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.