FANTAGIRL, I am the woman I am

# 12 Interview with ZUZU

Photography by Maria Clara Macrì

Interview by Giustina Guerrieri

wears Fantabody

Hi ZUZU, we finally make a collaboration together. First of all I ask you to introduce yourself to our readers in case they don’t know you, I ask you a small introductory biography of your life.

Hello Giustina, I’m Giulia but I almost always prefer ZUZU who comes from Giulia -Giu – ZU – ZUZU. I am a 24 year old cartoonist, illustrator and incurable playful person. I am a capricorn with gemini rising, so I want everyone to take me seriously except me. I hardly believe in anything, only in bonds and intuitions. For the moment I live in Bologna.

You are a talented young woman and Cheese, your first graphic novel has received many awards. Can you tell me a little bit about how it was born? And why did you choose to call it Cheese?

Cheese is my first long graphic novel, it was born as a thesis at the IED in Rome, where I attended the illustration course. It emerged from scattered notes collected in the notes of the I-phone, many notebooks, deep wounds, memorable moments and incurable romance. I was a melancholy girl, a sad teenager and now a fragile adult. Despite this, or perhaps in response to this condition of mine, I have always loved life, laughter and small epiphanies with great determination and gluttony. So I wanted to tell this human contradiction at all costs by drawing a story that hurts and makes you smile. “Cheese” was the perfect title, because it is the formula we pronounce before taking a photo, to remember a good time. But also because in this story the three protagonists are preparing for a challenge: participating in the rolling cheese competition. To the curious I suggest to deepen this extreme sport with a quick google search.

Through drawings and words you have told universal themes such as friendship and adolescence, told through that super personal key that is your life. How difficult is it to get naked?

Comics, like any other art form, serves to tell stories. And for me, telling stories means taking a few steps back from yourself, looking out. This operation allows me not to feel any shame, no sense of inadequacy even when I reveal confidential parts of myself. For this reason, getting naked has not cost me much effort, because my story, my life is like my notebooks, nobody will see them, but without it I would have nothing to tell. For almost all my life I have fought with a fact: I am a shameless person, who does not understand the sense of decency, of demeanor, of mystery as an end in itself. Since I allowed myself to admit this truth a knot of pain and frustration has melted away, and I’m happier.

Anorexia is the other great protagonist of the story and being an autobiographical novel, eating disorders have been a parenthesis in your life. Would you like to tell me about that period?

Anorexia and bulimia are subtle diseases because when you become aware of suffering from them it is often too late to simply decide to stop them and feel good. They begin to decide for you and define you, structure you, especially during the early teens. So the process that brings you back to “normal” is often long and troubled, and there is no shortage of relapses. I remember little of that period, the days all looked alike, marked by obscene and self-harming rituals. Fill, empty, weigh, measure, monitor, refill, empty again, lie again, empty, weigh, measure, monitor again and again. I was disgusted with myself, I felt bulky and lousy. I didn’t know who to keep by my side, I just wanted to become light, so light that I no longer felt.

Often eating disorders are underestimated until they have evident and important physical findings. Yet the person who is affected by it carries with it a big psychological and inner load. Do you remember that dichotomy between being and appearing, between inside and outside, at the time of the disturbance, and how has it changed today?

I remember very well, in fact in the comics I chose to tell the inner and outer experience in two parallel stories. That of three friends who try to get away and that of ZUZU’s body, who speaks a language made of erasures, metaphors, synaesthesias. But healing required a lot of courage and willpower, and today I have superpowers. A bell rings every time the outside ignores the inside, every time I have a cruel thought on my body, every time a portion of my skin risks overshadowing all the beauty and grace that I know I carry inside. It is a very tiring exercise to recognize yourself in the mirror and see yourself as a whole. Every emotion, thought, moment of grace has passed through my body, my body is me. I am attractive, I am tender, I am lovable, I am beautiful because my way of being in the world is attractive, tender, lovable and beautiful. My legs carry me around, take me where I am happy, orientate themselves under the table in the direction of the people who are closest to me. How can I, once this discovery is made, look at them as if they were only meat? Measure its circumference and detest its size?

