Fat Monologue

This is a comic I did many months ago (or was it over a year ago?), for a gallery show. Because it was designed to be viewed on a wall, it’s kind of hard to look at online — the panels kind of spiral around rather than going in straight, easy-to-scroll through rows.

I don’t do comics playing around with weird layouts often enough. Thanks to Mandolin for her help with this one.

Anyhow, you can look at the very large pdf file (which is maybe the easiest way to view it, because you can use the little hand tool to move around), or if you prefer look at the large jpg file.

UPDATE: You can now buy a poster of this, if you’d like.

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Fat, fat and more fat. Bookmark the permalink. 

63 Responses to Fat Monologue

  1. 1
    SharonC says:

    Wow. Just wow.

  2. 2
    Bjartmarr says:

    Amp, this is awesome.

    Not to repeat myself or anything, but you really should put a book together of your non-Mirka stuff. I’d pre-order. (You could make this the centerfold. ;)

    By the way, your link to look at the pdf actually links to the jpg.

  3. 3
    marmalade says:

    I especially like the drawing of the colonized brain!

    I think one of the most interesting things the Dali Llama has said is that he can’t understand westerners’ subliminal and outright self-hatred . . . it’s a strange, alien concept to him. Funny, I thought it just went with the species-affiliation.

  4. 4
    Myca says:

    God damn that’s impressive, Amp. And it makes me want to give you a hug, one fat guy to another.


  5. 5
    fathima says:

    that was incredible

  6. 6
    Dianne says:

    I know this is starting to get redundant, but FSM are you ever brilliant, amp!

  7. 7
    Mandolin says:

    I think I said this before, but this piece is so brilliant that it’s literally painful — very hard for me to read, look at, or think about.

  8. I have to send this to my therapist, because it’s like you went inside my brain and took notes.

    The final question posed, does knowing this make a difference in what you believe about yourself? — I wish I knew the answer. Maybe, at the least, it helps to identify the idea that one is disgusting as something inauthentic, a “protective artifact.”

    Lately, I’ve been having the experience of being genuinely surprised that I don’t look the way I expect myself to, in a positive way. Not sure what this means.

    And, in case you didn’t notice, fat, funny Jewish guys (Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill) are all the rage these days.

  9. 9
    Buffpuff says:

    Wow. This is fabulous. Seriously. (And I’m not averse to fat, funny jewish guys myself).

  10. 10
    meerkat says:

    So awesome. That “I suck because I bash myself” panel is exactly how I react when people tell me to stop bashing myself. This offends them deeply.

  11. 11
    Dee says:

    Wow, Amp. That’s just amazing. I got all chocked up. Beautifully drawn, and beautifully thought out.

  12. 12
    Eva says:

    What everybody else said, plus I wished the monologue had kept going, to find out what else you were thinking, colonized and all.

    Have you actually exhibited it on a wall somewhere (aka a gallery), and how was it recieved? If not, I hope you do get it out into hard space/time, soon.

  13. 13
    Ampersand says:

    Thank you VERY much, everyone. :-) I’m answering a few specific comments below, but I read and appreciated all the comments.

    Bjartmarr: Thanks, I’ve fixed the links now.

    Myca: You’re sweet. :-)

    Dianne: What does FSM stand for?

    Mandolin: That’s a lot of how I feel about this piece, which is why it’s taken me so long to get around to posting it.

    Wellroundedtype2: LOLed at the idea of printing this out to show to your therapist!

    Eva: I exhibited it once, shortly after I drew it, in a group show of work by cartoonists. I didn’t get many reactions, although the few I got were all positive.

  14. 14
    Dianne says:

    FSM=flying spaghetti monster. A substitute diety of a sort. Touches us all with his/her noodly appendage and loves pirates but only the internet kind, not the real kind that run around with automatic weapons.

  15. 15
    Ampersand says:

    Oh, of course! (Slaps forehead.)

  16. 16
    Vidya says:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome! Please make it into a poster!

  17. 17
    Diana says:

    This is amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  18. 18
    'Ff'lo says:

    That’s a great piece of work! I’d buy the poster, fer sure.

  19. 19
    fillyjonk says:

    Have you found your feminist shirt since this comic was written? Because they go up to 5x here.

  20. 20
    Joy Nash says:

    This is so great. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing..

  21. 21
    Em says:

    Marry me?

  22. Pingback: The Colonized Brain « A Day in the (Fat) Life

  23. 22
    Jennifer says:

    Fucking brilliant. We’ve all got “colonized mind” going on. I don’t have the fat hate, but I sure do have female hate, and nerd hate, and ugly girl hate…and when someone yells at me to Think Positive! and Love Yourself!, how can I? I hear about how awful I am every day!

  24. 23
    Maco says:

    Think Positive! and Love Yourself!, how can I? I hear about how awful I am every day!

