This print has been Shortlisted for the 2016 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
Art being subjective, what most people will see, I’d wager, is a fat person wishing they could be lighter, “bird-like”. But that interpretation opposes my own.
The piece is a challenge to ableist judgment – others and my own – in the face of an ongoing foot injury that forces me to outwardly conform to negative stereotypes about fatness. It asks — ‘How do I maintain my belief in my intrinsic worth as a human being if I am not actively living as a counterpoint to negative ideologies around fatness?’
Because that’s what stereotype does — it forces “othered” individuals to argue for our fundamental value as beings and often to do that we swing the pendulum from one extreme to the other, throwing all the folks in the middle under the bus in the process. If the world says all fat people are bad because all fat people are sick and sedentary, then the basis of our argument for our goodness is that *some* are both healthy and able-bodied *AND* fat, and therefore fatness itself cannot be considered fundamentally bad. But if we’re arguing for social inclusion based on our health and ability then what does that mean for those who *are* sick? Those who are disabled — either permanently or temporarily? Those of us in that liminal space who embody the fears and anxieties of both the judges and those fleeing from judgment, the task of loving ourselves is Sisyphean.
This print is about all of those feelings. It’s an act of defiance — confronting the impetus to disappear/hide with an act of belligerent vulnerability — against external judgment as well as my own internal judgment about what it is to be in a body that I’ve been conditioned to struggle to accept and that I continue to struggle to accept even with all of my political understanding surrounding the social construction of fatness as a negative. It’s both a yearning for greater freedom of movement and a statement that I remain my whole invaluable self in body and spirit even when my body cannot do all the things I’d ask it to. It’s a refused apology.