Eve Ensler: the stomach is the pouch for all the self-hatred

“In the midst of a war on Iraq, in a time of torture camps and daily bombings, when civil liberties are disappearing as fast as the ozone layer, when one out of three women in the world will be beaten or raped in her lifetime, why write a play about my stomach?

Maybe because my stomach is one thing I feel I have control over, or maybe because I have hoped that my stomach is something I could get control over. 

Maybe because I see how my stomach has come to occupy my attention, I see how other women’s stomachs or butts or hair or skin have come to occupy their attention, so that we have very little left for the war on Iraq – or much else, for that matter. 

When a group of ethnically diverse, economically disadvantaged women in the United States was recently asked about the one thing they would change in their lives if they could, the majority of these women said they would lose weight. 

Maybe I identify with these women because I have bought into the idea that if my stomach were flat, then I would be good, and I would be safe.  I would be protected.  I would be accepted, admired, important, loved. 

Maybe because for most of my life I have felt wrong, dirty, guilty, and bad, and my stomach is the carrier, the pouch for all that self-hatred.  Maybe because my stomach has become the repository for my sorrow, my childhood scars, my unfulfilled ambition, my unexpressed rage. 

Like a toxic dump, it is where the explosive trajectories collide – the Judeo-Christian imperative to be good; the patriarchal mandate that women be quiet, be less; the consumer-state imperative to be better, which is based on the assumption that you were born wrong and bad, and that being better always involves spending money, lots of money. 

Maybe because, as the world rapidly divides into fundamentalist camps, reductive sound bites, and polarizing platitudes, an exploration of my stomach and the life therein has the potential to shatter these dangerous constraints.”

– Eve Ensler, The Good Body, 2004

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One thought on “Eve Ensler: the stomach is the pouch for all the self-hatred

  1. Pingback: “If only my stomach were flat…” « Living Ubuntu Blog

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