The Good Body by Eve Ensler

I picked up my first Oprah magazine in about, oh, three years. Not that I've been boycotting Oprah, heaven forbid (!), just trying to keep to a budget. Well, this time I couldn't resist...Oprah looked esp. cute on the cover and I was intrigued by some of the headings: The Good Body. What was this about? I was pleasantly surprised to read a great article by Eve Ensler's new play, "The Good Body". I am so excited about this because the philosophy is just what I've thought about my peers and esp. about women.

The play, from what I've read, shows how we've been force feed a lot of junk about our body image and how we should be perfect (whatever that might mean). I've always felt like body perfection is a bunch of bull and Ensler performs exactly what always annoys me about mass media. Basically, you've got massive corporations going around telling us and our kids that we are not made in God's image or what have you but are a bunch of uglies with serious needs for some anti-ugly pills/surgery/diets/etc. This is wrong and not to mention very shallow.

Ensler talks about how "...body hatred has been defined as a personal problem. But it is a social problem, a political problem, a cultural problem. It is not accidental or incidental. It is induced, injected, and programmed. We Americans like to tell ourselves we are free, but we are imprisoned. We are controlled by a corporate media that decrees what we should look like and then determines what we have to buy in order to get and keep that look. …

The antidote to body hatred is social activism and community. None of us alone is strong enough to stand up to the daily onslaught of propaganda, imagery, programming, seduction, and mind control. … It requires a movement."

I was especially intrigued by the last many people have I heard and seen just want to remove themselves from society because they feel they aren't worthy because of how they look? This mentality makes me angry because so many people buy into this propaganda. A few years ago, I had some friends and their grandparents would call them names, make fun of them for being chubby. They'd say things like why don't you look like this person (some blonde, skinny model).

I don't blame the grandparents, not too much anyway. They've been watching more TV then they should be and getting lots of cheap news rags with "scopes" on the stars...and then take that mis-information and apply it to their grandchildren!

I also had a friend when I was in California. Her niece was dark skinned and had very dark hair on her arms and legs at only eight years old. The child didn't really know she was a bit hairy until she looked at teen magazines and kids at school teased her. When I met *Sarah*, she was underweight and in therapy. Her parents were trying to help her see she was normal but Sarah was already showing compulsive symptoms linked to her feelings of isolation and teasing. I don't know what happened to Sarah but when I was with her (and I had the inside knowledge from my friend) I didn't even see her arms. What I could see were her eyes and how she was so hurt.

I hope she was able to make a change and not get hung up on her body image. I hope I can be like that too...

My other friend with the grandparents, she's learned to talk to them (even if they say it's back talking) and to say don't say that to me. We chat and shake our heads at the ignorance of people, offering each other support.

I feel media is the main culprit of why I felt insecure about myself, as a young women. When I was in my mid-twenties, I reduced watching TV to something like 10 hours a week. When I had my first daughter, I turned it off completely...I didn't have the time and just was happy to be with my daughter. Now, I watch it in short bursts and it plays kid stuff primarily.
I noticed a huge change in my feelings of self. I started seeing more of the world...animals, plants, people, my neighborhood and seeing what I could do to help. I also started to see how reading too much news effects me emotionally and how important it is to allow your self true quiet time. No music, radio, or distractions. Just quiet time to think and dream up plans. I think a lot of people feel this way. We want to do something but are distracted by so many other things from news to TV programs. How do we resist this? Ensler says it's through support groups and activism that we can shake this coporate bondage and I agree. I'd also add it's not just found in women, but in men as well...this feeling of not being good enough.

As for my body, I am tall, heavy and strong. My body gave me two beautiful daughters, has lifted 1000's of pounds over the years, helps me create pretty darn good art work, reach for stuff on high shelves without a problem, helps me hold two kids at once and countless other things. I don't look like a super model but I know I'm pretty super, anyway. I don't need TV or magazines to say I have to be a certain weight or color or height. I'm me...stretch marks and all.

I think exercising, eating smart, doing volunteer work and making friends is one of the best ways to forget about not having a tan like the photo manipulated models have or whatever else models are trying to sell us. Let's just say, I'm glad I picked up this last Oprah mag. It confirms a lot of what I already felt was true.

Interestingly, in my search of good Oprah/Ensler quotes I found a great new blog!Actually, two...this one's quite funny.

*name changed


Beth said…
Emily, thanks for the kind words! And I'm glad you visited. I'm adding your blog to my rotation too.

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