Summer’s Puke is Winter’s Delight – A creative feminist Perspective
- June 23, 2021
I have to lose weight. I‘m ugly. I’m fat. No one loves me. No one would ever love me looking like that. Why does It have to be me? Is it punishment? I need to change it. I need to lose weight. I need to look good. I need to be happy. I need to be worthy. I need to be loved.
This. This is a mirror of thoughts the majority of teenagers and young adults, especially girls have experienced at some point in their life due to the societal pressure that idealizes slim bodies. Almost every 10th person suffers from an eating disorder, one of them, bulimia.
“Summer’s Puke is Winter’s Delight” is a music video that was animated by Japanese artist Sawako Kabuki who is known for her absurd colorful art style. It depicts a female character suffering from bulimia with really layered themes. It is about the obsession with idealizations of that which is perceived to be feminine and beautiful. It is about forcefully changing and damaging yourself to be accepted by men. Watching the video for the first time, I focused less on the themes and more on the disturbing but vivid and colorful imagery, the sexual content but above all, the persistent feeling of discomfort the video evoked in me. From the vomiting sound as a starting point up to the objectification of the protagonist’s body, her deterioration and her struggle to lose more weight.
She is not only physically tired of puking, her body also exemplifies her mental exhaustion for being pressured to undergo this pain in order to be content or rather to seek the illusion that she would become content. Her face (as a symbol of her personality) disappears and up comes a sexually enthusiastic version of herself. The depiction of sexual acts consists mainly of vaginal and oral sex which enhance the image of her being used by her partner for his pleasure. This impression is underlined and portrayed even more expressive by the quick change of sequences between her head and her vagina and even the merging of her face and her butt which exemplifies that her partner only perceives her as a piece of flesh rather than a person with a body. The sequence of him pinching her belly is directly followed by her pinching her belly in her room and the immense expansion of her body which is the perfect metaphor for the distorted body image people with eating disorders have.
When she steps on the scale, she faces her distorted body image which then pushes its hand down her throat indicating the trigger for her self-hate and will to continue walking down the spiral of weight loss and to do what she’s familiar with the most, vomiting in her bathroom. In the end, she loses everything until the scale shows 0 kg which I interpret as her reaching her absolute physical and mental limit but also as the loss of her will to act independently since she sacrificed everything she had in order to be liked by someone who did not genuinely care about her which becomes even clearer when he leaves her because he is not attracted to her anymore (revealed by his inability to be erect when they’re together) just to find his new partner or rather his new fuck toy.
What is interesting about the ending is that the woman he has sex with is depicted by the same figure that formerly represented a pink fat version of her own body. There are two interpretations I immediately thought of, the first one being: He suddenly has sex with someone who is bigger because he got bored by the physicality of the protagonist’s extremely thin body. The second one and to me more convincing one being: the character is presented that way because the protagonist does not only have a distorted perception of her own body but of every normal female body and perceives her as bigger than she actually is, especially considering her own beauty standards. I think the latter one is more powerful because it shows us how the toxic idealization does not only harm the character herself but also negatively influences the way she perceives other women. It makes this atrocious cycle appear inescapable on a societal level.
Then we got frustrated faces, alcohol, another cycle of puking, weight loss and gain which is completed excellently with the image of the white cat creature we started with and one thing which probably confuses me the most: a smile. Due to the sinister background colors and the general themes, it might be intentionally misleading, not genuine and probably a lot of wishful thinking on my part but since I want to see the improvement of the character’s health, it might be a hint to her being able to be happy again and free herself from the problematic perception of her own body and her self-esteem and finally becoming happy. Maybe.
I never had an eating disorder but I vividly remember having sequences in which I wanted to lose weight and tried to secretly fast when I was around 12 or 13 which now almost sounds ridiculous but even more, disturbing. And I was not a particular case, girls my age in my environment constantly talked about their weight, body hair and other “flaws” which had to be taken care of. Growing up in an era in which even little girls were bombarded with artificially perfect body images in media and commercials, being glued to TV screens presenting the newest episode of talent or top model shows, continuously presenting bodies. Not any bodies, bodies of women in the seemingly greatest shape you are dreaming of. I am 24 years old now and I’m definitely in a mentally stable enough state to not fall into the trap of physically and mentally harming myself in order to reach a specific idealized beauty standard. Nevertheless, that does not mean that the existence and the omnipresence of said beauty standards do not partially affect me subconsciously and I think it works similar for many others as well.
I love this short video because it simultaneously made me feel uncomfortable and fascinated. The contrast between the fast paced animation, colorful trippy style, disturbing anthropomorphic creatures and puking scenes and especially puking sounds is original to say the least and caught my attention immediately. It’s clear that we still have a long way to go concerning mental health and sex education and raising awareness about topics most people would rather not talk about. This short little video was so refreshing in the way it depicts the struggles of eating disorders, the objectification of women, toxic relationships and body images and a seemingly small but a great and a needed step in making relevant topics visible in every little corner of the art sphere.