My favorite play is Eve Ensler’s The Good Body. Specifically a 1-woman show, The Good Body explores the insane ideas we woman have about what is the ideal body and the lengths we go to create it. I saw it last January, right after resolving to lose weight in 2006 and I’ve noticed that slowly over the past year I have changed the way I see myself. I’m certain it was this show that created the shift in my thinking.
The play was inspired by Ensler’s own personal body image issues. Here was a woman that had brought the vagina into the 21st century, empowering woman all over the globe, yet hated her stomach. It was as if all the angst she had about her vagina had moved north and was resting inside her abdominal muscles or lack thereof. So as Ensler does so well, she explored this phenomenon, our hatred with ourselves…
“The one thing that really struck me on this particular journey and piece was how dangerously distracted woman have become…One of the main reasons I’m doing this tour of this show is so that women really begin to redirect their attention, their power, their energy towards fixing the world rather than fixing something which isn’t broken called our bodies.”
~ Eve Ensler
Ensler’s show was of course, funny and thought provoking. The most important message I took from the stage was the idea that perhaps it is no coincidence that society wants women to be thin. If thin equals good (which is what we’re told with every diet book, billboard ad, post Oscar fashion police show and tabloid magazine) then “it’s really about making women disappear, becoming lesser and lesser versions of herself”.
As society becomes larger and larger, the ideal woman becomes smaller and smaller. Pretty soon she’ll be a minus size. Imagine that. Minus clothes for minus woman that you can buy in minus stores. Teenage girls that are striving to be a zero will abandon that and (fingers crossed!) strive instead to be a negative. I wonder, what does that do on an energetic level to have millions of girls trying to be less than zero?
But here’s the rub. Hasn’t anyone told Hollywood that this emaciated look doesn’t really do it for anyone? I mean if I look at you and think about old Holocaust documentaries I’ve watched – That’s not sexy! If a man can count your ribs I don’t think that makes him want to sleep with you. If I can fit you in my pocketbook along with my miniature chihuahua I’m not going to take you very seriously.
Personally I think the average woman doesn’t give a shit about being a size zero. But I do believe that because she can’t fucking see herself anywhere she looks, there’s a part of her that thinks she just isn’t good enough. She believes that she must reduce herself to be better, accepted, or even normal. Ensler is right. This preoccupation with shrinking, toning, waxing, plucking, erasing, tightening, and lightening ourselves – it’s no wonder the world is in the state it’s in.
It’s almost February. You’re either totally obsessed with your resolutions or have abandoned them completely. Therefore I humbly suggest that you find some middle ground. Stop trying to have a good body and instead try to be a great person. Do great things. Achieve great heights in life. If you put your passions into your work and play and shift your focus from your thighs, perhaps your thighs would take care of themselves.
Your body isn’t good or bad. It just is. It’s time you learned that. It’s time you taught that to your daughters.
Unfortunately, The Good Body Tour ended in 2006, but if you struggle to have a “good” body you can buy the book and vow to make 2007 the year you reclaim your body and your sanity.
“So here’s what I think I’ve learned so far: In order to be good, I’ve got to be a smiling psychopath, deprived of pretzels, deeply involved with a Nazi trainer, fortunately numb from the botulinum, white vanilla fat sucked out with rods, and my pussy tightened. I would be sucking, spending, scrubbing, shaving, pumping, piercing, perming, cutting, covering, lightening, tightening, ironing, lifting, hammering, flattening, waxing, whittling, starving, and ultimately vanishing.
I need to stop.
I need to breathe.
I need to be here.
I want to be able to do my work.
I really don’t want to disappear.”
~Eve Ensler, The Good Body, Pg. 70