PRIMARIES by Keet
I drew my first fat femme in 2007. I was twenty years old. I remember the excitement and joy of my hand moving to convey bulges and folds of flesh and fabric across the page. It was a moment of affirmation and power after years and years of drawing thin people, a lightbulb click in the mind and heart.
As a child I loved looking at the way fabric textures and patterns draped, and often daydreamed of the possibilities of clothing and accessories to express and transform the inner and outer perceptions of oneself. But growing up amidst the noise of a sexist, racist and fatphobic society, I was often told that I was too much and yet never enough. Women, especially fat women of colour, are often told through slick imagery and sly copy to minimize their presence as much as possible. I also knew how violently the fashion industry likes thin, mostly white bodies that disappear in the service of propaganda and aesthetics. This is reinforced through systemic tactics and barriers, from colonization and enforcing Western norms of beauty to the dearth of clothing sizes and options. In this way we are rendered visible and invisible. In this illustration series, called PRIMARIES, I wanted to draw attention to fat bodies and clothing and to illuminate and maximize through texture, pattern and personality. Where fashion wants to hide and minimize I want to enhance and emphasize. But more than that, drawing these portraits of fat femmes is a redemptive process for me, a way to express a loving truthfulness about fat women's bodies while seeking to open portals of creative and transformed perception through representation. A love letter, if you will, to all the fat girls of colour before and after me. Creating PRIMARIES carries the exhilaration of the first time I drew a fat woman almost a decade ago, with it the glory and fun of creating images that represent and reflect me.
Noelle Geniza/KEET is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Manila, Philippines. Her art employs zines, comics, drawing, painting, collage and illustration to explore the cusps between personal heritage and narrative reinvention. Drawing fat femmes is her way of satisfying her younger self. Drawing fan art of her favourite childhood shows also does the trick. Her recent works and process can be seen on her frequently updated Tumblr and on Instagram @makeshiftlove. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada.