If you ever want a lesson in life, plant yourself outside a fitting room in a women's department store. You will receive insight and education into the female psyche that you perhaps never knew existed, and most often that you wish you could forget immediately.
Now we all know that women as a whole, hate their bodies. In fact, I was listening to the radio one day on the way to work and their was a survey done where women and men were asked would they prefer to have an amazingly perfect body, or would they prefer their partner to have an amazingly perfect body, and they would just be average? The results were of course, what you would expect. 98% of the women surveyed said they would want an amazingly perfect body, and would accept their partners to be average or below average. Interestingly enough, the men also were mostly unanimous with indicating they would be happy being average or below average, as long as their partner had an amazingly perfect body.
So what does this say? That we are all shallow and body-centered with respect to women's bodies? Yes. That we feel, as a woman, we will never measure up? Yes. That we know in our heads that men expect perfection and so we look to the perfect dress, perfect set of fake tits, perfect makeup....anything we can BUY in order to fulfill this ideal of perfection.
In the women's fitting room, you hear sounds of sobbing, questions of "why does this make my ass look so bad?", "Fuck, is that cellulite?!?!?"...."Damn PMS!".....
All of the commentary, if you embrace it as you would a warm blanket, and let it wrap you up, can offer great insight.
Women have self-esteem issues. Period. I know that is not news to anyone. But as we each sit on the little bench in the fitting room stall that is entirely too poorly lit, looking in the mirror that somehow makes us look 10 pounds heavier than we really are...we feel alone. As I mourn over the loss of an unstretch-marked stomach, I feel as though I am the only one who feels this way. Just like the gal next to me sobbing because the size 8 dress doesn't fit, and she KNOWS she is a size 8...so the dress sizes must be fucked up. She is alone.
We feel we are each other's competition. That we have to look as good as or better than any other woman that passes by. Because we cannot be a consolation prize. We are at war against each other, and if you have a vagina, you are enemy number 1.
The cast of Strike! A New Bowling Pin Musical that I have been privileged to be a part of, is all women. 10 women. The rehearsal process has been relatively normal, in that, we all show up. We do the work. We run lines. The ages of these gals are all over the board. We have young, old, middle...and personalities waver as well.
I recall the first read-thru where we all met each other, and read through the script. Although many of us knew each other, there were new faces. And as I sat at the table staring at these 9 other women, I felt as though I was being sized up...and I felt myself doing the same thing.
As we began to work on the songs, and work on the blocking and running scenes, I felt like I was being sized up. Critiqued. And I knew I was doing the same thing. Someone forgot a cue???? (Damn bitch, get your shit together!) I forgot my cue???? (FUCK, well that is going to go in the rolodex of women who remember EVERYTHING, and I will now judge myself as harshly as I am being judged right now)
There comes a point when you are doing a show, where you are forced to come together as a cast. You are forced to find a common ground and mesh in order to make the show work. In order to make it real. It happens at various times. Once you hit that level, I feel, there is a real bonding that takes place. That whatever happens, you are all in this together, sink or swim.
I admit, I was afraid this would not happen in this show. We are women. We size each other up. We judge each other in the fitting rooms.
Our opening night was Saturday night and we all were sitting in the dressing room, talking, changing, putting makeup on....running lines. And it occurred to me that this was 10 women, 10 strong women, with different backgrounds, different lives, all here, in this one "fitting room" with our asses about to be hanging on the line. Together. We were about to go out on that stage and expose all of our insecurities, body hang-ups, and personality differences for all the world to see. But we were doing it together. We were on the same side. There was no battle. No competition. If the gal next to me forgot a cue or a line, I looked just as bad. We are moving as a collective unit, and I was rather humbled and honored to take the stage with these 9 other women who had my back.
What does this have to do with fitting rooms and women's bodies? Yeah, I know, I do wander a bit when I write, but stick with me, it all does come full circle.
The point is, I was as apprehensive of doing a show of all women as I am going into a fitting room to try on clothes - being judged...subconsciously judging others. Not feeling I am good enough, or that I measure up to what the other women have to offer.
And of all my theater experiences, this one is for sure one of the most revealing of myself, FOR myself. One one level, yes it is a show, and we did bond as a cast, and I feel we are a strong cast....but on another level, this has given me alot of insight into myself and my own insecurities.
Being insecure will never go away, much like the desire to have the perfect body will never go away. For generations, women feel less than best, and most die without knowing their worth. But being able to join arms with 9 other amazing women and sing collectively about "leaning" on each other, has brought me to tears every time. Because we are on the same side.
Now I have no plans to saunter into the dressing room Friday night for a 'group hug' or anything like that....but there are a few fitting rooms at Keystone at the Crossing I may have to visit singing Kum Bay Yah (sp?) this week. I have alot of free time this week - might as well spread the love.....