Who Are You Calling Fat? Eating Disordered Thinking in Jenny Saville’s Plan and Propped

  • Brittany Lockard Wichita State University


Jenny Saville’s early paintings of fat, female nudes, as exemplified by Plan (1993) and Propped (1992) achieved an almost instant notoriety, in part due to the openly feminist intentions Saville claimed for her otherwise traditional subject matter. Critics tend to either laud the works as celebrations of fatness or provide feminist readings of the nudes as troubling societal body standards. However, none of these authors question that the women depicted are fat. I argue that critics conflate size and scale in these paintings, demonstrating their absorption of society’s increasingly stringent beauty norms. The paintings also reveal Saville’s own ambivalent attitude toward fatness, as well as contemporary anxiety about the fat body.