Thursday, April 3, 2008

From Behind Bars, Part XIII, On Body Tracings

This one’s a goodie, folks. I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days now, relishing the very idea of roasting the world’s most ill-conceived art project. I mean, this was a catastrophe. Picture this:

Partnering up with a fellow prisoner, who always, without fail, was thinner than you, which always, always, made me utter a few curses. This was some law, like Murphy’s Law, but instead of something always going wrong in any given situation, the Law was that you will always feel as fat as maximally possible in any given circumstance. And body tracings were the ideal situation for that, lemme tell you. Pictured here is the actual art room at CFC, but with fake patients. For confidentiality reasons, obviously they can't show any real prisoners. I can see some members of the cleaning staff and a receptionist. But. The body tracings on the wall are the real deal. In fact, I must've been in treatment when this picture was taken, because I very much remember seeing those tracings in real life. Too bad mine's not up there for all to behold...

So I partner up with a teensy little sprite, lie my fatness all over a giant piece of paper, and try not to preoccupy myself too much with my monumental thighs spread out for the entire world to see. I will her to move faster, faster, as she traces the outline of my entire body. I’m sweating now, and I hope she doesn’t notice it as the pencil goes up into my armpits and back down the other side of my arm.

I’m painfully aware of not just how big I am, but how looooong I am, too. My feet are barely on the paper, and half my head’s cut off, too. Suck.

She lies down now, and I’m done tracing her in about 3.849237 seconds. It didn’t take long, seeing as she’s the approximate size and weight of a hummingbird. I look at her body tracing, and then I look at mine, and a few more appropriate curses are uttered. I go to my corner of the art room, find a giant eraser, and proceed to narrow my body by, oh, you know, a few inches. I now look more like a Barbie doll, and I feel much better. I sit back on my heels in satisfaction, and notice that everybody around me is narrowing their bodies, too! And then I feel better, except the hummingbird now looks like a bumblebee. [Cue curse]

Once the tracings are completed, and the care techs and art/recreation therapists have calmed down a few girls from their minor panic attacks that included, but were not limited to, head banging, hyperventilation, and impulsive attempts at going AWOL, we begin the excruciatingly painful “creative” part, which, if you recall from my previous post on Art Therapy and other various posts concerning my missing creativity chromosomes, (although, it does seem I have an affinity for Easter hats, does it not? I am an accomplished maker of Easter bonnets. And it feels good.) I am so un-gifted in this area, so it could get really painful.

See, the point of this train wreck of a project was to color/paint/draw in our bodies the way we really felt on the inside. You know, our emotions and all that jazz. So most bodies were filled with black pain and Chiclet-sized particles of fat, broken hearts, blood, tears, gore, etc, etc.
And did I mention gore?
So I painted my body with some of the requisite black paint, (you weren’t cool unless you had black pain) a barren tree, and like, a sunset or something. I’d like to tell you it was deep, and meant so much, but it wasn’t. Not even a little bit. I just think sunsets are pretty, and something needed to occupy my faux Barbie-sized self.

This mission inevitably took more than one art project, which bored me to tears, because I always finished the first week, and spent the rest of the ensuing groups staring at the wall and listening to “artsy music” that was supposed to get us in touch with our artistic and inventive side, when in reality it sounded more like some sort of homage to Satan. You know, tribal incantations, animal sacrifice, stuff like that.

But finally, finally time is up, and it’s time to share our fear! And pain! And cellulite! With the rest of the group. We now have to hang our body tracings up, and of course, due to the aforementionedLaw, my tracing is hanging next to the bumblebee, and even Barbie can’t compete with a bumblebee. Boo. Double boo.

But.

Body tracings are over for another six weeks! And I am comforted, until the realization dawns that in another six weeks, I’ll weigh approximately 48585 pounds more than I already do. Suck. Double suck. I make a mental note to get my hands on a super jumbo eraser for next time, and then promptly repress the entire memory.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is this diatribe really very helpful for your recovery?

The Cheese said...

Yes. I find humor essential to recovery and to life. Much more helpful, in fact, than your asinine comment.

jana said...

I can't believe some asshat left that comment.

How can it not be helpful to recovery. I read it and I think, "ouch, that sounds awful, I don't want to ever do that!" and therefore I don't want to get myself in a position where I would need such an environment. So not only do I think it's good for you, Brie, but I think it's good for others to read, suffering or not.

Whatevs to anonymous.

jana said...

Oh, plus the way you write makes it hilarious. Hilariously painful, ya know? Thinking of body tracing makes me twitch.

heather said...

Okay, so what is really the POINT in all this body tracing? I mean, I've had to do my share of them in treatment as well, but they never really HELP....like they're intended to...like normal people will THINK they'll help. I think some person who has never had an ED made up this insulting art project. I do remember, however, purposefully holding the pencil of the person I was tracing sligtly inward...to make her body appear "thinner" than she really was. I didn't have the heart to trace her as her normal self, even though her normal self was STILL TOO THIN!!! I just didn't want her to get all upset and end up going awol. Hmmm....did I trace you that first time we were there together? I can't remember....but I knew I woulnd't have trusted many people to trace me. Now I can't remember who did. Hmmm...maybe it's better I just forget!

