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The Body Project Written by Joan Brumberg

Essay by   •  May 4, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  506 Words (3 Pages)  •  2,109 Views

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The Body Project, written by Joan Brumberg, shows how the lives of American women have changed over the years. The author gives detailed accounts of the role that body image played from the 1800s to the present. In the diary entries she provides, young women go to great lengths to better their appearance. The main argument of this book is how a girl feels about her body is often the determining factor in her self-worth. If a girl has a negative body image or feels she is overweight, she is likely to take drastic measures to make others see her in a different light. When a girl goes through puberty early she may feel awkward. Just because her body is physically mature does not mean she is mentally prepared for many of the situations a girl put herself in at a young age. In the times we live in now our society is extremely rough on young women. We are taught at an early age that beauty is important. If we do not have the image that we see on television or on magazine covers we develop a negative self- image. This affects many things throughout a girl's lifetime. The idea of appearance is always on one's mind.

In chapter one of The Body Project, the author talks about menstruation. It is handled much differently today than it was in the 1800s and the 1900s. The author states that girls menstruate early when in the right environment. Societies with disease and malnutrition prevent periods. People thought menstruation automatically meant the girl would start expressing her sexuality and that scared them. Menarche confused people in the 19oos. "Even among educated medical men, menstruation was a mystery." (Brumberg, 7) Since they did not understand it, they treated it like it was a disease of sorts. Some did not think that women could have a period, carry a job, and stay healthy at the same time. They did not think the brain and the ovaries worked together. If young girls in the 19th menstruated early they were treated poorly. Therefore, they developed a negative self-image because they were taught to believe there was something wrong with them. In the Victorian age, some mothers were so afraid of what others would think if their daughters menstruated early they limited the amount of food they ate. Brumberg goes on to discuss how girls desperately needed their mothers guidance regarding menstruation but were left to figure things out for themselves. Mothers thought by not informing their daughters of what was soon to come they were keeping them innocent. It was not long before single-sex groups were formed that supported what was referred to as "the protective umbrella." These groups aimed to promote character growth in young women. In these groups the girls did charity work, and a lot of public activities that kept them busy and focused on something other than their own body image. The mentoring that occurred in the single-sex groups had one basic goal which was to protect all girls.

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