2015 marks the fifth year that I will be involved in the Downtown LA production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. You would think after five years that the experience of working on this play could no longer stretch me, shock me, or push my buttons.
But you would be wrong.
The play premiered in 1996, and is a candid conversation about the realities of having a vagina. It’s based on a series of interviews that Ensler conducted with 200 women about their views of sex, relationships, and violence against women. Some of the monologues are hilariously funny, others dark and moving. All are incredibly informative. