The most important issue that was tackled in the Good Body of Eve Ensler was society’s definition of an ideal woman figure. The image of a perfect woman, as depicted by the prevalent norms, in the society should be explored because this issue largely affects how women are treated. To some extent, such subject also affects the overall importance of women based on the societal roles they assume. To be specific, the play touched on the concepts of fatness, sexiness, beauty, perfection, and femininity. As shown in the story, beauty was confined to the image of models and Hollywood stars shown in magazines and posters.
An ideal woman is a woman possessing a sexy body – particularly a flat stomach. The world of the perfect feminine creature was inclusive to women who are sexy or slim. Anyone who did not possess such characteristic was dismissed as a bad, dirty, or foul creature. Moreover, fat girls suffered from discrimination, intolerance, and sometimes, even violence. Some people even regard them as less of a woman – as if the fat girls belonged to an entirely different gender on their own. Their physical appearance was the basis of their social roles, rights, privileges, and opportunities.
In “the Good Body”, gender was shown as a societal concept which is defined on the basis of the prevalent ideas in the society. Being in a certain gender equates to the “responsibility” of possessing the gender qualities or rather – the “gender requirements”. In the case of being a woman, one should possess beauty and sexiness in order to be labeled as “feminine”. What’s worse about this concept of gender and femininity is the fact that women themselves are willing participants of prejudice in the society.
While men prompt women to adhere to the society’s gender requirements, women also force themselves to fit the definitions of beauty and perfection. Women who are suffering from the unfair treatments posed by being fat sometimes thought that they really deserved the discrimination and violence. Most of these victims even hated themselves for being what they are instead of accepting their entirety and loving their body. As a result, their response to discriminations was not of defense – it is a passive acceptance of what was supposedly wrong.
Instead of fighting for what they have, most women fought for what they wanted to have. Women who wanted to fit in a society that was molded by commercialism starved themselves through various slimming regimens. Through the various cosmetic surgeries available these days, many women subject themselves to mutilation. What’s surprising is that this concept of femininity, beauty, and perfection is observed now, at a time when people thought that many societies are practicing equality for all genders – even lesbians, gays, and transsexuals.
In this contemporary setting when almost everyone thinks that women enjoy the same rights and privileges as men, many girls unknowingly submit themselves to inequality. As shown in the performance, women were defined and treated according to how they look and how well they fit into the society’s popular idea of an ideal woman. It seems that gender was now a tool for inequality and majority of the world’s population cannot recognize this discrimination propelled by commercialism.
Courtney from Study Moose
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