Our Own Skin Part Two

In humanity’s youth women were esteemed daughters of a Great Cosmic Mother, and a woman’s body was glorified as the living depiction of the Female Divine that moves through life, birthing, dying and forever being born again. This was no fad, phase or strange fertility cult humanity breezed through on its way to the “Real Truth”. For a much longer time than the five thousand years humanity has devoted itself to a God, it gave its whole hearted worship, love and ecstatic adoration to a Goddess.

And this Goddess was almost always fat! Yes, archaic images of women were lavishly fat, the “F’ word that can terrorize women today and send them into a flight of panic and depression. No girdles or corsets for this outrageous woman. Buxom, heavy-thighed and big-bunned; the Goddess of old was layered in deep female flesh.

What would prehistoric people have thought if they could have suddenly been handed a Barbie Doll to check out? They probably would have laughed themselves silly at this ridiculous statue of a skinny impossibly proportioned woman, yet that is the goddess most females today are raised on.

History shows that women have been trying to alter their bodies to please men for longer than I care to remember. We’ve sported full length gowns with bustles impossible to run in, corsets that have cinched a woman’s waist so hard that eating was not an option; we’ve worn garter belts and bras with stiff wires, poured ourselves into girdles and tight panty hose, all the things a girl can’t wait to rip off at the end of a long day. Eventually when women did cast off the tourniquet under-garments that fashion demanded, an entire industry collapsed and went broke.

I recently watched a documentary about the history of fashion and a (woman) narrator stated that over the years, corsets have allowed women to shape their bodies to fit the current style. (Lucky us?)

But wait a minute. Who is designing these fashions that demand a woman to so drastically alter herself?

Men, of course.

In the late 1960s when young women had enough flattening, binding, pushing up, pressing down, covering up and uncovering they collectively tossed their bras in the fire, an act of revolution that burnt like a magnificent comet, and shook the foundations of an entrenched patriarchal system.

If the men who had made millions controlling a woman’s body through the corset could no longer gorge off of that market (because women were rebelling and no longer consenting to the constraint), the fashion industry cleverly devised a new kind of bodily restraint, an insidious invisible one that presented a flawless potential for an endless money-making market. In 1965, during the so-called Sexual Revolution, the men of the fashion industry gave women Twiggy. Twiggy was the start of the modern “thin craze”, a fiendishly clever form of psycho-sexual warfare committed against women.

Who needs a girdle when you look like Twiggy, or even a bra? A mere glance at the diet-weight loss industry, a primarily female market, tells us what an ingenious stroke of marketing the male driven fashion industry had devised. Twiggy was the first female in recent history to model woman in the figure of a boy. Today that boy image has evolved (?) into massively buff she-males in camo holding M16s as “empowered” models of the female sex. Another brilliant move in the fashion industry; make women aspire to look like men, a basically unattainable task, though heaven knows women have tried.

The big question is, do women really want to be like men? NO. I don’t. I think women want to be like women: in their own skin. How can women slip back into their own skin when they have Playboy Bunnies and Barbie dolls as icons and archetypes, and a media and culture that refuse to let a woman’s body be itself? How can women even know what their own skin feels like apart from the roles they’ve been given by male culture? In the millennia of patriarchal rule, men have re-created women’s bodies again and again in the image that suits and pleases them. They have marketed this manmade image of woman and become very rich, thereby increasing their inescapable power.

I think women want to grow into themselves, into their own skin, whether it be thin, lavish or somewhere in between. Yet the image of the diminished female persists. I remember shopping in a chic boutique one day and finding a $100 pair of designer jeans that were a size 0, and I thought how proud and elated the little, probably anorexic girl who bought them would be to be sized down to nothing! This is a prime example of psycho-sexual warfare; it works on unconscious levels.

Women continue to starve themselves, or eat and hate themselves. In the end, we have the crazy situation of the race’s primal mothers and nourishers losing their relationship to food and no longer being able to (without guilt or self condemnation) nourish themselves. I’ve said this before, but I think it’s an important point to remember, because it is so revealing.

Women end up with the terrible dilemma of living in their bodies, but not being in touch with them, or worse yet, despising them because they don’t fit the image demanded of them by male culture.

How can women slip back their own skin?

I’ve been asking myself this question for a long time, and I think I have some answers.