    Think positive about another. Love another. You get it when you give it. Just a thought.

  25. 24
    Mandolin says:

    Maco, it’s ridiculous and insulting to assume that people with low self-esteem don’t love others. Please try to think harder about your “just a thought”s.

  26. 25
    Elusis says:

    Could you please sell this as a poster? I want one for the door of my office so badly.

  27. 27
    Theriomorph says:

    Amp/Barry, I saw and complimented at Shapely Prose, but wanted to thank you here for making this. Ow, and wow.

    Also – just to continue to state the obvious aloud – you’re really, really good. Poster, yes, but maybe book(s), too? How I would love to see this narrative expanded into full memoir.

  28. 28
    Eva says:

    P.S. Just realized I was looking at a nude under the spiral monologue (sometimes it takes me a while to see the forest and the trees). Very nice. Lucian Freud, eat your heart out.

  29. 29
    spgreenlaw says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I can relate to a lot of it.

  30. 30
    Jack Stephens says:

    This is great Barry, I love the panels on Carol Hanisch (since I never understood the full context of that quote!).

  31. 31
    Jerad says:

    Beautiful, really freaking perfect. Please sell prints of this I’d feel guilty making one myself without supporting you.

    I’ll just sit here flabbergasted for a bit.

  32. 32
    KMTBerry says:

    In my great and mighty wisdom, I think this should be a POSTER. It suits the shape better. In the middle of a book you wouldn’t be able to see the art in the crack, plus, it would have to be so small that us OLD fatties wouldn’t be able to read it (even with our READING GLASSES on!)

    This is VERY G*R*E*A*T!! I think yo0u could sell a LOT of copies, and Artists DESERVE $$$$$

  33. 33
    Bjartmarr says:

    You can’t see the art in the crack anyways; it’s a frontal shot.

    (Maybe it could be the bonus poster that comes in a pocket in the back of the book, sort of like the state map in the back of Thomas’ guides?)

  34. 34
    meerkat says:

    Maco, that sounds much more encouraging than that “You can’t love other people (and also nobody will love you) unless you already love yourself” line that people keep saying in order to argue me into loving myself.

  35. 36
    Anita says:

    That is gorgeous, and I love the mind-colonization thing.

  36. 37
    Jenny says:

    Wow. This is just . . . wow.

    I’d buy this as a poster too . . . come to Canada and do a gallery show! I have to do a project on one, and this is an issue that I don’t see addressed enough, especially in art.

  37. 38
    Maco says:

    Mandolin Maco, it’s ridiculous and insulting to assume that people with low self-esteem don’t love others. Please try to think harder about your “just a thought”s.

    I should have reflected a little more on it. I certainly didn’t mean to imply Jennifer, or low esteemers never loved anyone.

    But I feel those with low self esteem give their love the way we were taught to; to those we find worthy of it because they are kind, attractive, confident or intelligent, which is a problem if we think of ourselves as unkind, unattractive, stupid or cowardly. Because we fail our own measurement of worth, we can’t receive back what we give.

    We apply to ourselves all that we’ve been taught about others, so I offer the thought that we forget what people teach us about others and forget ourselves. See worth in those we were taught have no worth, feel love for those we were taught do not deserve love, and those barriers in ourselves vanish.

    That’s been my experience Jennifer. I cannot pull self-worth out of a hat, I cannot think positive about myself in isolation. But in practicing compassion for others I find I simply cannot be concerned about whether I am worthy in the eyes of others.

  38. 39
    unscrambled says:

    I find this cartoon moving and beautiful. I love to see men of all kinds talking about issues of body image–the men that I know and love all struggle with it (fat and not and every shade of grey), and all the issues that intersect with it.

    I also love your discussion of what Carol Hanisch actually meant by “the personal is political,” which makes me really happy, as it is the second most wrongly used (Audre Lorde’s “the master’s tools” wins the prize, I’d suggest) phrase in general feminist activism.

    Here’s the thing–the term “brain colonization” to describe the experience of internalized fatphobia (or internal surveillance, the equally good Foucauldian term another person suggested to me) . Internalized fatphobia is real–the power of your cartoon is your discussion of it.

    Problem is, I think colonization (and internalized colonization) is a very specific thing, having to do with nation-states, and experiences of colonized peoples, and resistance, and history and context and systemic domination. I don’t think fat people are colonized, unless they come from cultures resisting colonization.

    From glancing at the Fatosphere Feed, lots of writers think this term is just grand, and I think that a discussion needs to be had about the fact that using one term to describe something else dilutes and potentially renders meaningless (or less meaningful) the original description of the term.

    Colonization is real and now, internalized colonization is real and now.

    Honestly, I’ve been reluctant to post this here, because of how outstandingly badly these kinds of discussions tend to play out with white bloggers, but given that you post critically about whiteness, I thought I’d try.

