Excerpt: ‘big beautiful female theory’, by Eloise Grills

We are very excited to share an excerpt of the winning piece of this year's Prize for Experimental Non-fiction: 'big beautiful female theory' by Eloise Grills (complete with the original full-colour illustrations). You can read the full piece in The Lifted Brow #39, available here or from one of our many stockists.


I don’t fit into straight sizes anymore guess I’ll try gay sizes
But there’s this invisible border between skinny enough and too fat

And it’s one that queer cliques police

Fatty rolled over and skinny got squashed by her thin privilege

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimised by body positivity

I’m laid to waste I’m not getting laid I’m wasting away but not in the conventional sense
In the sense that I’m wasting my life thinking my body’s all wrong

And if I spent less time hating it I coulda been a female astronaut I coulda been a female physicist a female doctor a female brain surgeon which is of course just a brain surgeon except

It’s not

I can’t operate — that child is my son!

I’m an it girl a twit girl a big sweaty tit girl

BBFT Big Beautiful Female1 Theory
CCCCadbury Crème Culture
DTFNDown To Feel Nothing
TTFNTitty Tfuck For Neoliberalism
OTObjectification Theory2
OPBObese Person’s Breakfast
ABGApple-Bottom Genes
FSACFat Suit As Costume
TJOFRThe Joy Of Face-Riding
DTFBDown To Feel BAD

I’m down for whatever

Debbie Downer forever

I could hate my body more be the girl with the most ketosis I can be a woman who does squats

And push-ups voluntarily the kind of woman who planks

Not the fun kind people did and died diving off buildings their souls cascading like gymnast ribbons

Silly string

I can be a woman who prefers skinny milk who requests a small slice, please, please, who doesn’t need who doesn’t want who could fit through whatever hole you have to crawl out of to get onto The Bachelor who only needs directions to the pilates studio


hi hungry, i’m dad

I can be a fit model an Instagram influencer skolling Fiji Water one thousand plastic breakfast platters one thousand breakfast plateaus on an ancient sea scroll and oof it looks so good I could eat it but I won’t!!!!! I’m going downhill because I’m lazy

I choose the path of least resistance

How come if you’re wasting away you don’t go anywhere????

Moving to the country, I’m only eating peaches I crawl on my belly like a big-boned bad wolf among fat sheep

I go Jurassic fuck Paleo

I ride the dinosaurs through an inaccurate eon to the gates of skeleton island

I take up whittling I take up waist-training

I strain my soul like Jesus turned wine to water4

I turn calories to nothing at all

a non-exhaustive list of celebrities who have worn a FSAC

Kate Walsh
Amy Adams
Demi Lovato
January Jones
Tyra Banks
Vanessa Lachey
Courteney Cox

family ties growing pains full house home improvement

In grade six a girl told me I had all the equipment just didn’t know how to use it, a line lifted from Legally Blonde and not an original thought

Though at the time I took it, all seriousness no salt

Now I am older I’m adequately weaponised
& realising too late that
Wanting everyone to love you is not the greatest utilitarian application of my… assets

My cannons look good bulging through my sweater tho

I’m not sweating I’m merely glowing I’m going I’m too far gone past it

There’s a storm coming, I can feel it
I can feel it in my chafed nipple skin
I can feel it coursing along my stretch marks a storm in a d cup a storm in a ff cup a storm in a cup they don’t sell at standard stores (not even Kmart!!!!) clouds cumming in my teacup
Atonal screeching

Anal bleaching

Abject object project prospect reject reject reject5
Fuck fuck
Mind over matter
over cake batter
Mix it all together and give me give me more
I don’t recognise myself in the mirror anymore

If I had been a boy I would have been named Alexander
If I had a brother then I’d no longer be the favourite

The more you access willpower the stronger it gets the more you hate yourself the less you can resist and I’m not so good at defying temptation

I am eighteen pouring myself cereal and my sister’s previous boyfriend comes in and says that what I am making is an Obese Person’s Breakfast

He calls me asexual, says
I reckon you’ll lop off your arm and make a baby that way
Like a starfish

I am twenty-five my sister is doing the 5:2 diet her boyfriend is too they eat nothing two days a week and whatever they want the other five days once when he was super-high at a party his voice from the other room projected a skinny ghost through the wall I could hear his lips slack his eyes half-closed saying I’ve lost eight kilograms I’ve lost
Eight kilograms
My sister’s ex was right except about the asexual part


Always flaying off parts of myself like lonely wax drips

A badly planned Grand Designs project
The future is fml

When I am a teenager my friend says: every time you lose weight your boobs get bigger and every time you gain weight they get smaller
Another girl takes a mould of my breasts for a papier- mâché pastiche of all the good bits from the girls in our year level
To make the perfect girl
I overhear a girl say the tits are so droopy though