If I felt the need to want you in this project, in addition to your undoubted skills as a cartoonist and creative, it was also because I myself suffered from eating disorders during adolescence, and because we both grew up in the same city, Salerno. What is it like to be a teenager, already a very complicated age in itself, when you suffer from an eating disorder in a provincial reality? Have you ever felt judged, misunderstood?

I don’t know how things would have gone, or maybe I don’t want to think about it, if I hadn’t been lucky enough to be followed by an exceptional nutritionist humanly and professionally. And this nutritionist was in Rome. The big risk of living in a small town is that of not having the right medical support, being surrounded by people and sometimes professionals who underestimate or do not know the disease. Once a gynecologist, examining my state of amenorrhea (lack of menstruation due to the fact that I was underweight) gave me a bitch in front of my mother. She said “you’re killing yourself, you’re a fool.” Often people around me used to say things like “curves are beautiful, you’re getting ugly”. Or “how good you are, you are very thin!”. What we should say to those unfamiliar with eating disorders is that the only way to help is to gratify the person by enhancing his character qualities, his intelligence, his creativity. Putting them in front, even with force, of all the “internal” components that define it, and not the aesthetic ones. But Salerno also made me bored, and out of boredom comes the beauty, the despair of those who want to find something to do at all costs, friendships not of convenience. Without Salerno there would be no Cheese.

How important was the support of your parents and friends?

My parents have done and will always do everything to see me happy. I am the luckiest daughter in the world. They had to struggle against their father and mother instincts, which if they see a hungry daughter they simply want to feed her. Instead they were patient, they suffered, they made mistakes, they believed in me. My friends were very scared and they have not always managed to stay close to me as they would have liked because often those who suffer become isolated, become a bumper and a liar. But as I try to explain in Cheese the solution is always in the bonds, people save our lives. And I have a very long list of people who saved mine and still save it today.

Eating disorder often has to do with control. The ability to control food makes us feel powerful and invincible. Can I ask instead what makes Giulia feel powerful and invincible today?

Create. To dance. A friend who is looking for you because he wants to have a coffee. Wanting to go out and do it. To write. To choose. To love. Launch myself at 120 km per hour from a hill chasing a form of rolling cheese. Look in the mirror without being ashamed of what I see. Ashamed of what I see and then say “fuck”, you’re alive. Choose what to wear with fun. Do the shopping. Go to the sea. To laugh. Being able to say “I’m going to work” and going to the desk and holding paper and colored markers. The list goes on every day

Could we define the drafting of Cheese as a cathartic project to bring out a problem? What advice do you feel to give to those suffering from any psycho-physical disorder, to bring out its drama?

Cheese is almost more cathartic for the reader than it has been for me to do it. I threw it out with joy, enthusiasm, mine and of Coconino editorial staff. When you start to worry less about what other people think about you, fun is guaranteed. For those suffering from psycho-physical disorders, I recommend asking for help. Ask again for help. Ask again. Let’s leave the shame to the cruel people, to those who erect their ego on the rubble of another, to those who take pleasure in depriving others of the freedom to express themselves. Let’s talk and expose ourselves without fear, we are all interesting.

Now that you are no longer a teenager but a young woman how is the relationship with your body and your femininity?

When you asked me to do this interview and to pose for photos I was very happy, because in the last two months I haven’t had the time and will to do physical activity and I have eaten a lot and “badly”. So it was my chance to show that loving and liking yourself doesn’t mean doing it when it’s easy, but always doing it, even when you feel a little less fit than usual. I am proud of my body and always had a peaceful relationship with my nakedness and that of others. For years and years other women have intimidated me, the concept of woman has intimidated me. How do you become a woman? What makes me a woman? What is femininity? It took me over 20 years to understand that nobody can determine what is the right way to be in the world and to feel like a woman or a man. I am Giulia, I am ZUZU, I am not a normal woman, and there is nothing abnormal about this, because there are no normal women. Day by day I decide and find out who I am, how I want to be, what I like, and nobody else can do it for me.

