Watching Me

Julie, a user experience designer based in New York. I love to be a detective, to understand life and people's interests, their culture, their struggles, then blend what I discovered to create experience & environments that enhance everyday lives.
Thesis Faculty
Chris Romero;
Ethan Silverman;
Aya Karpinska;
Louisa Campbell

The first planet is about thin culture and body shame. When the character feels unsatisfied looking at herself in the mirror, her reflection starts to tell her “you’re not perfect”, the words she has received repeat in her brain. She is being trapped in the “thin culture” and freaked out by her reflection in the mirror.

The brain in the mirror is transferring the power of negative comments to her, which let her be blamed by both herself and the social impact. I added the “no”, “stop” in the background music of this planet, to let the viewers feel the inner struggle she has.

The second planet is about sociocultural factors and compensatory vomiting. This interviewee told me that she felt uncomfortable when she heard the sound of the vent and toilet flushing because she used to hide in the restrooms and switch on the vent or keep flushing the toilet so people won’t know someone was vomiting inside.

She has hidden in a lot of restrooms and these sounds become a trigger of her nightmares.

On this planet, the vents become the walls that trap the character in. She has to switch between the normal usage of vents and toilets and using them as a cover. The abstract shape demonstrates her self-confession, when she tried to be brave to talk about this, the possibilities that she might be recognized as “abnormal” would persuade her. The transition of materials and lights describes her different stages of being brave and her self-reflection. The vents are not only the obstacles but also her protector.

The third planet is about binge eating and guilt. A lot of times, my interviewee doesn’t realize that she was eating at a binge pace and amount, which is a common phenomenon for the group with bulimia. However, after consuming a large amount of food, they will retreat into deep fear and self-reproach. The comparison between the unconscious joy of eating and the guiltiness after realizing the relapse of binge eating makes them give up.

I transferred this abandonment into a homogenization of food. I started this animation with an explosion of cookies, a sugary snack that meets the requirement of binge eating. The character was born from the explosion of the cookie and being wrapped into the same package to be a part of the cookie again. The flower-looking at the explosion highlights the joy of unconscious binge eating, while the action of wrapping is a symbol of their abandonment. I extended the sound of paper in the background music so viewers can know the character is still struggling out of sight.

The fourth planet is about the relationship with family. One of my interviewees grew up in a healthy and caring family. However, her family viewed a good body shape as a sign of being well taken care of by family.

A lot of times, when she tried to talk about the diet with her family, she felt an invisible heavy pressure. She was supposed to be a person with self-discipline, but not bulimia nervosa. She’s still acting well in the family activities while looking for more personal space to struggle between a good daughter and a normal person with bulimia nervosa.

I put her character into a drop of a floating cell, to show her well-protection by family because every baby needs nourishing liquid before they grow up. But when the character wants to get rid of the family protection and face the family with a real her, the dropping liquid splashes back to the character and surrounds her again. The soft but undoubted power builds the vicious cycle that the character can’t get rid of.