Welcome to the tenth instalment of a series of blog posts going more in-depth into the thoughts and ideas behind each of the paintings in the Earthly Delights series. The series is based on my experience navigating health and diet culture as a long term participant. You can read the full background by following the link to that blog post below:
I set the final feast in this series in front of the sculpture in Calgary of the Famous Five, Women Are Persons!, by Barbara A Paterson. The Famous Five were the Albertan women who brought the Persons Case before the Supreme Court of Canada, recognizing that women were indeed persons under the British North-America Act 1867.
In the suffrage movement women used food and the role of hostess, keeper of the hearth and nourisher, as a tool in the push for women’s right through pink teas, suffrage teas and lunch rooms where they could fundraise, promote and strategize for women’s rights.
However it seems today food has been turned against us. Rather than being the fuel that allows us to accomplish great things, it is the thing we fear. We must limit what we eat to fit the image of the thin, the fit, the ambitious, the hard working, the responsible, the smart, the good woman. In starving our bodies into conformance we spend our time and energy focused on controlling food and controlling our behaviours. We are obsessed with the thought and image and preparation of food we cannot allow ourselves to have. There is no need for anyone else to assert control over us, we are contained, neutralized by our own hand.
It is not only a gendered issue, diet culture targets men as well as women, all ethnicities and economic groups in western influenced culture, but women have been the most prevalent targets, and the most ironic as the keepers of the cook pot.
Energy Requires Mass is a question. Placing the feast on the end of the teeter totter reminds us that in order to have the energy to move the world, we need mass to convert. We need to eat. We need to decide, do we want to look like we can do great things, or do we want to do great things?