Fatty Number Two

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Originally published by the Skin Deep Project April 2014

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Fatty Number Two

*My body did nothing to you.

 

 

Does anyone else remember being weighed in PE class at school? Do they still do that?

 

I’m not sure, but I think this is where one of my high school nicknames began.

 

Fatty Number Two.

 

I still don’t know who Fatty Number One was.

 

Although I don’t remember what I weighed and therefore can’t tell you my BMI or any surface indicator like that – I can tell you that I walked to school every day and I was the second fastest in my class in the 100 and 200 metre sprints. And looking back on photos from that period – I wasn’t fat at all** – I was healthy and beautiful.

 

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Image: aged 12, attending a school formal

 

(**And even if I had been, clearly Fatty Number Two was not an appropriate nickname for anyone to be gifted with!!)

 

Yet I believed I was fat, because I’d been labelled fat and therefore fat I was. My relationship with food quickly became an unhealthy dance between eating nothing and shovelling in a chocolate bar where no one could see me. My body was a source of shame, something to be covered, hidden and punished.

 

As I entered the official ‘teen’ years, I hit puberty early and was one of the first girls in my class to have breasts. And even once the other girls joined me, I remained one of the bustier in my age group throughout high school. Cue bra strap pulling and another new nickname ‘socks’. I had a boy in Year 9 date me for a week just because he wanted to confirm that my breasts were real and not a bra full of socks/tissues.

 

Sigh.

 

My body just refused to conform. Refused to let me disappear into the background, however much I wanted it to. I spent less time eating and more time pretending to eat. The secret chocolate bars disappeared. Yet rather than becoming smaller, my body betrayed me and I actually started to gain weight.

 

I felt trapped. Trapped and fat and ugly. Undesirable. Undesirable in a world which told me being desirable was the road to love. My body had become a battleground, though I don’t remember ever signing up for the war.

 

Your name, here.

Ready to stand

Arms raised

Songs spilled

Border to border

With shaking hands.

 

We march, together

Apart, separate

From the skin we live within

The smile lines that coat hands

Faces, familiar spaces.

 

We sing,

Histories into scars

Bodies into boxes

Heroes into holes.

 

We speak,

With lips that shake

Eyes that remake

These models,

To measure by.

 

I intend to write about the turning point in my war with my body next month – but I wanted to ask you all, what has been the turning point for you or someone you know? And if you haven’t found the turning point yet, what do you think would help?

 

A Caring Portrait – 2015

Four artists. Ten carers.
 
Many stories. One exhibition.
 
 
 
Weight I’m trying to hold for you/
a gift I’m trying to save for you/
these words I try to tame for you//
poem by @lylyee
 
 
A Caring Portrait was a micro community arts and cultural development project bringing together individuals with a caring role as a collaborating partner with professional artists. Together the artists and participants created fantasy portraits, which celebrate and share the diversity and strength of what lays beneath the exterior of individuals in a caring role. The project was commissioned by Carer Support and proudly supported by the Australian Government HACC (Home and Community Care) Program.
 

As an artist and maker and as a person I’m particularly fascinated by the secret dreams everyone has for themselves and how these dreams influence our daily lives and stories. And the tension between who we are inside and who we sometimes need to be for others which is especially relevant when you have a caring role. And so with A Caring Portrait I really hoped that the project could be an invitation for the participating carers to share their stories and hopes with us and that in some small way the end product would celebrate and document the diversity and strength of the amazing carers that are part of the Carer Support community.

 

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(…)
 
“It reminded me of what is important and what I would like to achieve for myself,” she said.
 
By shifting the focus from her family to herself, Danielle felt the process began to motivate her to think about areas of her life that she may have previously not been able to make time for.
 
“It was empowering,” Danielle said.
 
