Creative Writing | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Nonfiction | Poetry | Women's Studies
Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement
Anatomy & the Makings of me:
Back in 2020 quarantine took a mental toll on many, including myself. I was already overwhelmed with academics, personal issues, and an overall pessimistic outlook. For years I've struggled with my body image, and for the past year or so I've been trying to improve on my self-love and acceptance. Taking back my body and my feelings towards it by keeping centered on my thoughts, not the thoughts of others. Hence the concept for this chapbook project.
Anatomy is a look at all the squishy bits of matter and emotion I’ve been tasked with dealing with throughout my life . I’m an overcomer who faces immense setbacks every day but keeps pushing onwards through all of it. Not only through the support of my friends, but the support deep down inside myself. From head to hand, typing or writing out my poetry, I am persistent. I have my work published in many places, but I want this chapbook to be my adventure into independent published works. Writing is my passion, and authoring has been a dream and goal of mine since I was in preschool. I’m immensely excited to show off the finished project and am happy to have the opportunity to bring it to life. I hope you and the other readers enjoy the finished product.
When choosing the cover images I picked two shots taken at one of my favorite places: The Mississippi River. The river is so close to my house, and I often go there for car picnics with my mom and sister. It’s a powerful force, just as I am one as well. I suppose that’s why they call it the “Mighty” Mississippi. The outfit I'm wearing was one I felt gorgeous in. Throughout the work, I put photos of myself loving my body and in the piece “I am uncomfortable” put ones of me in specific outfits that I overcame issues to wear. We can’t always be photo perfect and I wanted to showcase that there is beauty in “chaos”/ the moments that life gives us that are less than perfect. On the website article,“Get the Facts by the National Organization for Women.” It told me about how early these issues begin. According to the site,” 40-60% of elementary school girls are concerned about their weight or about becoming “too fat” while 59% of young women in general reported dissatisfaction with their body shape” (now.org). This spurred a lot of emotion in me as body image has been an issue for me since I was probably about 6 or 7. The piece “Breasts” best encompasses the feelings I felt about myself and my growing, developing body at that time. I also included a picture of young me in the piece “Hair” as in the piece I wanted to make sure my readers could see my youth alongside me today. I am still growing and changing but the issues with my body have been with me throughout my lifetime. The goal was to put into perspective just how young these harmful thoughts can begin to occur.
The opening piece “I’m Still a Woman” is my war cry. I wanted to start off strong with a piece that encompasses my goals with myself and the project as a whole. Around the time of working on this project, my friend Michelle Quinn wrote this incredible piece about M’s experience as a Black Woman titled: “ANGRY BLACK LADY: A SPOKEN WORD POEM.” where she calls out agressions pushed at M and the stereotype of the “Angry Black Lady”. M speaks about pushing past holding M’s tongue and being unapologeticly m’self . I am a cisgender, white woman. My experiences may be similar to that of Michelle or others but that doesn’t mean they are the same. In researching for Anatomy, I had to seek out other experiences to make sure that I could add my own without speaking over others. My oppression is not to the same extent as many, but that doesn’t invalidate my experiences.
In the chapter “The Rise of The Big Black Woman '' from the text Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia, author Sabrina Strings discusses Juilen- Joseph Virey, who was a French anthropologist and naturalist. He had an interest in bile theories regarding black skin color and corpulence. The theory stated that black skin was caused by a super abundance of black bile beneath the skin, which if overflown could cause stomach disorders and weight gain (Strings 85). Viney continued expressing his belief in this theory in terms of very racist remarks and sterotypes, calling them stupid, that they are gluttionus etc. Women were not spared from Virey’s predetermined opinions as he commented on their supposed big bottoms and pushed out bellies, overtly sexualizing these Hottentot ( Khoikhoi) women (86-87). Virey most likely didn’t even get to see these people up close, but assessed and made derogatory comments in regards to these women, which can be seen today in society with women of any background being sexualized and seen as objects. This particular section makes me think of my poem in my project “More than legs'' as it’s about the gross sexualization of my legs and how I am more than just a body part. This text was my primary source for the intersectionality aspect of this project as it made me aware of terrible discrimmination that I wasn’t even aware of how deep it went.
Overall this project was a deep dive into not only how I define myself but also how society has defined the ideals of healthy desirable bodies and what the ideal woman should and would be. I hope that my work will get published one day and that I will be able to further learn to empower myself and others. I found a lot of information and sources throughout my research process aside from the several I mentioned. All can be found below along with a summary of what they added to my research.
