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Part feminist manifesto, part comic book, big beautiful female theory is a carnivalesque exploration of the ways identity is formed through culture, relationships and the weight of society’s expectations. Without falling into a simple recovery narrative, these essays also resonate with humour, which gives a sense of delight and optimism in defiance of difficult circumstanc Part feminist manifesto, part comic book, big beautiful female theory is a carnivalesque exploration of the ways identity is formed through culture, relationships and the weight of society’s expectations. Without falling into a simple recovery narrative, these essays also resonate with humour, which gives a sense of delight and optimism in defiance of difficult circumstances and unfair patriarchal structures. With breathtaking honesty and fierce wit, Eloise Grills turns her life, her body and her mind into art, confronting what it means to grow up in an increasingly unfathomable world.


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Part feminist manifesto, part comic book, big beautiful female theory is a carnivalesque exploration of the ways identity is formed through culture, relationships and the weight of society’s expectations. Without falling into a simple recovery narrative, these essays also resonate with humour, which gives a sense of delight and optimism in defiance of difficult circumstanc Part feminist manifesto, part comic book, big beautiful female theory is a carnivalesque exploration of the ways identity is formed through culture, relationships and the weight of society’s expectations. Without falling into a simple recovery narrative, these essays also resonate with humour, which gives a sense of delight and optimism in defiance of difficult circumstances and unfair patriarchal structures. With breathtaking honesty and fierce wit, Eloise Grills turns her life, her body and her mind into art, confronting what it means to grow up in an increasingly unfathomable world.

30 review for big beautiful female theory

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lizärd Irwin

    This book was vociferous in the best ways - spirited, horny, vulnerable, colourful, uninhibited, tragic, painfully funny, relatable. I feel lucky to have been able to indulge in something so personal and raw. Parts feminist manifesto, comic book and cruel teenage diary - Eloise’s work is (a word I despise using) brave and self exploitative. Big Beautiful Female Theory will undoubtedly have you addicted, I could barely put it down between the blistering writing and insanely beautiful, previous ar This book was vociferous in the best ways - spirited, horny, vulnerable, colourful, uninhibited, tragic, painfully funny, relatable. I feel lucky to have been able to indulge in something so personal and raw. Parts feminist manifesto, comic book and cruel teenage diary - Eloise’s work is (a word I despise using) brave and self exploitative. Big Beautiful Female Theory will undoubtedly have you addicted, I could barely put it down between the blistering writing and insanely beautiful, previous artworks splattered throughout. It’s an absolute delight and makes me excited for what Eloise will give us in future.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hollen C S

    Unique! Fabulous! Addictive!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    Grills’s central question is if she shines a bright enough light on her body, her ugly truths, her darkest thoughts, her shame, her contradictions, will we still love her. (The answer of course is YES! These things are the reason we love her work.) Her words and her art felt so honest and raw, at times uncomfortably so (but I love some discomfort). I don’t know enough about art to comment but my favourite pieces had echoes of Mirka Mora I felt. Grills’s prose is electric and muscular. A manifest Grills’s central question is if she shines a bright enough light on her body, her ugly truths, her darkest thoughts, her shame, her contradictions, will we still love her. (The answer of course is YES! These things are the reason we love her work.) Her words and her art felt so honest and raw, at times uncomfortably so (but I love some discomfort). I don’t know enough about art to comment but my favourite pieces had echoes of Mirka Mora I felt. Grills’s prose is electric and muscular. A manifesto, a memoir, a graphic novel, a poem, this book is so many things. I have avoided essay collections this year (I will finish ROOT AND BRANCH though) but Grills breathes new life into the possibilities of the form. I must confess to one essay, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Disgusting Cyborg Fantasies, not fully coming together for me or me failing to grasp it but perhaps I need to read it again.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jules

