This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Sound of Paper. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.
This is a good exercise, in part because of an incident last night that I still feel bad about. My partner has wanted to help with Fat Chic for a long time, and one of the specific ways he asked to help was to design my business card. He was very proud of his design, where the word “fat” was too big for the card, and then shoved off to the side, almost cut out from the overall image.
I had to say no. I was the fat girl in the family portraits that got shoved to the edge of the picture and almost cut out of the image. I am not the only fat girl that was subjected to this treatment, over and over again. One of the pictures I removed from my father’s funeral collage had a double whammy: not only was it a “cut out the fat girl,” the photo itself had been preceded by my mother and sister converging on me with makeup and the general creepiness of women who think they’re dressing a live doll. I was first becoming aware something was not right with either one of them, and something was extra not right with their attitudes towards me. Female social violence wasn’t a term yet,but I was aware of it, and aware I had no tools to handle some poisonous snake that lay within the bellies of my family members and peers.
While I couldn’t confirm it, that day where I was treated like less than a person by people that supposedly loved me for the sake of “pretty,” and then actively marginalized by the photographer who literally shoved me to the margin of the frame has stayed with me for a very long time.
That’s a lot of baggage for a business card.
This was not my sweetie’s intention – he just thought it looked cool.
But I’m pretty sure any fat woman would see exactly what I saw, and on a subtextual level it would send the opposite of my intended message with Fat Chic.
I work really hard to be encouraging and positive in feedback, and Mike was so excited to be helping me. I need business cards, I haven’t had the bandwidth to design my own, and he was taking time out of his busy schedule to make it happen. So add critic’s guilt to my complicated emotional response. I didn’t want to criticize, but I couldn’t in good conscience let this one sit – there was certainly no malice or contempt in Mike’s design; he just thought it looked cool. It did look cool. It just sent a message he did not realize it sent, that I knew other women who have lived through what I have would see almost immediately.
Fat Chic has to be center frame with the head still on. We’ve talked about headless fatties and fat people shoved into frame edges far too long for me to do it with my own logo. So my husband did something extra sweet for me – and I had to turn him down, because he wasn’t aware exactly how loaded his sweet gesture wound up being.
I am not a terrible person, but I feel bad as I prefer to boost Mike’s self-esteem, and while I don’t think I crushed him on this one, it did make him sad.
In fact, this does fall in my list of things I like/consider good about myself:
- I go out of my way to protect people I believe need protecting. The incident above is one version of that.
- I work hard to be positive. If I write about negative experiences, it’s about getting it out of my headspace to allow positive possibilities to grow.
- I do make an effort to take care of myself. Sometimes this comes in very small ways, but I try hard to look to my own good.
- I am generous, sometimes to a fault. I am actually teaching myself to hold back on the gifting and assists.
- My natural state is one of a happy person. When I am not dealing with someone else’s ego projections screwing up my vibe, I’m joyful, and prone to appreciating what is right in front of me.
- I am a damn fine looking woman.
- I have the guts not to apologize for liking how I look.
- I seek out new things to try. I rarely fall into ruts because of this.
- I am very willing to learn. When a problem in life confronts me, I hit the books, I take a class, I meditate on it, and I look for approaches I have never tried before.
- I am generous with what I learn just as much as I can be generous with material giving. I don’t believe in keeping market information secret, etc. Competition doesn’t upset me – in fact, I love the concept of cooperative competition.