(…)
 
 
 
 
My cake collection baked a fierce feminist/
I am she/
she is me/
I accept//
poem by @lylyee
 
 
Artist Team
L – R: Siobhan, Alysha, Vanessa, Brianna
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A Caring Portrait
 
February to May 2015
 
Alysha Herrmann – Creative Producer and Poet (@lylyee)
 
Vanessa Kalderovskis –Body and Face Artist
 
Siobhan Fearon – Photographer
 
Brianna Obst – Assistant artist
 
Collaborating Carers:
Marissa Wilkinson
Jessica Scoble
Penelope Monk
Vanessa Kalderovskis
Danielle Crew
Jade Teigeler
Dianne Hill
Mark Woodhouse
Jacinta Woodhouse
Joshua Stokes
 
 
Thank you to all of the fantastic staff at Carer Support who supported this project and for their ongoing passion for the work they do of caring for carers.
 
In particular thank you to Carer Support staff Marg, Tina, Julie and Josh for initiating the project with Alysha and Vanessa and collaborating with the artists to see it come to life.
 
You can see the final exhibition of photography and poetry at the Southern Carer Support Centre, 241B Main South Road Morphett Vale during office hours.
 
Photographer Siobhan Fearon shared some beautiful blog thoughts into the process along the way, which you can find here: http://siobhanfearon.weebly.com/blog/category/acaringportrait

 

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Another Elusive Maybe

AEM promo image 1

“Amidst all the rabble about the true meaning of Fringe, I can tell you that this is it. Real art that pushes the boundaries – art that is completely different to anything you’ve experienced before.” Jen St Jack, Great Scott

 

Every show performed in a different lounge room. A one woman theatre experiment asking “How can we feel so alone surrounded by people who love us?”

 

“The sound of a baby crying

The sound of a kettle boiling

The sound of a dog howling

The sound of a closing door”

 

 

Another Elusive Maybe was a performance experiment presented as part of the Adelaide Fringe 2016. Each ‘show’ was presented in a different (real life) lounge-room for a maximum of 8 people per show. The performance incorporated poetry & soundscape (via silent disco headsets), live text message conversations (with each individual audience member) and expressing breast milk.

 

What does motherhood, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding and mummy worries have to say about how we all connect in a world overloaded with sorrow?

 

“Nine people – performer and audience – sit in a suburban lounge room. We are ostensibly together, hearing the same words and seeing and doing the same things. We are intimate, and yet, we are isolated.” – Jenn St Jack, Great Scott

 

“There are so many simple, yet sophisticated layers to this wonderfully human work providing deep food for thought about the issues Herrmann set out to explore and experiment on. You feel comforted by what you hear, because the delivery takes the sting out of the real struggle those words are dealing with, as much as you love the genuine warmth and joy there too. Equally, because of this, you feel at ease anonymously having a frank and honest discussion about some deep things. You are in a comforting place known to most, a lounge room.” – David O’Brien, The Barefoot Review

 

Anonymous audience feedback (via text message)

“A BIG WoW!!! Thankyou!!! Really made me think….and feel! x”

“Wow. I’m literally blown away by how you guys create art. Like what makes you think this is the way I want to perform this story!! Yes well job well done!!! I hope you feel proud to try and make your way through this fucked up beautiful world!!”

“I really enjoyed it and I think I talked to my partner about it longer than it went for. I read the whole leaflet afterwards. Even yesterday. And that’s the thing with art and with what you did, you don’t know how long it lasts or when it takes hold. (….) I like that you talked about what we (I) think about. (…) Thanks again, so much for the inspiration. You at least made a difference here.”

“How do you this with kids? It must nearly break you surely. I feel like crying right now. From inspiration and appreciation, sadness for what I’m not doing. (….) Thank you for sharing. I loved and appreciated it. Hugely.”

“Impressed with your ability to maintain mulit threads of convo. I keep forgetting to listen while typing/reading. Which in itself is interesting..”

“This (your performance) is the strangest combination of intimate yet distant, personal yet remote, familiar yet unusual. Fascinating.”

“Very tightly structured, rich, densely packed with poetic fantasy and reality.”

