Don’t let good be the enemy of great.
That is much easier said than done, especially when it comes to one’s own body. The idea of a “good body” was explored, ridiculed, and dissected in Cushing 001 in this year’s annual performance of The Good Body. This play, which includes a series of monologues written by Eve Ensler, relays the author’s own struggle with the appearance of her stomach, interwoven with other narratives highlighting women’s relationships with their respective figures.
Put on by the Boston College Women’s Center as the culminating event of Love Your Body Week, the performance attempted to synthesize the insidious and outright harmful ways women’s bodies are treated, commodified and viewed by men and women alike. Eve’s reflected on the way her parents, friends, and significant others have influenced her relationship with her body, both positively and negatively.
While most of the scenarios seemed ridiculous to hear, they rang true to the audience based on the laughter and snaps in response, illuminating the impossible paradox of recognizing the foolishness of others’ dissatisfaction with their body and not being able to tell that to oneself. The narratives we tell ourselves on the importance of having a “good body” lead to obsession over exercise, diet, and constant comparison.
One of the last scenes of the show featured Ensler talking to an Indian woman in the gym, who offered perspective on this obsessive, toxic culture of perfection and punishment. She loved exercise, but also loved her body for what it was, and was not exercising to try and change it or make herself skinnier. While this sounds ideal, in a culture pervasive enough to train girls to hate their bodies, uttering the words, “I like my body” is taboo. In fact, it is a form of protest. Negative body image goes further than seeing oneself as “fat” or “skinny.” The Good Body took to describing all forms of this toxic culture, starting from the changes in one’s body through puberty, and how foreign your body can come to feel regardless of the fact that you take residence in it.
While negative body image is a script girls are taught from a young age, The Good Body takes that script and shoves it so blatantly back into the viewer’s face that the neurotic preoccupation women have with their figures cannot be viewed as anything other than absurd. The play is not prescriptive or antidotal, but it is certainly cathartic. Discussing women’s perceptions of their bodies may not change those perceptions immediately, but in Cushing 001 last Friday night, a space was created safe enough for women to shed their insecurities and obsessions—if only for an hour.