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03 February 2007 @ 12:16 am
[Day 3] Body Image  

Last year, rageprufrock wrote about women like the burst-open lips of figs, about how women have worn their history as odalisks and sacrifices and mothers and daughters and victims like jewelry -- she wrote about how despite all of this, we sometimes forget how far we have come, and more importantly how far we have yet to go.

It's 2007 and the third most powerful person in American politics, second in line to take over the presidency, is a woman: Nancy Pelosi -- but half of the coverage she earned after her first State of the Union was about the color and cut of her clothes. Hilary Clinton is a two-term senator of New York and former first lady bracing to run for the Office of the Presidency in 2008 -- and yet people are preoccupied by her gender, by how pretty she might be and how she does her hair, whether or not she got plastic surgery. Women are still being raped and killed in Darfur; the Chinese countryside still has families practicing infanticide despite the country's rapidly skewing sex ratios. Girls are still giving themselves eating disorders comparing themselves to impossible standards of beauty, still acting less intelligent than they really are -- to be non-threatening, to be liked. One in three women will still experience sexual assault in her lifetime. So much has changed and so much has stayed the same.

It's 2007 and women are still odalisks and sacrifices and mothers and daughters and victims -- and we owe ourselves and all other women more than that, we owe ourselves better. We can do more.

V can stand for vagina, like Eve Ensler's groundbreaking monologues. V can stand for violence, under whose auspices all women continue to make a home.

V can also stand for victory.

Body Image

We women have a love/hate relationship with our bodies. We spend billions of dollars on weight loss products, collagen injections, and plastic surgery. Over 90% of those who suffer from bulimia and anorexia are women.

We're too fat, too thin, too tall, too short. Our hair is too coarse or too fine. We get depressed about our weight and lose it just to gain it back. We're told to be an ideal - perfect and beautiful.

We live in a society where our models are airbrushed and ridiculed when they dare to gain weight and look like average women. Our magazines place women in pictures to make them look thinner, smaller, and more dainty compared to the men. 69% of female television characters are thin.

And if that were not enough, we have eight year old girls going on crash diets, companies pushing weight loss pills that can cause heart attacks, and women becoming more and more depressed by the simple fact that they will never look like the newest model on the cover of their favorite magazine or their favorite young actress.

Perhaps then, one of the best things that we as women can do for ourselves is to give ourselves the freedom to be who we are, to embrace our faults, to love our bodies and all the imperfections that come with being human. To that extent, organizations such as AnyBody and About-Face work to educate women and encourage them to decide for themselves what's beautiful.