Friday, November 13, 2020

Does size matter??

This question bothers me on many levels and the answers always bother me even more.  The fact we even ask it says that unfortunately, yes it does matter.  It's like the old question of which country is more civilised? The one with many laws or the one with none?  The answer is none because if everyone behaved rationally and with kindness to others there would be no need for legal redress.  And interestingly I asked does size matter but didn't say the size of what yet most women will instantly think of body size - that's conditioning for you!

For as long as I care to remember myself and female friends have questioned how we look, our weight, our clothes, hair etc etc yet ultimately we should have always been asking the questions only for ourselves, not for external validation.  Yes, there is a reality check that if you're a diver you need certain clothing before the pedants wade in! For the most part though it shouldn't matter that much so why do we attach so much importance to what is ultimately a shell that contains our soul?

It's no secret that a few years ago I was really rather ill with a period of depression and while some comfort eat I basically lock the fridge and yes I lost a lot of weight and was rather ill because of it.  There was a concern over whether I was actually anorexic due to my poor body self image but the reality is that it was the depression pixies feeding this anxiety, they do that - they pick up on cues and amplify it to an unmanageable proportion.  So, an artist friend of mine twigged what was happening and did something rather lovely for me.  We made stuff based on my physical shape so I could start to see what the world sees.  In my garden I have a concrete bum as a stepping stone and I used to have a full size sculpture of me.

Years ago I was fortunate to see some pieces by Niki de Saint Phalle outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the image stuck with me.  I didn't realise at the time quite how important that image would become to me. 



So, the reasoning behind my piece was that in my head I was way bigger than the reality and he wanted me to actually SEE my true size.  By wrapping me in chicken wire I had to feel my shape as each curve was created, it made me incredibly aware of my physical shape.  And then the hours working with the modroc and paint again reinforced how others see me.  I'm not a perfect airbrushed model, I have wobbly bits and bits that I'd love to be firmer but the reality is it's me and I rather like me now.  There was a time when I desperately didn't, but I had to come to terms with the difference between an outer shell and the internal character.  The shell is just like the window dressing, the character is what makes you, you.

Social media can be particularly damaging, many gifs especially when you head towards anything sexual or erotic are mostly white, slim, toned women.  I've seen incredibly few short black women, or wobbly bums! I can tell you from the swimming pool changing rooms women come in all shapes and sizes, and even if they take the same dress size their bodies will still differ.  Sadly for many this mixup of self, identify, self worth and image are all muddled up together and believing that if you just somehow toned that wobbly belly you'd get the man of your dreams or that promotion.  Now, I'm not going to pretend that certain roles do not require a certain physicality but that isn't the same as looks or not having a wobbly tummy.  

So, the idea - I've always wanted to do these sculptures with women for women so they learn how beautiful every shape is and begin to own and value theirs.  Parks full up and down the country would be an amazing sight!



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