Friday, July 30, 2010

The Body Project by Joan Jacobs Brumberg

Despite the slightly provocative cover, "The Body Project" is a surprisingly intellectual exploration of who girls relate to their bodies, and how this has changed over the last century.  The author is a professor of American history, who was been involved with the Women's Studies program over the years.  She readily admits to being a feminist, but there is quite little about this book that would appeal to the stereotypical feminist viewpoint.

Brumberg uses historical records, including hundreds of diaries from ordinary American girls, to illustrate the changes in girls' attitudes towards inner vs. outer beauty, menstration, skin care, controlling body shape,  virginity, and relationship with mothers and other girls/women.  Her handling of these topics is sometimes frank, but overall sensitive, and full of surprises.

The conclusion of the historical review is that all this "freedom" has left girls more confused than ever, and something needs to be done to protect our girls as they navigate the difficult path from girl-woman.

So many things to think about, talk about, and take action on.... would make a GREAT book club night!

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