Monday, March 1, 2010

Growing Up Female by Eve Ensler

I am an Emotional Creature by Eve Ensler caught my attention initially because of the title but then I was drawn in by the poetic passages as Ensler gives voice to the incredible spirit of girls from around the world. It's been three decades since I was a teenager but the term "Emotional Creature" struck me as such an unapologetic truth that is just as real for a grown woman as it is for a girl just getting to know herself.

The passages range from suburban USA to the Isreali West Bank to the Masai of Kenya. But my favourite one, in its darkly humorous, simple and powerful message to girls everywhere, is the one entitled "Free Barbie". It is told from the perspective of Chang Ying an illiterate thriteen year-old girl working in a Chinese sweatshop whose job it is to assemble Barbie's head and attach it to her body. Ching Yang imagines that she can speak to every girl that buys one of her assembled Barbies:

"Because I make Barbie's head I Head Send my thoughts into each of her brains. So whatever girl gets her will hear my thoughts." pg 83

Her thoughts are descriptions of her abysmal working conditions and the attitudes of the powers that be, ". . . making her say really stupid things. They put words in her mouth: 'will we ever have enough clothes? I want to go shopping. Math is hard.'" pg 85

"I know Barbie doesn't really want to say any of this 'cause I know what's going on in her head. She talks to me. She's really angry. She's really hurting. She's really guilty. She hates shopping and feels bad about all the girls who are starved to make her and starved to be like her. She's actually very messy and surprisingly loud. She is not at all polite and she hates being shoved into really tight clothes and pointy high uncomfortable shoes.
Barbie isn't who you think she is. She's much smarter than they will let her be. She's got great powers and is kind of a genius." pg 85

So much is said in that small passage.

No comments: