Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: The Good Body by Eve Ensler

If you appreciate The Vagina Monologues, then you will really love its mild-mannered sister, The Good Body by Eve Ensler.  Though I have not read the script for the Monologues, I suspect the two plays are written in a very similar way.  With little to no stage cues, The Good Body reads like a book written in the first person, each chapter a new voice.  In this one, Eve herself is a character, interacting with the other characters and soliloquizing between each woman's chapter, making it a window into the author's personal journey towards tummy acceptance.

The Good Body is a series of monologues and dialogues that takes on the epidemic of shattered body image and addresses issues with the entire female body instead of one particular part.  Ensler uses real life conversations she's had with women around the world about their bodies as inspiration for the various characters in the play, which range from a young teen at fat camp to an old Indian woman at the gym on the treadmill in her sari.   Most of the characters channel their hate at a particular part of themselves, just as Ensler obsesses negatively over her "post-40s" stomach.  A few of the characters, however, love their bodies exactly as they are and inspire Eve to accept her body as a sacred, hard-working source of life.

In The Good Body, Ensler accomplishes the same stunning sense of sisterhood The Vagina Monologues does by reminding women that most of us have the same insecurities about appearance.  Instead of picking on ourselves and each other, though, we should love and accept the female body in all forms.  Ensler makes us strong in our sameness.  In the introduction, Ensler mentions that most women spend more time thinking about their own bodies than almost any political or social issue.  The Good Body urges women to make peace with their bodies so that we can turn our thoughts to more important matters.  What could we achieve if we gave up the battle between our minds and our bodies and put our energies into other fights?

I'm thinking about reading Eve Ensler's memoir In the Body of the World next.  Have any of you read any of her works, seen her plays, or watched her TED talks?  What do you think of Eve?  I'm finding her to be a pretty inspiring lady. :)


  1. i so appreciated reading your thoughts on the book! it's been a while since i've reread it, and your post got me inspired and dreamy-eyed all over again. some of the things that have stuck with me through the years are the opening where she talks about what "good" even is, and at the end when she eats the ice cream. the ice cream scene is so vulnerable and i relate to that moment so hard.

    i started reading eve's work when i was really young, and she did so much to shape who i was as a high school feminist. i've since learned about how some of her work is problematic, but i don't think it devalues the importance of what she's done here.

    great review, and i love the little definitions in your sidebar!

    xo nicole

    1. Nicole- I am jealous that you were familiar with her work in high school! I didn't hear about her until sophomore year of college. I'd love to read some criticisms, though. I think that would be fascinating and make the experience more well-rounded. Do you know of some resources on that?
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!!