Sunday, March 22, 2009

the art we choose

I have been meaning to write this post for several months. I haven't becasue there have been so many things I have wanted to say and I was having trouble organizing the thoughts. This is my attempt. Forgive me if it is not perfectly worded.

We all like to see people like ourselves reflected in art. How many times have you purchased an art print or a vintage image for you or a friend not just because you liked it, but because the person in the image looks a bit like the recipient?

Sometimes, I think people collect images of what they wish to look like. But, if your room walls are covered with images of women or girls who are what you want to look like, but do not, how would that effect your self esteem in the long run?

I think about these things often when I am looking at some of the beautiful art on Etsy. I think about it because as much as I love some of the pieces I find, I do not want to surround myself with images of thin women and girls. And on top of that, a lot of the art you see of females is extreme in the proportions, with large heads and eyes and skinny bodies.

I am not thin. I am a fat woman. When I find an artist I like and I look at their work, there are images of women or girls with all different colors of hair and skin - and yet none of them are fat or even chunky. All of them have the same body, maybe some are shorter and some are taller, but all are thin.

Why would I want to invest in this? I know this may seem extreme, because people have seldom questioned it, but stay with me here. How is it going to effect me as a fat woman who is already being told everyday in many ways that I am not okay, that I am not normal and that I need to change in order to be loved and valued?

How empowering would it be to be able to have images by artists you love of beautiful and lovely women and girls who are also fat? I think it would be revolutionary. Imagine if there were so many to choose from that a young girl or an older woman could have many choices of images of fat beauty available to her.

There are some fat girl art pieces out there, but it is often new age in style and usually the artist only does fat people. I really appreciate them doing what they do, but why the divide? Why can't people include chubby bodies like they include redheads?

I encourage artists out there to seriously consider this. I am tempted to link here to the artists that I most want to see this message, but I think I will not. But, I do think I will send this link to some of them and I hope that you will consider encouraging your favorite artist to include diversity in body size.

Here is an image of one of the fat positive artists on Etsy, ladyatlarge. This is one of the best I have found on there. Here is hoping there will be more featured in the future.


Anonymous said...

I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU MEAN! I've actually had this thought a BUNCH of times: why is all the pretty indie artwork of skinny little (mostly) white girls with big eyes? So I've mostly stopped buying. I think this is a lot of why I've gotten into plant images and other nonhuman design motifs.

When I look around my room, there are not very many images of women and girls in this (what I will call for lack for lack of a better term) skinny-indie style, because I have purposely tried to cull them from my collection over the last few years. So there are still a few that I especially like, but mostly I have images of women I admire for reasons besides their looks/bodies: Marjane Satrapi, Dolores Huerta, Tina Fey, ladies from bands I like... And around my mirror I've made a real effort to put up pictures of fat women that make me feel beautiful.

And you know what? I've been a lot happier with myself and the way I look since I took on this conscious decorating shift.

PonyBoy Press said...

That is great. What an awesome thing that you can tell a difference. Yeah, thanks so much for commenting and sharing your thoughts. I know what you mean, I pretty much have only bought motifs that are animals or nature for this reason, and to take it even further, I am especially fond of animals that are big, like bears, elephants, hippos, etc. Fat Power in the animal world, too! :-)

Anonymous said...

I think that you expressed yourself very well. It reminded me of some essays I once read about the Suicide Girls site. They promote themselves as so indie because they have tattoos and piercings, but the standards for body type are every bit as rigid as they are in most other media.

So I don't know. Are all of these art girls just buying into the skinny girl standard? Are all of their friends really little skinny-indie girls? Or are they concerned about market pressure, worried that curvy-girl art wouldn't sell?

As a woman who has had a child, I find it very tiring that it is nigh-impossible to find images of women that have obviously have children represented as beautiful. We've all seen the Hollywood mommas bounced back to their skinny selves within weeks, but no images with stretchmarks, with the strange sags which I had no idea were so incredibly common after childbirth until I stumbled across an online community created around the topic in the months after giving birth...

Thanks for the link. I will check it out!

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