    Wow. Fucking loved this. Hook it into my veins. I wanted to take a photo of nearly every page as I was reading, so I could come back to savor it. So beautiful honest raw and real. I inhaled the book in one sitting during a weekend when I was feeling really vulnerable, and it broke me further and put me back together again. I wish my teenage self who hated her body (and everyone at school) and would hang out at Sticky reading zines could have read this book. Sometimes people ask me why I never giv Wow. Fucking loved this. Hook it into my veins. I wanted to take a photo of nearly every page as I was reading, so I could come back to savor it. So beautiful honest raw and real. I inhaled the book in one sitting during a weekend when I was feeling really vulnerable, and it broke me further and put me back together again. I wish my teenage self who hated her body (and everyone at school) and would hang out at Sticky reading zines could have read this book. Sometimes people ask me why I never give anything five stars on goodreads - it’s because I’m holding out for when I get hit in the face with something that opens my heart and mind, that makes me feel, makes me think and, ultimately, moves me. Something like Big Beautiful Female Theory! Five fucking stars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    I love Eloise Grills’ work so much, and her first book is a stunning collection of art, poetry, memoir and prose that excavates the deep, personal, sometimes painful corners of women’s experiences as bodies, lovers, art-makers. There is such generosity and tenderness in Eloise’s depictions and embodiment of her own and other women’s lives.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    It’s taken me a few days to digest my experience of this book. I read it for a book club over a few weeks. I’m interested to hear what the other women in the book club will share about their experience. I will share mine here. Disclosure. I have fluctuated between a size 14 to 18 my whole life. I'm also currently writing a memoir. It is nothing like this memoir. In fact I’ve never read a memoir like this one and I like that. I loved Eloise’s art throughout the book. I also particularly loved her It’s taken me a few days to digest my experience of this book. I read it for a book club over a few weeks. I’m interested to hear what the other women in the book club will share about their experience. I will share mine here. Disclosure. I have fluctuated between a size 14 to 18 my whole life. I'm also currently writing a memoir. It is nothing like this memoir. In fact I’ve never read a memoir like this one and I like that. I loved Eloise’s art throughout the book. I also particularly loved her idea of The Museum of Fat Bitches Art. I had just watched the ABC Compass program on Bob Weatherall and his lifelong struggle to bring home aboriginal people from museums in Australia and around the world. I really had that sense of “fuck museums and their mausoleum bullshit” (p.117). I want to see the Museum of Fat Bitches Art for real. The undercurrent I felt in the authors raw sharing was not something I found enjoyable. I don’t think it was meant to be or perhaps it doesn’t really matter what the reader thinks…except that the self expressed theme of wanting to be loved and appreciated runs heavily through the book. What was the undercurrent I felt? It was a passing on of pain. On page 251 Eloise describes her mum telling her how to get rid of warts, “you should rub it on a coin and give it to someone, like you’re selling them your wart, but don’t tell them, otherwise the magic won’t work. Does it work the same way with shame?” And then on the last page the book (view spoiler)[ends with a description of her desire to be a great artist who is loved by others…even herself... and the book as a disturbing cartoon of a piano falling from a cliff inches from the readers skull saying, “This was mine but I’ve handed it over a gift, a wart I’ve sold you yours to deal with.” The next page a picture of her and her dog walking into the light with the caption, “now watch me walk away." (hide spoiler)] Will the magic work now the author has told us she was selling us her warts? Maybe but at least not on me. I've spent a long time healing my own warts in such a way that they hopefully aren't transmitted to others. I don't want and won't accept the authors falling piano of anxiety or metaphorical warts. As much as I refuse to hold the authors warts I hope that she finds a way to hold herself warts and all and heal herself...to find that love of self that stops the endless external search. Perhaps, perhaps this book was a step on the way to do this through sheer transparent exposure, through look at me warts and all, love me unconditionally, despite my filthy heart, my imperfections and flaws...somewhere in the book she says she is afraid that people will stop looking at her portraits she paints and what will happen when she is through -being for others-and gets round to being as and for her own self - I want to see that way more than any searching for love through performative vulnerability. Maybe this is the next step. As a reader I am willing to witness Eloise's confession but I cannot be a sin eater, I will not take the piano or the warts, nor can I absolve her of anything. Despite what is written on the last page it is not mine to deal with. I respectfully hand it back and would be happy to read the future book where she gets around to being of and for herself.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Viola

