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Dikke Dames Through the Brush of Julia Woning


Julia Woning: Love

If you have been following my blog lately, you know that in honor of Love Your Body Day, October 14th, I have been focusing on the fat/size acceptance movement in Europe and introducing you to some Dutch artists that I learned about when I was in Holland over the summer.  I have a good friend in Amsterdam who graciously offered to help me with translation. During one of our email exchanges I asked Chiel why he thought there were so many Dutch painters who created such beautiful big women in their artwork?  His response was,


“Probably because every Dutch person around my age grew up with a children’s show called, De Drie Dikke Dames (The Three Big Ladies)  A Sunday morning children’s show hosted by three big ladies.”


  3 Big Ladies

Dutch TV Show: 3 Big Ladies

I trepidatiously checked it out and although i was only able to watch a few of the shows, it was clear that my fears were NOT validated!  This was not a show lampooning 3 fat ladies or putting them in humiliating fat shaming situations.  Now we know that Correlation is NOT Causation so there is no way to know if the 3 Fat Ladies impacted young artists (perhaps a follow up question for Susan Ruiter, etal) but I loved Chiel’s hypothesis and wanted to share it with you.  I would also like to share the artwork of Julia Woning who is a painter and a sculptor with a collection entitled Dikke Dames (Big Girls).  I asked Ms Woning the same questions that I asked Susan Ruiter and here is what Julia had to say.



Meet Dutch Artist, Julia Woning

Meet Dutch Artist, Julia Woning

Dr. Deah:  When did you realize that art was important to you as a means of expression.  Was there a specific “aha” moment; or was it a gradual process?

Julia Woning:  It was a gradual process. When I was 17 I had to choose a school. I chose a school to become a nurse. After a year i figured it wasn’t the school for me. After that I decided to go to the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam to become an illustrator.

DD:  The art work you do is so beautiful, who were some artists who influenced your style?

JW:  I am a great fan of Picasso but Rubens is the master in painting bigger sized women.

DD:  The shapes and sizes of the women you paint are big and beautiful and feel very positive. Has the subject of body acceptance or size acceptance been a part of your work intentionally?

JW:  Yes, but not intentionally. I love the round forms of the body and the bigger shapes give me more space to paint patterns and give the paintings more texture, I like it when my paintings have a lot of texture.

DD:  Why do you choose to do paintings of big curvy women?

JW:  Because of the space i have when I paint bigger women, also because i really like the look of the figures, the idea behind them is that they are always happy and joyful.

Music by Julia Woning

Music by Julia Woning

DD:  Do you have any opinions about how the media depicts women’s bodies?

JW:  Yes, In the media there has to be more variation than a size 0.  In magazines, advertisements, television shows, and movies diversity is a must. Everybody is beautiful in their own way ( in their own size).

DD:  Do you think that Holland has a more accepting attitude towards diversity of body size for women than The United States?

JW:  No, I think that some people, wherever they live, will always have a rude opinion about bigger sized people. The people that do have a negative opinion are the ones that have to change their attitude. But nobody has a problem with big women in art, at all.

DD:  Where can people find out more about your work?

JW:  My English website

DD:  Do you have any questions for me or anything else you would like to add?

JW:  My big women don’t have any faces.  This is because i want them to be anonymous. Its about the atmosphrere and the impression they make, they’re not cartoon figures.


Chocolate Cake

I hope you enjoyed meeting Julia Woning!  I find her paintings whimsical and joyful and am hoping to visit her gallery next year!! Do you have any artists, musicians, or writers that embody size positivity in their work?  Please let us know! In the upcoming weeks I will be sharing the works of several other Dutch artists and two activists from the UK!




Til next time,


Dr. Deah






I will be presenting along with: Sonya Renee Taylor, Performance Poet
- Keynote on Weight Stigma by Dr. Deb Burgard
- Diverse Experiences of Weight Stigma: A Panel moderated by Jessica Wilson
- Expressive Arts Activities led by Dr. Deah Schwartz
- Embodiment Explorations facilitated by Fall Ferguson
- A Fat Flash Mob Experience with Juicy D. Light


Location: James C. Irvine Foundation Conference Center, 353 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612  *Registration deadline: Monday, Oct. 20, 2014*


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