begets art. When Cathy Conheim, a psychotherapist, and two Ob-Gyns,
Donna Brooks, M.D. and Barbara Levy, M.D., commissioned the Real Women
sculptures as a way of using art to initiate a new dialogue about
body image and women’s health, little did they know what they were
a poet first encountered the sculptures of thirteen women’s bodies,
she was inspired to write a poem to each woman which is now an essential
part of the Real Women Project. When a singer-songwriter
saw the sculptures and read the poems, she was inspired to write
a song that has since touched the lives of thousands of people.
When a video producer listened to the music, saw the sculptures
and read the poems, she created a video revealing the beauty and
elegance of women from around the world.
women around the country visited the Real Women website and
were asked to tell their own stories, hundreds did. Many revealed
histories of shame and abuse, struggles and sorrow, hollow victories
and full-bodied failures in their battles against a beauty narrowly-defined.
One story after another contributed to a bigger story, an epic tale
of a culture’s obsession with beauty and the destruction left in
Waist is a Terrible Thing to Mind is an alarming and dramatic
expose of the profound impact of body image on women’s lives. It
is a record of real losses incurred by real women who have spent
lifetimes in pursuit of an artificial beauty—a beauty defined by
profiteers that is neither attainable nor authentic. It will not
bring down the $40 billion diet industry that thrives on women’s
vulnerability, but it may build up women’s resistance to its insidious
message that we are not acceptable exactly as we are.
are lost each year as beautiful, healthy young women starve themselves
to death. Millions of us are suffering depression and anxiety as
the media pellets us with starvation imagery and empty promises.
We are struggling for our lives here, for the lives of our children,
and our stories are our only weapons.
of our stories are difficult to share, painful to read, but bringing
them to light is the first step toward healing. We cannot change
what we do not understand, and we cannot understand what we have
not articulated. It is our stories that reveal us to ourselves and
others, remind us that we’re not alone, shed a light on what we
must change in order to grow. We must start with what is
before we move on to what can be.
It is our hope
that as art inspires art, these stories will inspire women to come
together and tell their own, for it is in these circles of trust
that healing begins.