In the finale of the theatre piece Ten Women, the women on stage tried an experiment. What would it be like to show our ordinary, un-Photoshopped bodies in all their frailty and glory to the world?
The all female cast asked themselves that and also invited any members of the audience to join them. Some of the performers stripped naked, others left their underwear on and still others remained fully clothed. No-one in the audience joined them apart from the writer/director and producer who were sitting among us.
It was a powerful, uncomfortable and also celebratory end to the work in progress show exploring what being a real woman with a real body means in a society where “the image of a hyper-sexualised, grossly exaggerated, objectified woman’s body is used to sell pretty much anything”.
… the stories of ten women but also of each of us individual women – and ultimately, all women. I found it fascinating and engaging, especially as it touches on many of the themes I explore in Bound Feet Blues but within the context of a modern Western culture.
It is sobering to think that the issues around worth and body image, desirability and power, beauty and acceptance that led women to mutilate their feet in China for a thousand years remains as pressing and real as ever in our modern Western liberal culture. Women today may not be breaking their feet en masse but some are doing so by choice for the sake of high heels with Cinderella surgery and many of us are still judged on our looks and still subject ourselves to all manner of body beautification processes which may range from simple make-up to full blown cosmetic surgery.
It was a privilege to see this show in its raw and work-in-progress form last night and I am looking forward to seeing the full show when it is finally completed.
Photos: from the Jackdaw Theatre website, with thanks
About Yang-May Ooi, Writer & Performer – Bound Feet Blues
Yang-May Ooi is a mixed media author & story performer. Her work explores the power of personal narrative to enchant, inspire and transform. Bound Feet Blues is her first full length solo story performance.