    big beautiful female theory by Eloise Grills (Affirm Press) Reviewed by Declan Fry on ABC Radio National “The best books released in June - from historical fiction to memoir and poetry” ABC Arts / Kate Evans for The Bookshelf; Claire Nichols and Sarah L'Estrange for The Book Show; and Declan Fry Sat 25 Jun 2022 Part comic book memoir, part prose poem, part manifesto, big beautiful female theory is about the idea of size in almost every conceivable sense: about letting in and withholding, giving in big beautiful female theory by Eloise Grills (Affirm Press) Reviewed by Declan Fry on ABC Radio National “The best books released in June - from historical fiction to memoir and poetry” ABC Arts / Kate Evans for The Bookshelf; Claire Nichols and Sarah L'Estrange for The Book Show; and Declan Fry Sat 25 Jun 2022 Part comic book memoir, part prose poem, part manifesto, big beautiful female theory is about the idea of size in almost every conceivable sense: about letting in and withholding, giving in or concealing, being too much, or being a woman "who could fit through whatever hole you have to crawl out of to get onto The Bachelor". Grills won the Melbourne Writers Prize in 2021 for her essay “The Fat Bitch in Art.” Grills, a Melbourne-based artist and writer, is combative in her examination of ideas, such as fatness as costume (celebrities such as Demi Lovato, Eddie Murphy, Courtney Cox are called to account, but Grills also interrogates herself), fatness as choice; fatness as condemnation or moral failing, as inescapability of genes or of personal preference; as an exercise in transformation and redemptive before-and-after narratives. She explores the idea of the body as an instrument or collection of doll parts ("I could hate my body more be the girl with the most ketosis"); as a site of measurements and evaluations, approbation and (in)validation; as a container for commentary and macro counts. Grills's title paraphrases the essayist Leslie Jamison, but her book owes as much to zine culture as it does to creative non-fiction, all while casting a rueful gaze at the first-person industrial complex whose platform it both desires and disdains. (Grills describes negotiating with an editor to sell polemics she doesn't believe in for a reasonable fee, and writing "a comic about my mental breakdown for a feminist website for fifty dollars or so".) Grills described big beautiful female theory as "a big, fat, beautiful collection on bodies and all the expectations put on them". Writing in a vein that recalls the confessional assemblages of Hannah Gadsby's 10 steps to Nanette, Grills inhabits the lives and tragedies of Priscilla Presley, who “met” to Elvis at 14, and Marilyn Monroe, among others; explores the wisdom of Laura Mulvey, Julia Kristeva, Nicki Minaj, Kathy Acker and more. Self-aware and self-excoriating, whether about "my inability to end a list sincerely when I could just make a joke" or how "I'm dubious about it being revolutionary to have fat and exposed flesh and to forgo a razor", Grills deserves the last word: "What I didn't say to my psychologist, was the reason I'm afraid of my stretchmarks is it tells a story about me that I can't control. It speaks of permanence, the weight of the decisions and events that can't be wound back. I'm thinking: how long will I be able to paint self-portraits until no one wants to look at them anymore?" DF

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    Did not finish. :( I really wanted to love this. It’s innovative, genre-breaking, so clever and very witty. But as the book progressed, I found the style tricky to sustain, and myself getting… defensive, I guess? The assertion that communities of queer women were just as judgemental of bodies as the rest of the world didn’t ring true for me, and I’m not sure it would hold up in the world outside these pages. (I think for example of comedian Bec Shaw writing about how as a curvy woman, lesbians a Did not finish. :( I really wanted to love this. It’s innovative, genre-breaking, so clever and very witty. But as the book progressed, I found the style tricky to sustain, and myself getting… defensive, I guess? The assertion that communities of queer women were just as judgemental of bodies as the rest of the world didn’t ring true for me, and I’m not sure it would hold up in the world outside these pages. (I think for example of comedian Bec Shaw writing about how as a curvy woman, lesbians are more likely to find her attractive than men are, and joking that curvy heterosexual women should consider jumping the fence to the side where their bodies are most appreciated.) I also felt frustrated that women who strive to comply with narrow definitions of beauty, and people who enforce and/or financially benefit from those definitions, were grouped in together with women who wanted to be physically strong, or were drawn to an androgynous or butch aesthetic for themselves and/or their partners, or women like me who will never be skinny but find it fun to do aerial circus (or football or rockclimbing or hip-hop dancing or whatever) and are happy to plank and run laps if it helps us learn the funnest tricks (or funnest moves, or how to climb the tallest cliffs) for the sake of pure enjoyment, or as part of working towards bigger dreams relating to artistic or athletic accomplishment. I’m not saying those groups need more attention, I’m just saying that I disagree that we’re the enemy. I know this makes me sound like I’m staying #allbodiesmatter or something equally shit. Maybe I am being crap by centring myself rather than working harder to understand the experiences of others; saying so would be fair. It’s just that, as a queer feminist woman who bursts out of button-up shirts, I assumed Gills and I would be on the same side, but she positioned me and my communities in opposition to her. Maybe that was intentional, but still… ouch.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Declan Fry

