Rachel Thomas is a doctoral candidate at Concordia's Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture (CISSC). Her research blurs the boundaries between traditional media, technology and bio-fabrication, centred around the medicalized body with specific focus on women's health. Using heuristic research strategies, she seeks to open discourses between the objective medical gaze and the subjective patient experience. Her current work is a graphic novel exploring the impact of medical and social gazes on obese women as a means to promote accessibility of new research outside of the academic sphere.
In this chapter excerpt from her upcoming graphic novel Shrink, Public Scholar and CISSC PhD candidate Rachel Thomas explores perceptions of the female body regarding weight and self-identity.
Shrink is an in-progress graphic novel that chronicles a journey from the ‘morbidly obese’ body into the ‘fit and healthy’ body, and the anxiety-ridden space created by medical and social expectations. At its core it negotiates the experience of fatness, and how Western culture seeks to frame this body type (both in positive and negative lights). Further it discusses the anxiety of either gaining weight or losing weight; options that, in a society of contradictory schools of thought on body size and health, are becoming more convoluted. As a short but poignant chapter, Fear examines what the emotion looks like in a physical form, and how, without warning, can be all-consuming. While this chapter relates directly to the process of weightloss, there is a call to examine fear in one’s own story as well: what form it takes, what it does, and the merit in accepting it.