Research show that the U.S. spends over $33 billion on weight-reduction programs, diet foods and beverages, and more than 50 percent of women say they would consider having plastic surgery. Statistics revealed in the new documentary "Miss Representation" are shocking: The number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed on patients 18 or younger more than tripled from 1997 to 2007. Among those 18 and younger, liposuctions nearly quadrupled between 1997 and 2007, and breast augmentations increased nearly six-fold in the same 10-year period.
It's worth noting that, among men, plastic surgery, eating disorders, and purchases of wildly expensive grooming products and services are also rising at staggering rates.
Loving your body -- and honoring the bodies of others -- is an active and ongoing process. (And, if I may add, a joyful one.) These nine reads can be part of the journey.
- Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier. It's precise, hilarious, jubilant, visionary, and clever. Authored by the Pulitzer-winning biology writer for The New York Times, this book holds jaw-dropping amounts of bio-socio-psycho-cultural information, plus an astonishing amount of puns. It is a work of beauty.
- Our Bodies, Ourselves by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective. Say you want revolution.
- Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts. This book traces how black bodies as objects of property in the American past lingers in contemporary policies and public conversations.
- S.E.X: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College by Heather Corinna. A sort of Our Bodies, Ourselves for the younger set, all genders included, by the smart and deeply honest founder of Scarleteen.
- The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf. On the twin sweetnesses and horrors of the beauty business, with particular attention to how the beauty myth functions as a form of social control, inhibiting our day-to-day lives.
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. In 1941 Ohio, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove dreams that her eyes will turn blue so she can look like all the 'real' American kids pictured in her schoolbooks.
- Self-Help by Lorrie Moore. Satirizing the form of self-help books, Moore's classic collection of nine stories explores our personal worlds of longing, humor, and self-criticism.
- The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein. A smart and hilarious play featuring an art historian who specializes in forgotten female painters and is trying to build her own image of womanhood during the "big chill" of the 1980s.
- Loose Women by Sandra Cisneros. "Published in 1994, this slim collection of poetry is infused with sexuality, passion and a celebration of Mexican-American culture." See Monet Moutrie's review on Isak here.