    Part comic book memoir, part prose poem, part manifesto, big beautiful female theory is about the idea of size in almost every conceivable sense: about letting in and withholding, giving in or concealing, being too much, or being a woman "who could fit through whatever hole you have to crawl out of to get onto The Bachelor". Grills, a Melbourne-based artist and writer, is combative in her examination of ideas, such as fatness as costume (celebrities such as Demi Lovato, Eddie Murphy, Courtney Cox Part comic book memoir, part prose poem, part manifesto, big beautiful female theory is about the idea of size in almost every conceivable sense: about letting in and withholding, giving in or concealing, being too much, or being a woman "who could fit through whatever hole you have to crawl out of to get onto The Bachelor". Grills, a Melbourne-based artist and writer, is combative in her examination of ideas, such as fatness as costume (celebrities such as Demi Lovato, Eddie Murphy, Courtney Cox are called to account, but Grills also interrogates herself), fatness as choice; fatness as condemnation or moral failing, as inescapability of genes or of personal preference; as an exercise in transformation and redemptive before-and-after narratives. She explores the idea of the body as an instrument or collection of doll parts ("I could hate my body more be the girl with the most ketosis"); as a site of measurements and evaluations, approbation and (in)validation; as a container for commentary and macro counts. Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-2...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kashmira

    Contained in these pages is a beautiful, sprawling, witty blend of graphic storytelling, poetics and personal essay. Grills brings her world to life and invites us to (re)consider experiences of the female body so often relegated to the sidelines. I've always loved confessional writing, and I love it even more when an author questions why one writes confessionals at all. This book is brutal in certain ways, but a total treat at the same time. Contained in these pages is a beautiful, sprawling, witty blend of graphic storytelling, poetics and personal essay. Grills brings her world to life and invites us to (re)consider experiences of the female body so often relegated to the sidelines. I've always loved confessional writing, and I love it even more when an author questions why one writes confessionals at all. This book is brutal in certain ways, but a total treat at the same time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    Interesting but too long and starts to wear after a while.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    A ragingly feminist critique/exploration of wellness culture, queer culture, mother/daughter relationships, sexuality, and womanhood.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Hamel

    Cant wait to read this, I know it's going to be incredible! Cant wait to read this, I know it's going to be incredible!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Sasson

    The power of Eloise Grills' words can only be matched by that of her art. Big Beautiful Female Theory is bold and provocative but also self-examining and vulnerable. It calls us to reflect upon how big female bodies have been treated historically in the creative world and also in the online/offline now. Simply incomparable. The power of Eloise Grills' words can only be matched by that of her art. Big Beautiful Female Theory is bold and provocative but also self-examining and vulnerable. It calls us to reflect upon how big female bodies have been treated historically in the creative world and also in the online/offline now. Simply incomparable.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adalya

    wanna read this book so bad i added an edition w the beautiful watercolour cover!!! and was definitely in no way asked to do so by the author!!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marigoula

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elena

  18. 5 out of 5

    Olive candy shop

  19. 5 out of 5

    ellesploitation

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eve Wickson

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shae

  22. 4 out of 5

    ——

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ari

  24. 4 out of 5

    Martin Shaw

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Santospirito

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kimberley Dunt

  27. 4 out of 5

    nina

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dimity

  30. 5 out of 5

    Becky Flynn

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