Women speak truth - Eve Ensler
Several years ago, I heard Eve Ensler was coming to Charlotte, North Carolina, just a few hours’ drive from here, to perform her new play, “The Good Body.” Ensler’s internationally acclaimed work, “The Vagina Monologues,” continues to be performed around the world, and her V-Day organization is a force to be reckoned with, a global movement to end violence against women and girls, bringing women’s bodies—and the rest of us—into focus.
With as many body issues as the next person, I needed to go see what “The Good Body” had to say to me. New to Asheville, I didn’t yet have a close group of women friends to dip into for company, so I emailed those women here whose email addresses I had—perhaps we had met at a potluck or a class or a baby shower—and invited anyone who was interested to go to Charlotte with me, see the show, spend the night—a road trip. Lots of women responded, three could actually go, and off we went. One was a neighbor I knew, but not well yet, and the other two were women I didn’t know, but had met briefly. We got to know each other as we drove, ate, listened, and talked.
We ate dinner at a restaurant in Charlotte that knows what it’s doing—the best service I think I’ve ever received. We walked from there to the theatre, where we saw Eve Ensler herself perform. A small theatre. We were seated, much to my delight, in none other than Row V.
“The Good Body” was Ensler’s attempt to understand what we do in service to body ideal: “This play is an expression of my hope, my desire, that we will all refuse to be Barbie, that we will say no to the loss of the particular, whether it be to a voluptuous woman in a silk sari, or a woman with defining lines of character in her face, or a distinguishing nose, or olive-toned skin, or wild curly hair.”
As she writes in the introduction to her book based on the play: “Tell the image makers and magazine sellers and the plastic surgeons that you are not afraid. That what you fear the most is the death of imagination and originality and metaphor and passion. Then be bold and LOVE YOUR BODY. STOP FIXING IT. It was never broken.”
Eve Ensler’s power comes from speaking truth. We can recognize it when we hear it. We gravitate toward it like a plant to the sun. It scares and exhilarates and liberates us, the truth does. When we recognize our truth in someone else’s words, it confirms us, validates us, serves as connective tissue to bind us to all the others who are nodding their heads and humming “amen.” As I wrote before, hearing Eve Ensler had a big impact on me:
"I want to be Eve Ensler when I grow up. I’m going to Kim’s Wig Shop downtown and get her black, shiny pageboy hair in wig form. I’m going to speak out and be energetic and articulate and have something important to say. I’m going to pay attention to what’s going on in the world as if the fate of the world depended on me paying attention. I’m going to have a point of view and an opinion without waiting for other people to tell me what it is. I’m going to do the work I know I need to do, that I must do, that I’ve been waiting my whole life to do, without waiting for an audience. I’m going to sit up straighter and I’m going to make people hear me. I’m going to ask a lot more questions and I’m going to pay attention to the answers as if they really mattered. I’m going to really, really listen to people when they tell me their stories. I’m going to raise my voice if it needs to be raised. I’m going to lend my voice to people who have none. I’m going to figure out how to be an effective advocate for others. I’m not going to care anymore whether people like me when I speak my truth. I’m never going to ask for permission again. And, as Ensler said, “I am going to hold who I am in the face of anything.”
The woman makes me want to write manifestos.
We live in good bodies.