when you can see your friends struggling under the weight of their marginalisations
- An example: If you are cis and in a meeting rather than waiting for your trans/non-binary friends to announce their pronouns, jump in and introduce yourself with your pronouns! This takes the pressure off of them, normalises the conversation, and gets everyone else to share their pronouns without making your trans/non-binary friends feel awkward or uncomfortable and making them feel like they have to out themselves just to have their pronouns respected
Notes made during the second BABEWORLD3000 reading group, reading the introduction to Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change by
- the expectations placed on minorities- remembering where you come from, but not allowing yourself to be tokenised
- the pressure to succeed that others who are not marginalised will not experience, or at least not to the same degree
- being black and British as a unique experience
- “For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the fact that no one could pin down my identity. I never wanted to have one defining characteristic. I wanted people to see that I could be all of them at once. I wanted to be complex, be able to change my mind, have opinions and interests that didn’t necessarily make sense all the time. My identity was never just me: it was perfect distillation of everyone around me.”
- the quote above particularly spoke to me as I have Borderline Personality Disorder- I find my personality becoming defined by different aspects of my identity, because I don’t know what else “I” am, and it often feels like my personality is made up of bits I have stolen from other people- certain opinions, likes, dislikes, that belong to people I know, rather than being my own
- already exhausted by microaggressions and you then have to educate your peers every time your marginalised group is mentioned or discussed
- reductive- reducing people down to one single aspect of their identity- i.e. being black, or working class, or disabled- you are a “black artist”, or “disabled artist”, ect- you become an involuntary spokesperson for that whole group of people
- a lot of us talking about how to our families and friends we sound “posh” or “well spoken” but in the art world we never feel good enough, people point out our accents, ask where we are from, we have to change parts of ourselves to fit in, dilute our identities and break ourselves down into bite-size digestible chunks
- maintaining the effort of being “presentable”
- discussing how in the media black British people are rarely called British, despite being born here or having spent the majority of their lives here- for example the recent thing with the Windrush Generation, compare this to African Americans who are considered “American”. Also discussing the COVID19 pandemic currently happening and how the media is reporting the fact that British people of colour are dying at higher rates but skirting round the reasons why this is happening- institutionalised racism- and still refusing to call these people British. One example is a BBC News headline from a few days ago: “Coronavirus: Black African deaths three times higher than white Britons- study” – Why is it worded this way, as if to imply that they are not British?
- having to hide disabilities and mental health issues to get into these institutions
- people who have privilege often don’t want to acknowledge that they have privilege
- “It would soon become my most defining characteristic, in a place in which I had thought I would have licence to explore every facet of my identity.” Obviously the author is talking about being black at uni, but for me it relates to being reduced to a few parts of my identity- i.e. being working class, fat, LGBTQ+ (when I eventually came out) and mentally ill. It felt like the only acceptable bit of identity that I could explore during my degree at uni was being queer, the other things were not seen as acceptable- I shouldn’t flaunt my fatness, or my mental illness, or be “too working class” whatever that means. Even in LGBTQ+ circles though, particularly in the LGBTQ+ society at my uni I was made to feel not “queer enough”- I hadn’t yet dated a woman or other genders apart from cisgender men, and I didn’t and still don’t look stereotypically “non-binary” (i.e. skinny, shaved head, masc clothes, wearing a binder to change my chest)
- I made a conscious decision on my MA to be loud and outspoken about all aspects of my identity, but it is exhausting to always have to be that token person to bring up accessibility, classism, racism, ect
- “As a minority in a predominantly white space, to take up space itself an act of resistance.”
FIRST READING – THE PLEASURE BUTTON- LOW INCOME FOOD INEQUALITY- EXCERPT FROM KNOW YOUR PLACE
PDF of scans of the text above
Notes made during the reading group:
- Fish and chips on a Friday night with my Granddad
- sharing of working class experiences via the reading group
- “aftertaste of regret” – this hit me because immediately after eating or drinking a “treat” you start to regret it and think about all the things you should have spent the money on instead. Also as someone with an eating disorder I am also hit with the guilt that I shouldn’t have eaten something that unhealthy, and start to spiral about that
- coca cola- Andy Warhol, shared experience- everyone knows what it tastes like and can have the same experience
- “press the button” really like the rhythm, it flows well
- “the pleasure button” it’s exactly that, scratching an itch
- being working class isn’t a monolith- it can vary area to area, and is really diverse- there are some experiences that are universal, but some that are dependant on various factors
- This text is definitely very focused on the British working class experience, but it does feel super white
- Right wingers see working class people as pawns but we are also demonised by the left
- commodification of working class aesthetics and foods by non working class people
- “Distracting myself from depression” “I associate bad food with free time”
- the more visible markers of class and the invisible boxes that are tangible but harder to see
- fast food is immediate relief and a break from reality- nothing exists but that momentary enjoyment- it can be all we have in an otherwise mundane and hopeless existence full of worry
- facts mixed with lived experience and feelings
- real life lived experiences are just as valid as facts and figures, if not more so
- the current education system needs to change- representation needs to improve, and the curriculum needs to become more diverse and accessible, the system needs to change so that we don’t just have to conform and fit into the system in order to learn, achieve and become successful- we shouldn’t have to perform to fit in
This is the first time I’ve been part of a reading group like this and I really enjoyed it! It was nice to be part of a group of working class artists like myself (I found at uni I was always in the minority in this regard) and to be reading a piece of work specifically about class with these people; we all found we had shared experiences and common ground despite being from a range of places in and outside of the UK. The essay focused on food and it definitely rang true to a lot of my own experiences growing up and even now living alone in London and being self sufficient- my choices even aged 25 are deeply rooted in my working class childhood.