On page 190 of her graphic memoir, Daylesford author Eloise Grills writes 'sometimes you just need to say you're a writer, to feel less like a tourist'.
Part feminist manfiesto, part comic book, Grills' Big Beautiful Female Theory is a love letter to fat people everywhere, a thoughtful and witty commentary on finding your place when you outgrow the tiny mould that has been created for you.
The memoir is borne from Grills' award winning short story in The Lifted Brow which took out first place in the magazine's experimental non-fiction prize in 2018.
"I'd always been really interested in bodies and writing about bodies," Grills said.
"I had never really written something that was so explicitly about diet culture, and the ways that that affected me.
"And it was almost like a sort of bloodletting, it just started pouring out of me."
The memoir is experimental in form, with Grills prying inspiration from authors including Maria Tomakin and Ellena Savage.
"I didn't want it to be sort of a very conventional sort of book, I wanted it to be a sort of hybrid collection - so it's got comics, poetry, visual art, and essays," Grills said.
While sometimes an uncomfortable read, Big Beautiful Female Theory challenges the reader to explore their own predispositions, as feminist theory is artfully woven through pop culture references.
"Alison Bechdel is one of my favourite writers, she wrote a memoir called Fun Home, which explored the death of her father, and it's quite similar to what I've done," Grills said.
"I really enjoyed the way she brings in a lot of disparate sources and uses lots of references to pop culture and books and artists and all different kinds of things."
From Judith Butler quotes to Mean Girls references, Grills' memoir is a stark reminder there is so much work to be done.
One passage reads: 'sometimes I think the world was made up to torture women, and then I remember that it sort of was.'
Grills' memoir is an act of resistance in itself, taking up space in a world that tells fat women to shrink.
"Sometimes I am sort of the butt of a joke in my own work, but I'm more trying to laugh a bit at society and that it can be quite awful to people," she said.
"I use humour as a way to laugh at these structural issues as a way of defying them."
The author's own artwork carries the essays throughout the memoir, and Grills' knowledge of the artist's world - and its limitations - is evident.
In one essay, Grills expresses her desire to build a 'Fat Bitches Museum', to provide an alternative to art's pervasive male gaze.
"The art world is still so dominated by white men," Grills said.
"Growing up, it's all I was exposed to and I mean I love all these artists, like I love Picasso's work, I love Matisse but I just felt like I was only exposed to this real male perspective, and it's only through my own research that I've discovered these wonderful women artists.
"So I've always had this idea that I'd love to make a conceptual sort of museum of my choosing, and I love the idea of it having all these fat female artists that I really love."
While Grills said the museum would most likely never come into fruition, the ideas explored in the memoir would hopefully challenge and empower younger readers.
"I think there's so many people who struggle with self image and fitting in and forming their identities," she said.
"I think a book like this probably would have made me feel a little bit less alone when I was younger, just knowing that there were other people that felt this particular way, and that it wasn't abnormal."
A raw, honest, and playfully executed memoir, Big Beautiful Female Theory is out now via Affirm Press.
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