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Comic about tall women: "I felt like a giantess for a long time"

2022-01-05T19:44:34.455Z

She was never entirely satisfied with her own body: the illustrator Mia Oberländer dealt with her life as a tall woman in a comic - in the end, one of the main characters surpasses himself.



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Page from »Anna«: »Nobody wants to be an inconspicuous normal«

Photo:

Mia Oberländer / Edition Moderne

SPIEGEL:

Ms. Oberländer, your comic is about three Annas: grandmother, mother, daughter.

Numbered Anna 1, 2 and 3, all of whom suffer because they are very tall.

How did you get the idea?

Mia Oberländer:

I get my basic inspiration from my own family.

For us, it was about body size in combination with being thin.

My mother in particular suffered a lot when she was young.

She was often advised to eat more.

In addition, as a woman, born in the sixties, at 180 centimeters, she was considered too tall, somehow too masculine.

She did not feel that she was being protected enough by my grandmother.

That's why my mother tried to do it differently with her children.

My sister and I inherited tall physiques, and our mother has tried to give it positive connotations since we were little.

SPIEGEL:

Did this tactic work?

Oberländer:

Probably not.

At 176 centimeters, I'm not that tall, but I felt like a giant for a long time.

On the one hand I was praised that I had a model figure, on the other hand I was often told that I should rather eat another portion or that if I turned to the side I would not be seen anymore.

I lived with the claim that I was actually lucky because I conformed to the beauty ideal of “thinness” - but I never felt that way.

SPIEGEL:

Your comic Anna 2 is less than ideal. She is rejected because of her outstanding height.

The absurd thing about this rejection is that it happens to her because she is different, even though everyone tries to be special.

Oberländer:

That's right, nobody wants to be an inconspicuous normal.

But it's this eternal conflict, you don't want to attract attention either.

In my childhood and puberty I often felt like I was on a presentation plate.

If there were stupid comments, I tried to laugh at them.

SPIEGEL:

So is humor your coping strategy, so to speak?

Oberländer:

That can be liberating.

In my comic I tried to turn the mean things that happened to me into comedy.

Like the swimming scene in which Anna 2 is told she is too big to swim.

When I failed the starfish badge exam, my teacher said that it was no wonder: I would be so thin that I would not be anatomically able to swim.

That is of course nonsense.

SPIEGEL:

You also illustrate Anna 2's problems with choosing a partner because, as a tall woman, she wants to find an even taller man.

A problem that can still be found in everyday life today.

For example, short men indicate their height in dating apps.

Oberländer:

Role models are anchored in society: the strong, tall man and the delicate, vulnerable woman.

I'm not free from that either and at my school's prom I only chose my dance partner based on his size because I wanted to wear high heels.

I had a boyfriend of about the same size, we were in love, we got along well.

Still, I had the strange thought that I might have to put on ballerinas at our wedding.

It was more about me than the other person.

The point was not that he should be bigger, but that I should be smaller to better fit into a role.

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Oberländer, Mia

Anna

Published by Edition Moderne

Number of pages: 220

Published by Edition Moderne

Number of pages: 220

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SPIEGEL:

In your comic, you show in a brutal and comical way how problems are passed on within a family and even worsen.

Can such dynamics change at all?

Oberländer:

Being tall is a family problem for the Annas in the comic, which is getting bigger from generation to generation: the grandmother was already big, the mother bigger and the youngest Anna is beyond every dimension - she is so big that she towers over the mountain peaks .

But it is she who can break through this pattern by changing perspective.

At the end of the book she looks at things from above.

SPIEGEL:

How is it with you?

Would you no longer make your shoe selection dependent on the height of your dance partner?

Oberländer:

Working on the comic made me understand a lot and identified behaviors in my family and myself, but it would be a lie if I said that I had overcome all fears.

In my family, too, there are still many conflicts that keep cropping up.

I want to use a dispute from last Christmas in my next project.

It was a scene ready for a movie: We were nicely dressed, my sister already had her flute in her hand.

It started with a little something and rocked itself up to a fundamental debate.

My next work will be about arguing.

SPIEGEL:

So are your works an illustrated family therapy?

Oberländer:

Drawing helps me when words are missing.

But I don't force my family into conflicts so that I can continue to tell something.

I sent my father the synopsis of my comic to proofread, a few days later I received a package from my mother with a Christmas stollen and a card that she was looking forward to a peaceful Christmas.

She had underlined three times peacefully.

Source: spiegel

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