Those who follow you on instagram cannot fail to notice your passion, contagious, for the dance. Moving your body, what feelings does it give you? Do you feel 100 percent present with it?

In a society where you live only with your eyes and head, where every experience is mental, virtual or verbal, dancing means being subversive, it means living with your arms, legs, belly, hips. Dancing is one of the many games that I will never give up, it makes me feel present, but above all it makes me feel. It is like drawing, there is no right way to do it. Dancing gives you the luxury of stopping, even for a moment, from speaking, and instead allows you to start listening.

Frivolous question, but give it to me – Who is your hairstylist?

Alessandro has been my hairdresser since I was 7 years old. Every time I go back to Salerno I make an appointment with him. He once said to me, “When you come here I know I will have fun.” And how to blame him, I’ve changed more hair cuts and colors than shoes.

What do you think of the condition of today’s woman, and above all how do you see this new women’s revolution also started from social media? Do you feel like a woman and as a creative person a greater freedom and desire to show yourself for what you are, breaking the established canons? There is still a lot of head to hit against the wall.

Someone defines me as an anti-feminist because I have a peaceful relationship with my nakedness and I don’t hide it. This accusation comes from a woman. I have to thank the social networks if I know how to respond to those who criticize me like this, because the dialogue that is being established and the pages that provide information on these issues make me a rescue net. The women who do what they want, without fear of judgment, have been and always will be the women who change the world. Every woman, every person who finds the courage to live as she prefers, every woman, every person who chooses happiness and freedom must be defended and protected.

How was posing for Maria Clara? I hope a good synergy has arisen between you.

Maria Clara is an artist full of energy, with a free and wild head. I came home on a train loaded like a spring. Posing for her was a beautiful experience. Accustomed as I am to self-portrait, to self-analysis through drawings, it was liberating for once to let me go, to let myself be told by someone else.

What are you working on now and what are your future plans? Have you ever thought about a Cheese sequel or is it a closed parenthesis?

Cheese will not have a sequel, it will be my first comic book story forever, with its naivety and boldness. I currently have three ambitions. The first is to be able to write another story, despite the pressure I feel on my chest given the success of the first. The second is to open a studio with artists and people I respect, where you can smoke and draw happily. The third is to never hear me say “we pay you in visibility”. Not easy in Italy. But dreams should not be rushed.

What is your wish for yourself, as a woman and as an artist?

To have fun, always. To change course as soon as I stop having fun. To make choices that arise from hope, and not from fear. To fall in love with someone or something every day.

FANTAGIRL

Fantagirl it’s a project devised by brand “Fantabody” founded by Carolina Amoretti in 2015 with the aim of setting nine synergies and interactions among women starting from their native land – Milan.

The photographic project was shot in collaboration with Giustina Guerrieri, a young artist working for the label who had always an interest in voicing real stories whilst exploring the boundaries of femininity.

An ode to the female body, regardless of its shape and skin color. A research that promotes embracing diversity as a starting point for addressing topics such as disability, immigration and sex work, which are approached with an inclusive, curious and prejudice-free attitude.

Portrayed in her seductive uniqueness, every photographed subject has the opportunity to tell her story and reveal her nature with pride.

An all-female collaboration where the protagonists are photographed by the brand’s selected photographers and interviewed in the form of an intimate exchange of anecdotes and experiences.

Among the themes that are explored by the project is the desire to challenge the idea that seems to dictate that a woman affected by an illness or disability shall lose that healthy female vanity that is in every woman.

However, the project also seeks to focus on the choices of those women who use their body as a work instrument in order to understand how the relationship with their intimacy changes. What makes Muslim women feel beautiful? And what is the relationship with their body for Oriental women? The desire to explore the culture, habits and traditions of countries outside the western influence will take the project on a worldwide research.

This is also one of the reasons why “I AM THE WOMAN I AM” sees the involvement of photographers from different nationalities and ethnic group so that they can fully express their artistic sensitivity on the basis of their cultural and social identity.