Emily said...

I've done body tracings too. SUCKS. Always hated them. And Brie just so ya know, my internet is out for four days while I get switched over to Qwest, and my parents computer does not support cookies (boooooo....) so I can't add any entries to my journal until Tuesday. Talk about shitty. Oh well. And sorry about Mrs Peterson. Can you get new tires for her soon? I hope so. :)

Emily said...

Yeah, that first comment was pretty asinine indeed.

Laurie and Corey Kunz said...

Brie don't listen to that comment they need to mind their own business. Hey "anonymous", why don't you go do something with your own life instead of being so fascinated by Brie and her life?
Dude, when I took my eating disorders class in college (at the U) we had to do this exercise too, but we also had to close our eyes and guess how wide we were with our arms and hands and then open our eyes and compare it to the real thing. It was amazing how much larger I assumed I was.

Christie said...

I've had some negative anonymous comments left for me before, and it always sucks. They are usually people who THINK they are helping, but they aren't.

If it helps, I can find the humor in what you wrote and I think it's important that you write it from the perspective of how you felt at the time.

KC Elaine said...

wow, I didn't know girls cheated! I was always in awe at how thin theirs were and how obese mine looked. Then again, I was like the biggest girl there...

Abby said...

Okay, I'll admit it: I was so glad to have art therapy that I hardly cared what we did. Well, maybe I did have a minor (uh, actually major) freak out about a body tracing once... but after the tracing part was over, I enjoyed coloring it in.

And... I think the thing about holding the pencil inward when making the tracing is just common courtesy. Also, I always got care techs to trace me; somehow that was better. The bumblebee issue, you know?

But, on the bright side, if I ever manage to (a) get into grad school and (b) finish grad school and (c) get a real job, I will never, never, never make any unfortunate people--be they anorexics or alcoholics or ax murderers--suffer though this activity. I will make these unfortunates do projects of my own invention that even the people who have already spent approximately 95% of their lives in therapy will never have heard of. It's possible that there's some sort of law in art therapy that you have to recycle the same six projects over and over again just to motivate slackers to get themselves out of treatment; but if that's the case, I'll just learn the law long enough to pass the licensing test, and then I'll forget it. Promise. No body tracings.

Abby said...

Um, I know that was already approximately 5000 words longer than the limit for APA style blog comments (according to my theory, they're sort of like abstracts), but I forgot something. Kyla--you're ridiculous.

Devon said...

Oh for the love of a fabulously painful tracing extravaganza...did anyone end up doing their's twice? One at the very beginning...and then of course, one at the end. Woo....

Brie, I'll say it again - your writing makes me giggle in an uncontrollable manner and I quite enjoy it to say the least.

Loves

Kyla said...

a caretech did mine too! uh, sorry for the ridiculous comment :)

Brittney said...

Brie...keep writing if "anonymous" doesn't agree with what you write or how you write it then they don't need to read it!

Paige said...

Brie, I LOVE your sense of humor and your "From Behind Bars" series is my favorite thing in the world to read--someone needs to publish it!

Kate said...

HAHAHA!!!
(In case you don't know)...I'm back at Rader (for as little a time as possible) and on THE FIRST DAMN DAY I was here......project?? BODY EFFING TRACINGS!!!
I was like..."Awww....HELLLLLL NO!!".
Ya, I refused.
They are pretty much TORTURE!
I do love your sense of humor! (And quite honestly I'm very interested in knowing who left that comment).
I do love you!
Kate

Manda said...

I really, really hated that project. I did paint the appropriate black amount. I painted a lot of black and red and orange....I forgot the whole eraser thing though...I just felt I hated it enough and I wanted to spend as little time with her as possible. Thats about how it went for me...

Your blog definitely makes it humorous. Did you do the ritual burning of the body tracing like I did?

Savannah said...

Haha...I love this excerpt! I absolutely hated body tracings, and yes I was the freak in the corner having some sort of body tick. I had to do tracings...count this folks...4 times. Holy shit...yes you can say it...Holy shit!

The final time, I drew Jess' body and colored it in. I absolutely refused and Emily didn't really know what to say because I had done it 3 times prior.

Brie, I enjoy your blogs emensely and I don't think I'd be able to recover if you didn't right them so yes anonymous...they're helpful because I would DIE if she didn't write them. Struck down. Dead. No longer breathing.

Loves you Brie!

Keely said...

ha ha ha! I used an eraser too.. I was thinking if she had the pencil perpendicular or if it was curving in to trace me closer. HA! On the whole, who the heck cares except Ed. You entries make me laugh my bum off! (hug)