Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Good Body

My life is not all astronomy.

Last night, I went to see The Good Body with a friend. The Good Body is Eve Ensler's new one-woman show, which just opened at A.C.T. here in San Francisco. Eve Ensler is best known for The Vagina Monologues, a funny, provocative (duh!), and at times very moving compilation of monologues that she wrote after interviewing hundreds of women about their vaginas. No, it's not pornographic. Yes, I am a feminist, in case you hadn't figured that out already.

It was terrific to see Ensler perform her own work, and I'm very glad I went to see her new play, but unfortunately it doesn't cover much new territory. It's about the relationship between women and their bodies - especially Ensler and her stomach, which she believes is fat. She explores women's body obsessions and how they connect to pop culture and our relationships with our mothers, fathers, and lovers. She's at her best when she embodies other women and tells their stories; in one of my favorite monologues, she becomes Carmen, who exorcises her "spread" as she exorcises her mother's criticism of her body. Another really disturbing monologue is about a (supposedly real) clinic in Hollywood where women go to get their vaginas tightened. Ewww! Ensler's own stomach-obsession gets a bit tiresome as the play goes on. While hilarious, some of the characters she depicts are "types" rather than individuals. Finally, Ensler leaves North America and heads East, where, like John Lennon and so many others, she finds enlightenment. While it's often true that visiting another culture with different values or a place where people cannot take material comfort for granted can often lead to introspection and changes in attitude, this is such a cliched plot development!

Ultimately, although the show was engaging, it felt like something I'd seen and heard before, which was disappointing.

As we left, my friend and I talked about our own comfort levels with our bodies. My initial reaction was that although I occasionally obsess over some aspect of my weight or appearance, I think I have it in perspective. My friend agreed with me... but then pointed out that we are both very thin women with lots of insecurities about this or that. Would we still have body image in perspective if we were fatter? Do we have other body image issues - that don't have to do with weight - in perspective?

1 Comments:

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