This concept comes from the Reflection (and subsequent meltdown) I had, and some of the threads that I began to pull out. A strong memory I have was when I was 18 (fresh at university and a UK size 8 at the time, although my size is really irrelevant). I was walking down the road in my fake (!) Victoria Beckham for Rock & Republic white skinny jeans (I will add this was 2011 guys) when some man shouted out his window ‘fat girls can’t wear white jeans’. Now, as someone who has had a very turbulent relationship with my body due to my upbringing (and also being a teenager during the 00 trend, hi 90s babies!), my fragile teenage mind was devastated. I have literally never worn white on my bottom half since because of this fear of being seen as ‘fat’. Now I am actually ‘fatter’ it is time to turn this negativity on it’s head because I know that every person, regardless of gender, has had moments like this. Where they feel big, uncomfortable or less-than. When someone judges them. I did actually buy a pair of white jeans about a year ago and they have never been worn because of this negative connotation I now have with them. I wanted to explore and build a concept round this so I put those jeans on and whipped out my camera to see if I could document my body in some way. I began to experiment with creating a bulge or ‘muffin top’ over the jeans, making myself look ‘fat’ in them. I feel these images are so powerful and created a springboard to move the concept forward.
I began to take photos of myself in underwear and leggings: highlighting things I am scared of or don’t like about my body. I wrapped tape around my stomach to create rolls and pulled my leggings down to enhance this shape. I emphasised my stretch marks: my biggest insecurity. I also explored my relationship with restriction and belts. I always pull my belt painfully tight to make my waist look smaller, but what does it actually look like underneath my clothes? I love these photos, I feel like they are strong and I really want to move these forward in both restriction and silhouette.
I went back to my photos and put them into the computer, digitally drawing round the basic shape and playing around with quick silhouette generation and croquettes.
This is one of my favourite pages and I feel like I could really see this pushing forward into strong shapes.
I collaged a couple of shape together, pushing it really abstract!! I am going to save these for future experiments.
I started to think about the grotesque, growths, alien bodies and Simon Birch is a great artist to look to for his expression in pushing the boundaries of the human form.
Once I had taken this auto-ethnographic stance, it opened up so much more research material into the body. A couple of supporting quotes:
Fat Activists’ Strategies on Stage: Redefining Fat Identity. A Comparison of Scottee, Brenda Oelbaum, and Sins Invalid: Camille Ronti, 2017 “fatness has become the symbol of what is considered wrong with contemporary society”
The Cutural Politics of Body Size: Helen Gremillion, 2005 “Note that much of the literature examining Euro-American constructs of body size analyzes gendered specifications for “ideal” bodies. men’s and women’s representations of Wellness.” “The control of body size, especially for the fit middle-class professionals interviewed in the study, is a key concern here”
Overall, I feel this is a very strong experiment and I am confident I have a good grounding for a concept to possibly take forward into future projects.