Age twenty-eight, after a depressive episode I sleep on Dad’s couch

He asks if I’ll come with him to a lifestyle and exercise centre

It sounds somewhat cultish but I know he means well & who doesn’t in this day, age

My father runs instead of taking lunch says he thinks fat people are sick, weak

They are lazy they should get out of their food deserts walk on blistered toes

Like Moses if his beard was less heavy with self-pity and more thick with nectarines

The road to the gym is paved with positive affirmations

The road to hell is paved with wellness memes

I am nineteen on the tram and a man gets his dick out and I’m reading a book with my headphones in and I don’t notice him and no one alerts me and he is moulding it like a tower on a clay wheel and eventually I see horror in the eyes of the woman sitting across from us and I absorb my periphery
And I am hovering above myself like a camera like a bee The fluorescent lights humming on my hair on my skin on my cheeks
At least I must be kind of hot to have someone get their dick out next to me6


This was maybe the third or fourth penis I had seen

I had seen my friend’s boyfriend’s, he pulled it out and chased me with it as a ‘joke’
And my father’s in the shower
As a child
I remember seeing it like a nose peeking out of a beard
like an upside-down chin-face
And probably one more I’ve forgotten

Oh yes and the man I sucked the dick of upstairs at a bar in North Melbourne because I didn’t know how to say I didn’t want to and he wanted to fuck me upstairs at a bar in North Melbourne so I sucked his dick instead


Anyway I am nineteen, this guy with his dick out that stinks like garbage


Or does he smell like garbage and his dick with more nerve endings does moreso

Maybe he finds my eyelash glinting in the fluorescent light coquettish
My cheek turned away like a sexy satellite dish
Maybe my hair like a curtain reminds him of a showgirl
About to give him the ol razzle-dazzle
Single-handed applause



The joy of:

Letting air run through your bush

Letting your partner eat your hot wet cunt from behind

Spit trickling through arse hair like a sacrament

Your hot wet mouth my hot wet cunt


Birds and bees
Soft wet strips of eucalypt

Manicured lines of pines

All leaning in to hear

Your thick thighs slap against my fat assssssssssss

Everything is an erection if you think about it long and hard

I love that bit in Anaconda when Nicki Minaj breaks into this real weird fucking laugh and says:

Fuck the skinny bitches! Fuck the skinny bitches in the club!
I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the muthafuckin’ club
Fuck you if you skinny bitches, what?!
hahahaah ahhhhrrrr rrrrrrrrrrr
KyuhHaha, haha
I got a big fat ass (ass, ass, ass)

She lap-dances on Drake and when he tries to touch her ass she slaps his hand away

Spoon me all night then TTFN


bloat floats hope croaks

I wanna be rich so I can buy hot clothes that are ethical or pretending to be
I wanna be rich so I can buy designer clothing that will not fit me
Rocking a huge sack of linen
You can be a farmer in those clothes
You can be a jelly wrestler in that body
The jelly and the wrestler in a gelatine–human hybrid
Be the gelatine–human hybrid you want to see in the world
I’ll call you Rubenesque but WE ALL KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS

I am fifteen doing laps around the block at school for sport
I’m not wearing a proper bra and my tits are swinging swinging like
Painful pendulums

Do your tits hang low do they wobble to and fro can you tie them in a knot can you tie them in a bow can you throw them over your shoulder like a regimented soldier do your



Failing the pencil test
Failing the Bechdel test
Failing the getting fingered before twenty-three test
But anyway I am fifteen or so tits swinging swinging
Swings and roundabouts
Would the mirror image of my life be a happy one?
I tried to make myself vomit but I couldn’t make it stick
Because I hate food but also I love it
Cum Cum in my Tum
Three generations of skinny milk lattes and Splenda
In My Arse

Tfw you accidentally push your tampon out like a baby
Tfw you accidentally push your baby out like a tampon
Life is like every time my vibrator’s battery dies right before I cum

The best art is horny
The best life is horny
I’m living my best life
Asexually reproducing myself over and over in the corner
A starfish self-harming7
Cutting my arm off in a mock-wanking motion
Round yon virgin mother and child
I feel no pain I’ll have no peace
To be fat means having to wait until you are thin to live8


The diet starts Monday
My best and only life
Does too9


who’s afraid of the human body?

