Car Window, or Being Seen as a Fat Woman

FAT Project, Personal Projects

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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.

Transcript:

” 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
And says
“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.
I wonder
If their friends know they like fat women?
With every boyfriend I’ve ever had
I wonder
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
Disgusted.
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
Without shame
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.

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

UNIT 2, Videos, Work in Progress

 

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.