Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Not Over Until the Fat Lady Sings (Or Strips)

An excerpt from Stephanie Howell’s essay Stripper Role Sparks Artist's Body Acceptance on Women’s enews is going to be my inspiration for the New Year.

Howell explains how when she was cast as a fat stripper in Gypsy that she couldn’t “escape” anyone or her body. There were mirrors, actors, audiences and she was forced to deal with her “fat” body.

“It was through performing Mazeppa and embracing fearlessness that I was able to construct a new understanding of "fat" and the "performance of fatness" in my live performances. I made the conscious decision that I didn't have to hate my body anymore. I didn't have to hide my body anymore--I didn't have to be ashamed of my fatness. That's not to say that newfound acceptance of my fat body happened overnight--it didn't. This was a slow, slow process. A slow process that began with me being grateful that I had a working and functional body--I hadn't damaged my physical body through my own abuse.”

I think when we focus on body acceptance we want it to be an instant fix, but as Howell points out, a change like this takes time to really take hold.

“Through this appreciation, I was able to see my body in a different light. Fat didn't mean "bad," "unworthy," "unlovable" or "undesirable." I began wearing clothing that fit close to my body. I wanted people to see my fatness. I would no longer be invisible. This appreciation of my fatness sparked my professional work.”

This sense of acceptance is what I strive for everyday. An acceptance of my less than perfect parts.

I wonder if stripping, in its literal sense, is a healthy act for women in this context. If we could all be forced to play the role of a stripper and end up having such a positive experience afterwards, it would be totally worth it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Erotic Ballerina Addicted to Drugs Finds Memoir

From xo Jane: Caitlin Thomas writes in WHAT IT'S REALLYLIKE: I'M A DRUG-ADDICTED STRIPPER: Empowerment comes in the front door when I can make rent in a singular evening. Yet, it leaves through the back door when I blow it all on pills.

I like this woman’s honesty, but it does make me wonder what the correct response is from the reader.

Should we be happy that she’s coherent enough to string together words?

Should we rub our hands together with glee because we knew all along that strippers were all a bunch of druggies?

Should we think it’s so cool and edgy to write about one’s own vices while in the midst of them with that oh-so-cooler-than-thou-attitude of superiority?

Or do we examine the role of memoir as it is used here to hopefully enable this woman to see her demons out in the open and perhaps start dealing with them before it is too late?

Personal writing can be used to help people in the midst of traumatic experiences process the experience and see it for what it is. Thomas’ simple act of reflecting on her experience, which she admits is stereotypical in most people’s eyes, will hopefully allow her to understand herself better and deeper.