Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Drawing day twenty-five

I was thinking this morning about life and how I got to where I am. Deep, huh? Where I am is a pretty good place. How many of my choices led me here? How many events that weren't my choice led me here? Plus last night I was reading a blog, Crazy Aunt Purl (http://www.crazyauntpurl.com/) and her entry about not dieting anymore struck a very loud chord.

When I left high school at the tender age of 18 (and believe me, I was tender! Very much under-done) I started a Graphic Design course. I was very self-conscious of my weight, and incredibly shy - I suspect there are people from that era of my life who never heard me say more than two words in their entire acquaintance with me. I had ambivalent feelings about graphic design; I wanted to study fine art but had been persuaded/influenced into the more practical course, ie. the one with an actual job outcome other than "artist". Yes, my choice and the best one I could make at the time, but in hindsight (or perhaps, being stronger and knowing myself so much better now) it was likely the wrong one. I'd been in the Graphic Design school for barely a month when one of the lecturers took me aside and told me, bluntly, that I would NEVER get a job in the field because no one would hire a fat girl. I was horrified. Mortified.


Now, I'd been talented enough to get good marks for Art in high school, and talented enough to pass the interview, folio presentation and practical drawing test (here, sit in a huge room full of other anxious applicants on a stinking hot day, here's a pencil and an eraser, now draw this - my "this" was a roller skate, could've been a shoe or a potted plant - you have one hour, go!) to get into the Graphic Design course, but of course none of that mattered. I had committed the sin of being fat, and therefore nothing I did was good enough.

I dropped the course that week. To this day I remember how awful that felt, though I can't recall the name of the lecturer who prompted my retreat (probably just as well! I'm still angry enough, and now confident enough, to track him down and give him the dressing down he deserved).

There were similar incidents down the years, until I finally refused to listen to all the negative talk about being fat. My weight is not relevant to who and what I am. I've stopped worrying about what people think about me. Actually, I've realized that most of the time they're not thinking about me at all, and even if they are, I don't CARE what they think! The only way I stopped gaining weight was to stop dieting (this is where CrazyAuntPurl came in), and I will never go on a diet again. I aim to eat healthily and exercise (yeah, still working on that one), but I will never again get back on the crazy merry-go-round that is weight loss dieting. It's futile.

Which brings me back to all the events that brought me to this point: late forties and back in school, studying art. If that lecturer hadn't sent me running, where might I be now? I doubt that I'd have the ideas and the enthusiasm and the passion for art that I have right now. I know that at eighteen I could never have thrown myself into it with the disregard for outcome and do it for the pure enjoyment that I do now. I just didn't have the life experience or the confidence, or even all the years of drawing experience I now bring to it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Here is a good place to be and I like who I am :)


Anna in Illinois said...

Yeah! Miz Lizabeth! As my niece says "you go, girl!" I'm happy I have had the chance to know you and to enjoy your sense of adventure. You encourage others without even knowing it. Keep up the good work.

Jean said...

Elizabeth, if you decide to put today's drawing up for sale on your Etsy side, please let me know. I would buy it in an instant. I can't say why, but it spoke to me as soon as your blog opened on my screen. And I'm with Anna. You go, girl! I know that your going to art school has been an inspiration to me. I live vicariously through your stories. Cheers, Jean