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Bodies Paperback – Mar 3 2009
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“Orbach provides a rich, nuanced context for the present moment, looking through time and across cultures.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A cogent, relevant look at the contemporary body in crisis.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“A smart and rich compendium of what is going on within and without our bodies today, its pages informed by Orbach's decades of clinical practice and research.” ―The Times (UK)
“A timely and powerful polemic . . . on the western obsession with achieving physical perfection.” ―The Guardian (UK)
“A timely entry in the current analysis of reality versus fiction that seems to be steadily encompassing all facets of American life.” ―Booklist
“Virtually all feminist debate on body image and beauty imagery owes its existence to Susie Orbach's enduring formulation.” ―Naomi Wolf
“Susie Orbach's pioneering work isn't just the first to expose the links between sexual politics and female dieting; it remains the classic work on the subject.” ―Susan Faludi
“Ms. Orbach extends feminist analysis systematically, convincingly, and movingly to portray the anorectic struggle as a metaphor for our age.” ―The New York Times Book Review on Hunger Strike
About the Author
Susie Orbach is the co-founder of the Women's Therapy Centre in London and New York. A former Guardian (UK) columnist, she was visiting professor for ten years at the London School of Economics and is the convener of www.any-body.org. She is a consultant and co-originator of the Dove Campaing for Real Beauty. The author of a number of books, including On Eating, The Impossibility of Sex, and the bestseller Fat is a Feminist Issue, she lectures extensively worldwide.See all Product Description
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Even though I wrote this text as part of my review of Susie Orbach's latest book Bodies, I still can't help but shake my head each time I read it. Orbach, renowned UK psychotherapist and one of the driving forces behind Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, opened my eyes to the true nature of our relationship with our bodies. I've always known that the media has played a part in my own personal struggle to accept my body, but after reading Bodies abundant with realities such as, "2,000 to 5,000 times a week, we receive images of bodies enhanced by digital manipulation," I now recognize the full extent to which the media and our environment negatively affects how we view and feel about our bodies.
Despite the the alarming facts, what I appreciate most about her book is that she left me feeling hopeful. Pick up a copy and become inspired to cultivate a life without body shame, without the need to remodel yourself against an unattainable Western ideal. [...]
She illustrates her thesis with interesting - occasionally horrifying - stories. For example; in 1995, the World Health Organization changed it's definition of Body Mass Index (BMI) By that new definition, Brad Pitt became "overweight", and George Clooney became "obese". I'll spare you the story of the man who didn't like his legs, but Orbach opens the book with it.
Why should this matter? For one thing, she believes that the range of what constitutes "beauty" is being narrowed by the advertising we see constantly. And that is a loss - we shouldn't all have to be tall, thin, and blond to be considered beautiful.
Orbach proposes the original idea of a critical period for "body acquisition" (similar to that of language acquisition) during which time a young child develops a sense of being in his or her body. The ability to achieve a sense that one's body is stable and reliable ultimately depends on the quality of attachment to the caregiver, as well as the caregiver's ability to be comfortable with their own body (as "every body is made with the intimate imprint of the familial body story"). Children who do not successfully gain a sense of body stability become the teenagers and adults who are most vulnerable to succumbing to the messages of the globalized media and perpetually manipulating their body into the idealized westernized body.
Orbach explains how as a result of this never-ending battle, "the body has become a casing for fantasy rather than a place from which to live." The solution for this dis-embodiment, she suggests, lies in "engaging with the difficulties that our bodies present to us at a psychological, personal, and social level." By learning how to embody our bodies, we will be able to fully live in them--instead of in the hopes that they could be something more.
Although _Bodies_ may be a small book, its content is profound and largely pertains to any and every body.
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