“Get the Facts: National Organization for Women.” National Organization for Women -, 29 Nov. 2014, https://now.org/now-foundation/love-your-body/love-your-body-whats-it-all-about/get-the-facts/.
As stated on their about section on their webpage, the National Organization for Women Foundation is an organization devoted to achieving full equality for women through education and action. The page in particular was used for my presentation focused on solutions on body image issues and how to help those who struggle. Which I implemented in my “What can we do” slide, It also included statistics about women's body image and a paragraph in regards to eating disorders. As I found it in search of things to add to my presentation, I see it as a valuable resource for those who want to know more about the global feminist movement and how to be a better support for women’s rights.
Ganesan, S., Ravishankar, S. L., & Ramalingam, S. (2018). Are body image issues affecting our adolescents? A cross-sectional study among college going adolescent girls. Indian Journal of Community Medicine, 43(5), 42. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijcm.ijcm_62_18
In this journal article, it focuses on the body image adolescent teenage girl college students have. As I fit the description, I figured this would be a good source to start with. While admittedly a bit short, it provided me with an academic study directly related to the topic of my creative project. The result of the study didn’t shock me much. “The study showed that 947 (77.6%) girls were dissatisfied with their body image (95% CI: 75.2–79.9). Among the 947 participants” (Ganesan). Knowing that every female identifying friend I have has struggled with body image, further encourages me to go forth with the project. I may not be able to represent every voice with my chapbook, but I’ll be contributing mine, which is just as important and valuable in raising awareness on body image struggles.
One interesting finding in this particular study for myself was that, according to the text, “Based on the BMI, about half (53.6%) of them were having normal BMI while 26.7% of them were undernourished, 15.7% were overweight, and 3.9% were obese”(Gansan). It’s really disheartening to me seeing girls with healthy weight, still finding fault within themselves. It’s also concerning seeing the percentage of girls who are undernourished/ underweight. There has got to be a way to solve this cycle of hurt for not only girls but everyone. Body issues affect so many and it hurts to see no end in sight.
Phares, V., & Steinberg, A. R. (2004). Gender differences in peer and parental influences: Body image disturbance, self-worth, and psychological functioning in preadolescent children. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 33(5), 421–429. https://doi.org/10.1023/b:joyo.0000037634.18749.20
This journal article was a lot more in depth compared to the previous as it didn’t just focus on body image issues for one group (college girls) but more the influences on body image. Being in this case peers and family’s effect on body image. Though gender was again mentioned, with female identifying persons again having more body images issues than male identifying persons do. It further reiterated the idea of a cycle to me, that we are influenced by those around us. Leading us to pick up the habits and mannerisms of the ones we love most.
The journal article also tells us that these thoughts aren’t planted overnight and it's not only comments but familital habits that contribute to poor body image and diet culture. If you have a peer or parent who partakes in unhealthy habits and/or struggles with their body image, it’s more likely that you’ll end up doing similar things
(423. Phares, Steinberg, Thompson). This source really does reaffirm my topic as being a needed and important one. The fact of its prevalence over many many centuries and ever shifting beauty standards or ideals, is concerning to me and it needs to be examined further, in courses such as ours.
Quinn, Michelle. “ANGRY BLACK LADY: A SPOKEN WORD POEM.”Www.hercampus.com, Hercampus, 9 May 2022, https://www.hercampus.com/school/augustana/angry-black-lady-a-spoken-word-poem/.
This piece is written by my lovely friend Michelle, who in this powerful piece tells of a recent interaction in regards to M’s race and body image. Having further discussed this topic with M, I have been made aware of microaggressions and other mistreatment students at Augustana have dealt with in regards to race and other factors. Michelle is a graduating senior who I immensely look up to. I hope that this piece will move you if you choose to read it.
(Michelle uses M, M, M’s pronouns)
Strings, Sabrina. Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia, New York University Press, New York, NY, 2019.
This entire text focuses on the glorification of whites and the animalistic outlook on Black Women. American women were praised on their danityness, smallness and symmetrical features, or true beauties (138). This again highlights the historic continual oppression of POC, specifically Black Women.
Augustana Digital Commons Citation
Locander, Janey. "Anatomy: The Makings of Me" (2022). Women's and Gender Studies: Student Scholarship & Creative Works.