  39. 40
    Maco says:

    Thank you, meerkat. :) That is how I meant it to be taken.

  40. 41
    Maco says:

    I didn’t comment on the subject of the thread and I should have.

    This is a profoundly deep and personal message, Amp. Its organic flow, words and imagery both literal and figurative are so complementary to one another it imprints itself in different parts of the mind simultaneously, with an impact that exceeds the sum of its parts. Very powerful.

    Good for you, for both your achievement and your courage in sharing it.

  41. 42
    Krissy says:

    This is fabulous! You should put it out as a comic zine. Thanks for getting it down. So close to home.

  42. 43
    LoquaciousLaura says:

    Amp, you are an awesome feminist! I too cannot wait to take this to my therapist as a sort of show-n-tell.

    Also, here’s one of those shirts going up to 4x:

    (weird URL I know)

  43. 44
    Valerie says:

    Wow. This was really good.

  44. 45
    Tiana says:

    Oh, how I wish I could show this to my boyfriend. Problem is, he does not speak English. :( This is SO what he needs to hear right now, but I am terribly bad at paraphrasing! So, er … if you do make those posters, I suggest a bunch of translated versions as an added bonus. ;)

  45. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » “Fat Monologue,” the poster

  46. 46
    Ampersand says:

    Again, thanks to everyone for their comments. I appreciate it.

    There’s now a poster version available, for those who want.

    * * *

    Tiana, if someone wants to work on creating a version in another language, I’d be happy to provide them with the files they need to do it themselves — but I’m afraid they’d need some free time and a working knowledge of Photoshop.

    * * *

    Unscrambled, I don’t agree with you, and I don’t disagree with you. In non-political contexts, I’ve never agreed with the idea that it’s a terrible thing when the meaning of words grow and change over time; I actually think that’s one of the very cool things about language (at least, English). A feature, not a bug.

    And I really don’t think it’s true that “using one term to describe something else dilutes and potentially renders meaningless (or less meaningful) the original description of the term.” That’s what a lot of language conservatives say, but I think language isn’t the zero-sum game they imagine it to be.

    Anyhow, that’s the sort of reply that I’ve made in the past, when people have argued against the evolution of words in a non-political context. I have to think about whether or not I still disagree with the complaint when it’s made in a political context.

  47. Pingback: Bunnytude » Fat Dialogue

  48. 47
    DrunkBunny says:

    Thanks for capturing how I feel so much more eloquently and accurately than I could ever do for myself. :)

  49. 48
    wellroundedtype2 says:

    Just a note to follow up, my therapist thought this was “really nice.” And he’s a PhD (not that it makes a difference).

    This led to a discussion of the benefits of “externalizing” these inner debates, so they can be seen clearly.

    Thanks again.

  50. 49
    phish says:

    in this day and age, 5 MB is not considered a large file. in fact its SMALL!

  51. 50
    Kit says:

    I’ve read your blog before, but I don’t think I’ve ever commented. I just have to say what an amazing, thought-provoking piece of artwork this is.It’s truly moving.

  52. 51
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks, Kit!

    (And everyone else).

  53. Pingback: The Fat Monologue by Ampersand « Naturally Curvy

  54. 52
    FurryCatHerder says:

    My therapist (does everyone who likes the strip have a therapist?) calls that a “Mind F*ck”.

    The constant stream of put-downs — not about being fat, but more about being a big queer, from way back when I was a much shorter and smaller queer — is the biggest waste of brain bandwidth going. Amp, you so succinctly captured the character of the internal dialog I’ve had going for as long as I can remember. And yes, I’m going to take it to my therapist ;)

  55. 53
    SuMac says:

    Thank you.

    I am currently procrastinating writing my MA thesis related to a very similar topic. You may have just given me the kick in the ass that I needed.

    Thank you.

  56. 54
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks, FCH. Hope your therapist likes it. :-)

    SuMac, if I can kick just one student in the ass, I consider it a day well spent. :-p

  57. 55
    Linda says:

    Oh, this was sooooooo good. The internal editor (in the guise of the infernal paper clip) was pure genius! Thanks for brightening my day. :)

  58. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Should a 5′9″, 160 lb woman want to lose 35 pounds?

  59. 56
    The FlaminDessa says:

    This is preety awsome, I really enjoyed reading it and thought that it could sort of be percieved in a public health image, i.e to ‘de-colonise’ one’s brain to retain a state of well-being. I enjoyed it :)

  60. Pingback: Can we stop saying patriarchy is good for men? « Raising My Boychick

  61. 57
    FurryCatHerder says:

    I just printed it at 11×17 and it blows up Real Good on 80 pound paper.

    And I did show it to my therapist.

    (And now I have to use my large format printer for real work — but always a good time printing off one of your pieces on it to make sure it’s actually working ;) )