(CW: body image, eating disorders. We talk about anorexia, bulimia, and other sensitive subjects.)
The homework for the episode:
Martha: The Art of Starving, 2017 novel by Sam J. Miller
Pete: Zoolander, 2001 film directed by Ben Stiller and starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Christine Taylor
Maren: Hairspray, the 2007 film directed by Adam Shankman and starring Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Queen Latifah, among others
A teen boy believes that starving himself gives him super powers, that he plans to use to get revenge on the people he thinks are responsible for making his sister run away.
Male models overcome professional jealousy to take down the seedy underbelly of the fashion industry, which is secretly the cause of political assassinations throughout history.
A girl on the chunky side takes a local dancing show by storm in 1960’s Baltimore, and uses the momentum to fight racial discrimination.
Friend of the show Maren Hagman is back to help us get into the serious topic of Body Image. Our subjects range from conceited male models to small town teens, that deal with eating disorders, self image, body positivity, and other related topics. It’s a sensitive conversation and we get a little prickly about it!
Your podcasters’ credentials:
Pete: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel
Martha: “Girls Talk” by Dave Edmunds
Maren: Civilisations trailer
Everyone freaks out a little when Pete tells us that In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is TWENTY YEARS OLD, WHAT. Martha has been watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but not close enough to the episode for that to be her pick, so instead she waxes poetic about one of the closing credit songs. Maren catches us all up to speed on our Historical Society
Much like our episode on bullying and suicide, this is an episode where there are a lot of feelings about a very sensitive topic. We dig into the way our three homework media portray different bodies and the relationships we have to them, across the spectrum from positive and healthy to decidedly not. If you find talking about bodies and eating disorders too overwhelming, you may consider skipping this one.
Some of the questions we discuss are:
- How do these media conform to or subvert expectations of body image? Are they body positive?
- What does healthy body image mean for the protagonists?
- How do gender and race impact characters’ body image?
- Do Hairspray and Zoolander use humor effectively to reinforce or challenge traditional body image?
Here is a link to the article I mention about body image on Broadway. Also, here is a tremendously relevant article that just came out in the New York Times about Adam Rippon and the prevalence of starving in figure skating, that also gets into the idea that eating disorders among men are one of the worst kept secrets in our cultural landscape.
In addition to the broader discussion on weight and eating disorders, we also have the chance to touch on the question of self image and race, although we all acknowledge that we are three white people talking about things we can’t possibly have experience with.
If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder, you can reach out to the National Eating Disorders Association via phone (1-800-931-2237) or chat through their website here.
Next episode, we are joined by Martha’s coworker Lauren Maxwell to talk about Fairy Tales!
The homework for February 28:
Martha: Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006 film by Guillermo del Toro
Pete: Hellboy volume 3: The Chained Coffin and Others by Mike Mignola
Lauren Maxwell: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
Find Pete on Twitter @piko3000, and find Martha on both Instagram AND Twitter @magicalmartha. Maren is educating children on Twitter @a_star_danced.
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