A few months ago I went to the art installation of The New School University student, Nuralia. It was called, Don't Be A Puppet / Love Yourself, and delved into the topic of eating disorders, specifically Bulimia. The first part of the installation had real online posts from people on eating disorder forums.
Their words were shocking and their negative feelings about their bodies, raw and on display for the world to see. I spent a long time reading their words and feeling their pain. The next part showed a dress form with markings for plastic surgery as a reminder of how pervasive it is in our culture.
Following this was a series of mirrors, each with their own purpose. The first represented what a person with a healthy body image would see and say while looking in the mirror. Sentiments included: "I am beautiful just the way I am!" were written across my reflection. The second mirror reflected a distorted body image, a skeleton representing the sickness that is Bulimia and negative thoughts scribbled across my reflection. Thoughts like, "I won't eat tomorrow!" attacked my image. The final mirror represented recovery and how a healthy person would approach body issues. After the mirrors, I was asked to write what I love about my body on a poster. (My freckles and that I can bench press 50 pounds!).
Nuralia will record and compile these celebratory comments at the end of her tip. I was also asked to commit to trying to love my body (I will!) and took an Endangered Bodies sticker; I got a lot of comments and smiles as I wore it home. The installation also included a series of strings set up to represent how eating disorders control lives and treat people like puppets. The final piece was this eye-opening video, called Onslaught:
Nuralia has been researching this topic for some time throughout Germany, South Africa, New Zealand and England and has a passion for educating others about eating disorders. She plans to travel across the world with her show, raising awareness, tailoring the installation to each culture, and raising money for local causes. Her previous installation raised money for BEAT. The installation at the New School University raised money for Endangered Bodies NYC.
If you would like more information, please contact Nuralia at nuraliasonjadaniela[at]gmail[dot]com
Elizabeth Stilwell is a former educator, life-long learner, and perpetual note-taker. Her blog, The Note Passer, is dedicated to the adventure and education of life. She invites you to stop by and enjoy the interestingness of life and learning.