“The Adventures of Stretch Mark Susie vs. Boob Job Bambi and Collagen Cathy”

Sue Lemmo


Materials: commercial fabrics, acrylic paint, Shiva oil stick, hand dyed wool


I understand that I work in a very intuitive manner. Sometimes my initial idea veers into a totally new direction and I have learned to just follow along and see where the path leads me. It was this way with my piece for the “Weird Quilts Challenge”. My first idea involved flashbulbs, as in used and discarded flash bulbs.

However, as that idea was germinating I took my thirteen year old daughter shopping at the mall. While standing in line to make a purchase, she noticed some fashion dolls on display near the register. In a rather off hand way she remarked, “That doll looks like it has had some work done. She is a little scary.” At thirteen, my daughter has a better understanding of the body image problems that women in her society face than many adult women do. We immediately started coming up with names for a new line of fashion dolls; “Botox Bambi”, “Collagen Cathy”, “Liposuction Linda”, etc. (Too bad the woman standing in line behind us didn't find this game as amusing as we did).

And so was born, “The Adventures of Stretch Mark Susie vs. Boob Job Bambi and Collagen Cathy”. I want my daughters to see that they do not have to follow an artificial construct of beauty to be beautiful. True beauty comes from understanding oneself, accepting oneself, and celebrating one's gifts. My own body resembles that of my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother; it is rather short and round. It is imperfect in many ways. But several years ago I stood in front of a painting at the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago and had an epiphany. I recognized my bare behind in a four hundred year old painting. On that day, I came to the conclusion that my rear end is the ideal of beauty for Renaissance Italy. I made peace with my body that afternoon.

It is very sad to me that an idea as basic as being comfortable in one's own body, would be considered “weird”, but unfortunately for many women it is just that. To anyone who feels that way, I send Stretch Mark Susie to the rescue!