Good Bodyby Eve Ensler
Botox, bulimia, breast implants: Eve Ensler, author of the international sensation The Vagina Monologues, is back, this time to rock our view of what it means to have a “good body.” “In the 1950s,” Eve writes, girls were “pretty, perky. They had a blond Clairol wave in their hair. They wore girdles and waist-pinchers. . . ./i>
Botox, bulimia, breast implants: Eve Ensler, author of the international sensation The Vagina Monologues, is back, this time to rock our view of what it means to have a “good body.” “In the 1950s,” Eve writes, girls were “pretty, perky. They had a blond Clairol wave in their hair. They wore girdles and waist-pinchers. . . . In recent years good girls join the army. They climb the corporate ladder. They go to the gym. . . . They wear painful pointy shoes. They don’t eat too much. They . . . don’t eat at all. They stay perfect. They stay thin. I could never be good.”
The Good Body starts with Eve’s tortured relationship with her own “post-forties” stomach and her skirmishes with everything from Ab Rollers to fad diets and fascistic trainers in an attempt get the “flabby badness” out. As Eve hungrily seeks self-acceptance, she is joined by the voices of women from L.A. to Kabul, whose obsessions are also laid bare: A young Latina candidly critiques her humiliating “spread,” a stubborn layer of fat that she calls “a second pair of thighs.” The wife of a plastic surgeon recounts being systematically reconstructed–inch by inch–by her “perfectionist” husband. An aging magazine executive, still haunted by her mother’s long-ago criticism, describes her desperate pursuit of youth as she relentlessly does sit-ups.
Along the way, Eve also introduces us to women who have found a hard-won peace with their bodies: an African mother who celebrates each individual body as signs of nature’s diversity; an Indian woman who transcends “treadmill mania” and delights in her plump cheeks and curves; and a veiled Afghani woman who is willing to risk imprisonment for a taste of ice cream. These are just a few of the inspiring stories woven through Eve’s global journey from obsession to enlightenment. Ultimately, these monologues become a personal wake-up call from Eve to love the “good bodies” we inhabit.
“Eve Ensler can soar to Rabelaisian heights or move us with quiet compassion. . . . She may not save the world, but what other playwrights even think of trying?”
Acclaim for The Vagina Monologues
“Spellbinding, funny, and almost unbearably moving . . . It is both a work of art and an incisive piece of cultural history, a poem and a polemic, a performance and a balm and a benediction.”
“The monologues are part of Eve Ensler’s crusade to wipe out the shame and embarrassment that many women still associate with their bodies or their sexuality. [They] are both a celebration of women’s sexuality and a condemnation of its violation.”
–The New York Times
“Women have entrusted Eve with their most intimate experiences. . . . I think readers, men as well as women, will emerge from these pages feeling more free within themselves–and about each other.”
- Random House Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt
When I was a little girl people used to ask me, What do you want to be when you grow up? Good, I would say. I want to be good. Becoming good was harder than becoming a doctor or an astronaut or a lifeguard. There are tests to pass to become those things–you have to learn dissection or conquer gravity or practice treading water.
Becoming good was not like that. It was abstract. It felt completely out of reach. It became the only thing that mattered to me. If I could be good, everything would be all right. I would fit in. I would be popular. I would skip death and go straight to heaven. If you asked me now what this means, to be good, I still don’t know exactly.
When I was growing up in the fifties, “good” was simply what girls were supposed to be. They were good. They were pretty, perky. They had a blond Clairol wave in their hair. They wore girdles and waist cinchers and pumps. They got married. They looked married.
They waited to be given permission. They kept their legs together, even during sex.
In recent years, good girls join the Army. They climb the corporate ladder. They go to the gym. They accessorize. They wear pointy, painful shoes. They wear lipstick if they’re lesbians; they wear lipstick if they’re not. They don’t eat too much. They don’t eat at all. They stay perfect. They stay thin. I could never be good.
This feeling of badness lives in every part of my being. Call it anxiety or despair. Call it guilt or shame. It occupies me everywhere. The older, seemingly clearer and wiser I get, the more devious, globalized, and terrorist the badness becomes. I think for many of us–well, for most of us–well, maybe for all of us–there is one particular part of our body where the badness manifests itself, our thighs, our butt, our breasts, our hair, our nose, our little toe. You know what I’m talking about?
It doesn’t matter where I’ve been in the world, whether it’s Tehran where women are–smashing and remodeling their noses to looks less Iranian, or in Beijing where they are breaking their legs and adding bone to be taller, or in Dallas where they are surgically whittling their feet in order to fit into Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.
Everywhere, the women I meet generally hate one particular part of their bodies. They spend most of their lives fixing it, shrinking it. They have medicine cabinets with products devoted to transforming it. They have closets full of clothes that cover or enhance it. It’s as if they’ve been given their own little country called their body, which they get to tyrannize, clean up, or control while they lose all sight of the world.
What I can’t believe is that someone like me, a radical feminist for nearly thirty years, could spend this much time thinking about my stomach. It has become my tormentor, my distracter; it’s my most serious committed relationship. It has protruded through my clothes, my confidence, and my ability to work. I’ve tried to sedate it, educate it, embrace it, and most of all, erase it.
From the Hardcover edition.
Meet the Author
EVE ENSLER is an internationally acclaimed playwright whose many works for the stage include Floating Rhonda and the Glue Man, Lemonade, Necessary Targets, and The Vagina Monologues, for which she received an Obie Award. Performances of The Vagina Monologues, sponsored by V-Day (www.vday.org), have raised $25 million to stop violence against abused women and girls around the world. She lives in New York City.
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This book is really an anecdotal exploration of the kind of relationships - both positive and negative - women have with their own physical bodies. The stories retold by Eve Ensler in this book are both shocking and humorous. The stories are very poignant and as always Ensler focuses on the theme of how women relate to their bodies. The entire book is an easy but enjoyable read. I finished it in about an hour.
This book is great to get women (and men) thinking about body image and the common thread that seems to exist among many women when they think about their bodies. Nearly every single woman has something that she hates about her body and in this book, I started to ask myself why. Eve interviews women around the world, including a woman from Africa who talks about loving her body. This seems like a foreign concept to Eve (in the book) and to me! Get this book if you want to feel better about your body and realize how many women are in your same position!