Laura Aguilar was a Chicana photographer, a lesbian who documented her life, her queer friends, her family, her body,
My favourite of her self-portraits are in the forest, her body bold and huge in the centre of the frame
The fat body lives outside the bounds of the discrete body10
Can’t be named, can’t be contained:
By airlines seats, by eyes, by straight sizes
She is no bullshit, sprawling on the ground, body shifting outside its strictures, outside the containers of clothes, culture but
Living in someone else’s phantasm11 of what a body should/shouldn’t be
For Roxane Gay the untamed body is unruly, beyond control, the body spends every fat day Living out the fat consequences for its misregulation
Aguilar does not dominate the land like a man, like the figure in the landscape12
Aguilar herself becomes the landscape13

She is within and overflowing and jostling and cascading
Her skin glows in the silver gelatine prints, her curves, roundness, edgelessness, echoing the Boulders around her, echoing the lives of the women who came before
Love’s boundless consequence
I love filling out my body, so it becomes
A continuation of the roll of a hill
My feet planted in the river like pebbles
My anxiety strung to the sheer drop-off of a cliff
Or the setting sun or a spider crawling next to me
When I am of the world


movie snacks

Do you remember that reality show where a group of certifiably ugly women were nominated for plastic surgery makeovers and the one who was the hottest at the end won???
Sometimes I think the world was made up to torture women
And then I remember it actually kind of was
Women rarely eat onscreen unless they are Bridget Jones demolishing mince pies
Or Drew Barrymore eating a dead body like a bucket of chicken
Viscera spraying everywhere like period clots
You know that scene in Mean Girls where Regina George is wearing sweatpants on a day she’s not allowed to by her clique?


The one in which she’s not wearing them because she wants to, but because they’re all that fit right now?

Cady is feeding Regina Swedish protein bars to make her gain weight so rapidly she loses her hot bod/social position

Remember when Regina storms off and another girl who is actually fat walks past, slams into her velourclad hips and quips, Watch where you’re going fatass, and the whole canteen laughs?

Like the ultimate punishment one can face is getting called a fatass by a fully objective fatass. Like the worst thing one can be in the world is the fattest person in the room.

In Mean Girls Lindsay Lohan sits in the toilet and eats a sandwich which is disgusting
When her friend ethnographically divides the cliques
in the canteen she juxtaposes the girls who eat nothing and the girls who eat their feelings
There is a scene where all the girls compete about their least favourite parts of themselves
One has man-shoulders another huge pores one has bad nail beds
A competition between parts of yourself
No one can win
The apple falls close to the tree
Rotting the whole thing
Cady who does not understand the principle of segmentation of self-obliteration
Who is not ready for her close-up14
Says that her breath stinks in the morning
I wish I could be as unaware of the duty to beauty
But instead my grandest wish hangs pendulous from my tree

The apple falls hard to its knees
The lady snake15 whispered to Eve:
An apple a day will make you skinny


1 ‘BBW’ a term coined by Caroline Shaw, creator of BBW Magazine in 1979, inspires my term, big beautiful female theory — a unified theory I coin to measure the ways in which fatness is condemned on a societal level. It is a method for denaturalising this moralistic code framed in objectivist, scientific language, and coming up with a new language of the body.

2 “Objectification theory posits that girls and women are typically acculturated to internalize an observer’s perspective as a primary view of their physical selves. This… can lead to habitual body monitoring, which, in turn, can increase women’s opportunities for shame and anxiety… accumulations of such experiences may help account for an array of mental health risks that disproportionately affect women: unipolar depression, sexual dysfunction, and eating disorders.” Barbara Frederickson and Tomi-An Roberts, ‘Objectification Theory’, Psychology of Women Quarterly.

3 “In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-belooked- at-ness.” Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.

4 “The fat or adipose tissue is regarded as a voracious parasite that suffocates or even consumes the ‘healthy body’.” Jana Evans Braziel and Kathleen LeBesco, Introduction to Bodies out of Bounds.

5 The abject is the “the me that is not me.” Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection.

6 Abjection is “essentially different from uncanniness, more violent, too, abjection is elaborated through a failure to recognize its kin, nothing is familiar, not even the shadow of a memory.” Kristeva.

7 “The fat body is simultaneously ‘asexual’ and ‘hypersexual’.” Cecilia Hartley, Letting Ourselves Go: Making Room for the Fat Body in Feminist Scholarship.

8 Susie Orbach, Fat is a Feminist Issue.

9 “Fat bodies and fat women’s bodies in particular are represented as a kind of abject that which must be expelled to make all other bodily representations and functions, even life itself, possible.” L’ea Kent, Fighting Abjection: Representing Fat Women.

10 Judith Butler, Why Bodies Matter.

11 “The fat body functions as the abject: it takes us the burden of representing the horror of the body itself for culture at large.” Kent.

12 Mulvey.

13 Sybil Venegas, Connected to the land: The work of Laura Aguilar.

14 “The beauty of the woman as object and screenspace; she is no longer the bearer of guilt but a perfect product, whose body, stylised and fragmented by closeups, is the content of the film, and the direct recipient of the spectator’s look.” Laura Mulvey.

15 Cecilia Flores, “Virgineum vultum habens”: The Woman-Headed Serpent in Art and Literature from 1300 to 1700.

Eloise Grills is an award-winning writer and comics artist, photographer, poet, tutor and memoir editor for Scum Magazine. Her debut comics chapbook, Sexy Female Murderesses, will be published by Glom Press later this year. She tweets and grams as @grillzoid.