Body Drama

I want so badly to love Body Drama - the book, not the actual thing itself. It's about high time someone made a book celebrating girls' real bodies and showcasing the range of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures they come in. I love that it's full of photographs and frank talk about all the weird and interesting things normal bodies do. I love that it discusses what isn't normal (BV, STIs) without moralizing or sliding into the ick-gross trap too often, and that it offers great advice for dealing with your period and keeping healthy.

But there are a few things I don't like about the book, and they really stand out to me because on all the other points, it's spot on.

First of all, despite its lip service to celebrating our unique and awesome bodies, the book is chock full of body care and beauty tips designed to help you take your awesome uniqueness and make it look, you know, better . . . more ummmm, normal? What the hell? Don't come out swinging, shouting body love and acceptance from the rooftops, then spend every other page reinforcing the beauty status quo. That ideal image you're self-tanning, plucking, waxing, squishing, pushing up and out, coloring, straightening, and painting to achieve . . . it ain't real! And you should know that, Body Drama!

Then it gets a little fat-phobic on you. Body Drama equates being overweight with being unhealthy again and again, but the two are not interchangeable. There are plenty of thin folks who are terribly unhealthy and plenty of chubsters (like myself) who are not. Poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle are unhealthy, but they don't, necessarily = overweight, as healthy eating habits and exercise do not = thin. I know that it's possible to be overweight and healthy. So do plenty of other people (scientists and doctors, even!) Like the good folks at Healthy at Every Size. I know that overweight people can live longer and have better survival rates for cardiac events, I know that fat can help protect against many diseases, I know that thin=/=healthy and overweight =/=unhealthy, I know that dieting can make you sick (really sick). I know that the BMI scale is crap. If I know all of this, why doesn't Body Drama? Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for everyone getting fit and healthy, by all means . . . and I commend Body Drama for a great section on nutrition . . . but fit does not equal trim, it equals fit, it equals the ability to perform certain physical tasks. And a sense of self confidence and self worth that comes from having, specifically, lost weight and from the compliments of others is bound to crumble. Again, Body Drama is paying lip service to love and acceptance, while reminding us that we could look better . . . compliment-worthy, even.

The third way Body Drama disappoints me (deeply, painfully) is in its coverage of sexy, sexy sex. Or lack thereof. Yes, there's a great section on contraception that even includes tubal ligation (woot!) and good info on STIs, but no information about your body and sex. Nothing to prepare a girl for what might happen and the ways her body will react to getting hot and heavy (hello vaginal secretions!). Nothing on masturbation, either. Seems to me that sex is a major source of body drama (amiright, Ms. Cho (2:10)? Seriously, after the sex bit, she discusses body issues, dieting, and eating disorders with such grace and humor.)

Body Drama just told me I'm cool the way I am but: really, I could look a lot better, I'm fat and therefore unhealthy, and I might be a slut. Sheesh! I'm going to go crawl into my closet for a while. My winter coats don't judge me.

1 comment:

  1. Wow you bring you out lots of things to ponder over in dealing with this book, very convincingly I might add. Confession: you've convinced me.

    You'd be a great book reviewer if you're ever interested--this is exactly the kind of stuff that editors need to know about before something gets published.

    For this title, I think we hit on some of this in class, though not as in-depth. I love how in these blogs you're really able to cut straight to the chase--both for this one and for one about Nick Burd...That's why I love these blogs (and have mixed feelings about switching them around on the syllabus); you all can say things in the blogs that you may or may not say in class....Color me torn.