In my Design Principles class we are working on a project for an open competition. The competition is for the 2008 Love Your Body campaign. The campaign is all about body image and learning to love yourself for who you are sorta thing. The campaign is to help fight/respond to negative oppressive female images in the media.
So I created my rough draft that was due today and it was a red background with like a heart and a black bar morphing into a woman who is curvacious. Well I guess my message and my concepts were lost in my composition, because when we did critiques I got some negative feedback and it just didn't seem that my design went over very well. So I was trying to come up with a design and finally I went up to my teacher and asked him how I should rework the design or change it or what should I do and my teacher asked me what I was trying to say. I couldn't come up with anything. He said that I should think about what if there were magazine people or media people out on the street, what would I want to say to them. What is in my heart that I need to say?
So then I started thinking.
I started thinking about body image and what I've had to go through. I've thought about how if you're a fat kid, like me, you're not allowed to speak or have a voice. So then I started freaking out because I have these emotions inside me, these experiences that have changed me. I have so much pain inside me relating to body image and I actually have something to say.
As an artist/graphic designer/creative person, you design things based on what's popular/what you like/what other people like. Ideally you should design something that communicates a message or conveys something. Not just make something pretty. This is A LOT harder than it sounds. How do you convey happiness with a circle square and triangle? I know how, I learned it in this type of class. Anyway, the point is that you learn to convey things to the outside world, big or small or interesting or whatever. This is probably the hardest thing, is to take an idea and turn it into something based on concepts. REALLY hard.
So I sat in that class and I realized that I actually had a message that was powerful. I had something in me that I not only wanted to express, but that I needed to express.
So then I was freaking out, not because that I realized I had something to say, but that I would be saying it to people I didn't know. I would be showing people my vulnerabilities. I would be baring a piece of my soul to them and they were going to make judgements on it. So then I really started freaking out. I've never really told anyone everything about myself. There are things that I haven't said about things I've done or experienced, and this was one of those huge gaping chasms that I hadn't let anyone hear about. EVER.
So I freaked out. I called my mom and I don't even remember what she said really, but I started crying and I was upset because I would have to show people who I was and that's just the motherfucking scariest shit ever. So she said that I didn't have to do anything I didn't feel comfortable with, but I can't just not do this. I can't just step back when for the first time in my life I can express myself as an artist and I can put myself out there. I'm not the type of person to just ignore something when I feel THAT strongly.
So then I realized, well I don't have to tell anyone anything other than what I say in my painting/picture thing, but no I realized I would have to talk to the teacher, because I needed his input on the subject of how to communicate this through design.
So then I made a list. a LONG list of everything I wanted to say, all the things you're not allowed to be or do or experience as a fat person. So then I took my list up to him and he didn't even really look at it, he just kind of looked at me and asked me, "what are you trying to say?" and I just stopped and stepped back and kind of paused and stalled and then I said, "Do I have to say?" and he said yes and I kind of backed away and I don't even remember exactly what I said, I think I may have blacked that out a little, and I sort of started to cry/got teary-eyed. I don't even really remember the complete conversation, but he understood that I wanted to say what I had experienced, and then he suggested that I narrow all of my sentences down to just a few.
So I narrowed down my sentences and I kept coming back to one: 'You're not allowed to exist.'
That is what I'm trying to say. As a fat person, you're not allowed to exist. Reflective of that, I realized later, is that when you look at like fashion magazines, fat women are not portrayed, they don't exist.
So then I took my sentence up to the teacher at the end of class and he helped me come up with some interesting ideas. I told him that I was having trouble relating it to the contest and he said to forget the contest, and so I will.
I think I can move forward now. I went through a weird thing today, something strangely powerful. I revealed who I was and that I've experienced some painful things not only to him, but to two other people, simply because I trust them and I'd already been through the experience once. I want to say I feel better, like I let some deep dark secret out, and I think I did, but emotionally I feel normal. At the time I was so anxious and scared and I pretty much had an anxiety attack, but now I'm just normal. I mean I'm surprised I'm not more relieved. I'm not sure what else to say on this subject, but I learned to be an artist today. I learned that to really create something powerful, it has to be because of something powerful. You have to create something that says something about who you are.
I sort of feel like there's no turning back, like from now on I can really create things that mean something, I'm not sure what's in store, but I hope it will be good, I hope that this experience has taught me everything I think it has.
Also: So if that wasn't a weird enough type of thing, later on I met two tv show stars. SO I don't know how many people watch HGTV, but I met and got an autograph from the stars of that show Room by Room, Matt and Shari. They were pretty cool, and I bought one of their books and got it autographed for my Mom for Christmas. I thought that was pretty neat.
All in all it was a pretty eventful day.