Daisy Ruiz, Illustration ’16, has released her first book, “Gordita: Built Like This.” In this illustrated long-form comic, a Chicana Bronx teen is bullied for not being curvy, but is helped by friends and mentors. The plot mirrors the author’s own middle school experiences and offers lots of good advice to victims and to folks who can help. A sequel is already in the works.
Ruiz, known online as Draizys, is founder and creative director of the award-winning compilation zine Deadass Tho NYC. Her illustrations take inspiration from her career trajectory, her East Coast Chicana upbringing, and everyday NYC living.
“The story came out of me growing up as a Mexican-American in the South Bronx,” she says.
“I experienced shame as a child from my family, classmates, and strangers because of my body shape. It took a long time for me to love myself. It’s a journey I’m still on. I want young kids and adults alike to know that we are more than our bodies, and to learn to accept ourselves as we are.”
Gordita’s friends and guidance counselor are central to the sophisticated storyline. They provide different perspectives to Gordita’s lived experiences. Among the characters:
Cassandra is the prettiest girl in the class but she’s shunned by classmates for being curvy and having the boys attention, she’s sexualized at a very early age.
Treasure is gothic and bisexual. She speaks up for her friends but she’s still reduced to being called fat by classmates.
Marie is quiet and shy because of her body odor despite her being a pretty girl.
Miss Payne, a woman in her 30’s, can emphasize with the girls because she was their age once.
Gordita relates to all their stories and realizes that no matter the body shape, some people will always have something off-putting to say.
“I experienced bullying in subtle ways at FIT,” she admits. “But being in the EOP (Equal Opportunity Program), I was able to know people from different majors, so I never felt isolated for being a BIPOC student.”
EOP is a program that acquaints incoming students with navigating FIT in a summer program before college starts. FIT also assigns a counselor to each student for support.
Daisy has an uncommonly long list of people who helped her at FIT. “I’d like to give a shout-out to my professors Eric Velasquez, Kam Mak, William Low, Tony Capparelli, the late Chris Spollen, and Ray Lago for being particularly instrumental professors in my journey to becoming an artist,” she said.
There are two versions of “Gordita,” one with more frank language that could be inappropriate for some youngsters. It is already available in English, with Spanish editions and, as noted, a sequel coming soon.
“Gorditas” will be available shortly in the Gladys Marcus Library. The book can be purchased at Blackjoseipress.com, in person at the Silver Sprocket store in San Francisco, Drawn & Quarterly in Montreal, and Gulf Coast Cosmos Comics in Houston.
To learn more about FIT’s Illustration and Interactive Media major, go to: Illustration at FIT.