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Beyond the Fixed Female Body Image and Consumerism: Eve Ensler’s The Good Body and “Love Your Tree”

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2008, 21(3), pp.35-69
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Hye-Gyong Kwon 1

1동서대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this article is to study the influence of the concept of the ideal beauty and consumerism on the female body in the Western culture in Eve Ensler's The Good Body. This monodrama consists of several episodes told by a variety of women in the world, most of them talk about negative opinions about their own bodies and their ceaseless trials to approach the ideal body. However, some voices from the non-Western culture, such as Leah's and Priya's, admit they like their own bodies as they are. The beauty myth has been fixed strongly and distortedly in the Western culture since the 19th century, which has forced women to adjust themselves to the standard of the ideal beauty. In the culture, looking good is more than just feeling good; it is to be good. The ideal beauty is based on the thin body, which has raised the cult of thinness in the Western culture. Quite a number of women go on diets, even worse, some of them are suffering from eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia. Mass media and commercial advertisement have fueled this situation even worse. Impossible images of perfection created by these devices have made women feel dissatisfied with their own bodies, and forced them to try to transform their bodies through consumption, in order to fill the gap. As a result, female consumers have been under the control of the beauty-related industries, for example, diet, fitness, and plastic surgery. They have also become beneficiaries of the technical advance and informations in these sections. In The Good Body, Ensler insists that the ideal beauty, which Western patriarchal society and consumer culture established, has made women very distracted and focused on "one little country called their body" while they're missing the rest of the world. So Ensler asks women to "step off the capitalist treadmill" and to "love your tree." It means that women should accept their bodies as they are so that they will be able to serve the world in a bigger way and see their roles in it. For this, beauty also should be reinterpreted as "noncompetitive, nonhierarchical, and nonviolent."

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