***

# 11 Interview with ZUZU

Picture of ia Clara Macrì

Interview by Giustina Guerrieri

ZUZU is wearing Fantabody

Hi ZUZU, we finally managed to collaborate together. First of all I ask you to introduce yourself to our readers in case they don’t know you, I ask you a small introductory biography of your life.

I’m Giulia but I almost always prefer ZUZU who comes from Giulia -Giu – ZU – ZUZU. I am a 24 year old cartoonist, illustrator and incurable naughty. I am a twin ascendant capricorn, so i want everyone to take me seriously except me. I hardly believe in anything, only in bonds and intuitions. For the moment I live in Bologna.

You are a talented young woman and Cheese, your first graphic novel has received many awards. Can you tell me a little bit about how it was born? And why did you choose to call it Cheese?

Cheese is my first long comic story, it was born as a thesis at the IED in Rome, illustration course. It emerged from scattered notes collected in the notes of the telephone, many notebooks, deep wounds, memorable moments and incurable romance. I was a melancholy girl, a sad teenager and now a fragile adult. Despite this, or perhaps in response to this condition of mine, I have always loved life, laughter and small epiphanies with great determination and gluttony. So I wanted to tell this human contradiction at all costs by drawing a story that hurts and makes you smile. “Cheese” was the perfect title, because it is the formula we pronounce before taking a photo, to remember a good time. But also because in this comic the three protagonists are preparing for a challenge: participating in the rolling cheese competition. To the curious I suggest to deepen this extreme sport with a quick google search.

Through drawings and words you have told universal themes such as friendship and adolescence, told through that super personal key that is one’s life. How difficult is it to get naked?

Comics, like any other art form, serve to tell stories. And for me, telling stories means taking a few steps back from yourself, looking out. This operation allows me not to feel any shame, no sense of inadequacy even when I reveal confidential parts of myself. For this reason, getting naked has not cost me much effort, because my story, my life is like my notebooks, nobody will see them, but without it I would have nothing to tell. For almost all my life I have fought with a fact: I am a shameless person, who does not understand the sense of modesty, of demeanor, of mystery as an end in itself. Since I allowed myself to admit this truth a knot of pain and frustration has melted away, and I’m happier.

Anorexia is the other great protagonist of the story and being an autobiographical novel, eating disorders have been a parenthesis in your life. Would you like to tell me about that period?

Anorexia and bulimia are subtle diseases because when you become aware of suffering from it, it is often too late to simply decide to stop and feel good. They begin to decide for you and define you, structure you, especially during the early teens. So the process that brings you back to “normal” is often long and troubled, and there is no shortage of relapses. I remember little of that period, the days all looked alike, marked by obscene and self-harming rituals. Fill, empty, weigh, measure, monitor, refill, empty again, lie again, empty, weigh, measure, monitor again and again. I was disgusted with myself, I felt bulky and lousy. I didn’t know who to keep by my side, I just wanted to become light, so light that I no longer felt.

Often eating disorders are underestimated until they have evident and important physical findings. Yet the person who is affected by it carries with it a not indifferent psychological and inner load. Do you remember that dichotomy between being and appearing, between inside and outside, at the time of the disturbance, and how has it changed today?

I remember very well, in fact in the comic book I chose to tell the inner and outer experience in two parallel stories. That of three friends who try to get away and that of ZUZU’s body, who speaks a language made of erasures, metaphors, synaesthesias. But healing required a lot of courage and willpower, and today I have superpowers. A bell rings every time the outside ignores the inside, every time I have a cruel thought on my body, every time a portion of my skin risks overshadowing all the beauty and grace that I know I carry inside. It is a very tiring exercise to recognize yourself in the mirror and see yourself as a whole. Every emotion, thought, moment of grace has passed through my body, my body is me. I am attractive, I am tender, I am lovable, I am beautiful because my way of being in the world is attractive, tender, lovable and beautiful. My legs carry me around, take me where I am happy, orientate themselves under the table in the direction of the people who are closest to me. How can I, once this discovery is made, look at them as if they were only meat? Measure its circumference and detest its size?