 

audience feedback image

 

Another Elusive Maybe

By Alysha Herrmann & Ryan Morrison

Public season, Adelaide Fringe 2016

16 & 23rd February, 8th March

Various lounge rooms.

Another Elusive Maybe Program Zine PDF

Listen to the headset audio from AEM: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2q9aa1fwf80rmvo/Another%20Elusive%20Maybe%20%28Final%20Draft%29.mp3?dl=0

 

Interview with The Upside News, which sheds light on the impetus and ideas behind Another Elusive Maybe: https://theupsidenews.com/2016/02/11/interview-another-elusive-maybe-the-fringe-show-in-your-lounge-room/

Great Scott Review by Jen St Jack: http://greatscott.media/2016/03/09/another-elusive-maybe/

The Barefoot Review by David O’Brien:http://www.thebarefootreview.com.au/menu/theatre/119-2014-adelaide-reviews/1292-another-elusive-maybe.html

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A gathering of sticks and stones #poetry #thedirtythirtychallenge #fire

 

A gathering of sticks and stones:

 

I see the strain in your hunched shoulders little love

Your crouched knees show me everything

Eye to eye we curl into each other

My fingers reach towards you

Flickering and clean

But you –

   Retreat.

 

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Dirty Thirty Day 23 Prompt:

Write a poem from the perspective of a natural element ie. water, fire, earth etc., or a force of nature, for instance, a hurricane, earthquake, tornado etc.
The clincher: the poem gets shorter with each line.

 

The Dirty Thirty Challenge is one poem a day for the thirty days of April. Dirty Thirty prompts are from ‘The Dirty Thirty Challenge’ facebook group (admins). Poems published here are my own unless otherwise specified.

Light #poetry #lovestory #marriage #home

Light:

It spreads.
Inching it’s way across my smile. Across the lines around my mouth and the old tightness in my jaw. Curling into the moment of skin where my ears touch my face. Tickling its way up into my hair, ghost fingers of joy. Undeniable.
It spreads.
Whenever I look at you. Whenever you look at me.
It spreads.
In time. In space. In this.
It spreads.

 

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Prompt – ‘freewrite friday”

Conjoin #oldflame #poetry #thedirtythirtychallenge

 

Conjoin:

 

Dear Him.

 

How many years now?

 

How many years have we folded into the secrets that time is made of?

 

My secrets.

Yours.

A bibliography of dreams untouched by truth. We seeded something though, you and I. In dark corners and deep dreams. In silliness and fire skin. In spiky grass and houses made of dust. In teenage legs and adult eyes. In too many truths and not enough sighs.

 

In windows that were too dirty to see through. I always stood looking out. Hands on hips. Words on lips.

 

And saw/

 

I made you into a troubadour. A perfect warrior poet. All muscles and skin and letting me – only me – in.

 

And

 

We seeded something, you and I. A poppy seed dream. An unlined seam. A sparkle in a stream. My feet cracked the banks and I looked down to see/

 

 

/I was losing me.

 

I don’t remember the last time.

 

The last time that I loved you.

 

But I remember the first.

 

Its skeletal remains a wind chime in my memory

Bones that scream and sing in the wind

Tones that make beauty taste like maybe

Love taste like I didn’t know how perfect I could be

Yesterday taste like salad without dressing

Today taste like tomorrow taught me how to roar

 

I stopped loving you. Because I started loving me.

 

Because that little seed of spinach made me taste a different song. A song that leads me on. And on. And on. And on.

 

It’s a song that tastes like grateful. A song with your son’s eyes. A song with my laugh.

 

How many years now?

 

How many more?

 

To find the peace I came for?

 

From Her.

 

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Another Dirty Thirty poetry prompt:

Day Twenty One

Write a love letter to an old flame.
The catch? To make sure it doesn’t sink to a sea of sappiness, try to use 1 or more of the following word/phrases in the poem:
poppy seed, bibliography, troubadour, skeletal, spinach, conjoin