If I felt the need to want you in this project, in addition to your undoubted skills as a cartoonist and creative, it was also because I myself suffered from eating disorders during adolescence, and because we both grew up in the same city, Salerno. What is it like to be a teenager, already a very complicated age in itself, when you suffer from an eating disorder in a very often provincial reality? Have you ever felt judged, misunderstood?

I don’t know how things would have gone, or maybe I don’t want to think about it, if I hadn’t been lucky enough to be followed by an exceptional nutritionist humanly and professionally. And this nutritionist was in Rome. The big risk of living in a small town is that of not having the right medical support, being surrounded by people and sometimes professionals who underestimate or do not know the disease. Once a gynecologist, examining my state of amenorrhea (lack of menstruation due to the fact that I was underweight) gave me a bitch in front of my mother. She said “you’re killing yourself, you’re a fool.” Often people around me used to say things like “curves are beautiful, you’re getting ugly”. Or “how good you are, you are very thin!”. What we should say to those unfamiliar with eating disorders is that the only way to help is to gratify the person by enhancing his character qualities, his intelligence, his creativity. Putting them in front, even with force, of all the “internal” components that define it, and not the aesthetic ones. But Salerno also made me bored, and out of boredom comes the beauty, the desperation of those who want to find something to do at all costs, friendships not of convenience. Without Salerno there would be no Cheese …

How much did the support of your parents and loved ones affect you?

My parents have done and will always do everything to see me happy. I am the luckiest daughter in the world. They had to struggle against their father and mother instincts, which if they see a hungry daughter they simply want to feed her. Instead they were patient, they suffered, they made mistakes, they believed in me. My friends and I were very scared and they have not always managed to stay close to me as they would have liked because often those who suffer become isolated become a bumper and a liar. But as I try to explain in Cheese the solution is always in the bonds, people save our lives. And I have a very long list of people who saved it from me and still save it today.

Often the eating disorder has to do with control. The ability to control food makes us feel powerful and invincible. Can I ask instead what makes Giulia feel powerful and invincible, to date?

Create. To dance. A friend who is looking for you because he wants to have a coffee. Wanting to go out and do it. To write. To choose. To love. Launch myself at 120 km per hour from a hill chasing a form of rolling cheese. Look in the mirror without being ashamed of what I see. Ashamed of what I see and then say “fuck”, you’re alive. Choose what to wear lightly. Do the shopping. Go to the sea. To laugh. Being able to say “I’m going to work” and going to the desk and holding paper and colored markers. The list goes on every day …

Could we define the drafting of Cheese as a cathartic project to bring out a problem? What advice do you feel to give to anyone suffering from any psycho-physical disorder, to bring out its drama?

Cheese is almost more cathartic for the reader than it has been for me to do it. I threw it out with joy, enthusiasm, mine and Coconino editorial staff. When you start to worry less about what other people think about you, fun is guaranteed. For those suffering from psycho-physical disorders, I recommend asking for help. Ask again for help. Ask again. Let’s leave the shame to cruel people, to those who erect their ego on the rubble of another, to those who take pleasure in depriving others of the freedom to express themselves. Let’s talk and expose ourselves without fear, we are all interesting.

Now that you are no longer a teenager but a young woman how is the relationship with your body and your femininity?

When you asked me to do this interview and to pose for photos I was very happy, because in the last two months I haven’t had the time and will to do physical activity and I have eaten a lot and “badly”. So it was my chance to show that loving and liking yourself doesn’t mean doing it when it’s easy, but always doing it, even when you feel a little less fit than usual. I am proud of my body and have always had a peaceful relationship with my nakedness and that of others. For years and years other women have intimidated me, the very concept of woman has intimidated me. How do you become a woman? What does a woman make of me? What is femininity? It took me over 20 years to understand that nobody can determine what is the right way to be in the world and to feel like a woman or a man. I am Giulia, I am ZUZU, I am not a normal woman, and there is nothing abnormal about this, because there are no normal women. Day by day I decide and find out who I am, how I want to be, what I like, and nobody else can do it for me.

Those who follow you on instagram cannot fail to notice your passion, contagious and shared as far as I am concerned, for the dance. Moving your body, what feelings does it give you? Do you feel 100 percent present with it?

In a society where you live only with your eyes and head, where every experience is mental, virtual or verbal, dancing means being subversive, it means living with your arms, legs, belly, hips. Dancing is one of the many games that I will never give up, it makes me feel present, but above all it makes me feel. It’s like drawing, there is no right way to do it. Dancing gives you the luxury of stopping, even for a moment, from speaking, and instead allows you to start listening.

Frivolous question, but give it to me – Who is your hairstylist?

Alessandro has been my hairdresser since I was 7 years old. Every time I go back to Salerno I make an appointment with him. He once said to me, “When you come here I know I will have fun.” And how to blame him, I’ve changed more hair cuts and colors than shoes.

What do you think of the condition of today’s woman, and above all how do you see this new women’s revolution also started from social media? Do you feel as a woman and as a creative person a greater freedom and desire to show yourself for what you are, breaking the established canons?

There is still a lot of head to hit against the wall. I was given an anti-feminist because I have a peaceful relationship with my nakedness and I don’t hide it. From a woman. I have to thank the social networks if I know how to respond to those who criticize me like this, because the dialogue that is being established and the pages that provide information on these issues make me a rescue net. The women who do what they want, without fear of judgment, have been and always will be the women who change the world. Every woman, every person who finds the courage to live as she prefers, every woman, every person who chooses happiness and freedom must be defended and protected.

What was it like to pose in front of Maria Clara’s goal for this project? I hope a good synergy has arisen between you.

Maria Clara is an artist full of energy, with a free and wild head. I came home on a train loaded like a spring. Posing for her was a beautiful experience. Accustomed as I am to self-portrait, to self-analysis through drawings, it was liberating for once to let me go, to let myself be told by someone else.

What are you working on now and what are your future plans? Have you ever thought about a Cheese sequel or is it a closed parenthesis?

Cheese will not have a sequel, it will be my first comic book story forever, with its naivety and boldness. I currently have three ambitions. The first is to be able to write another story, despite the pressure I feel on my chest given the success of the first. The second is to open a studio with artists and people whom I respect, with whom to smoke and draw happily. The third is to never hear me say “we pay you in visibility”. Not easy in Italy. But dreams should not be rushed.

What is the wish you give yourself, as a woman and as an artist?

To have fun, always. To change course as soon as I stop having fun. To make choices that arise from hope, and not from fear. To fall in love with someone or something every day.

FANTAGIRL

Fantagirl is a project conceived by the “Fantabody” brand founded by Carolina Amoretti in 2015 with the aim of creating nine synergies and interactions between women starting from the native soil, Milan.

The photographic project is realized in collaboration with Giustina Guerrieri, a young contributor of the brand who has always been interested in giving voice to real stories, exploring the boundaries of femininity.

An ode to the female body, in whatever type of shape and color it may present itself; a research that encourages the acceptance of “diversity” as a starting point to deal with issues such as disability, immigration, sex workers, told with an inclusive, curious and fascinated approach, without prejudice.

Each subject represented in its seductive uniqueness has the opportunity to tell its story and reveal its nature with pride.

An all-female collaboration where the subjects in question are involved by the photographers selected by the brand and interviewed through an intimate exchange of anecdotes and lived experiences.

Among the issues dear to the project, that of denying the idea that a woman victim of an illness or suffering from disability should lose its component of healthy female vanity.

Ma il progetto vuole anche focalizzarsi sulle scelte delle donne il cui corpo diventa strumento di lavoro e capire come cambia il rapporto con la propria intimità.

Cosa fa sentire bella una donna di cultura islamica? E come vive il rapporto con il proprio corpo una donna orientale? Indagare sulla cultura, gli usi e costumi dei paesi lontani dal mondo occidentale è un esigenza che porterà il progetto a una ricerca worldwide.

Anche per questo motivo, “I AM THE WOMAN I AM” vede il coinvolgimento di fotografe appartenenti a diverse etnie, affinché possano esprimere la loro sensibilità artistica in toto, servendosi anche della propria matrice culturale e sociale.

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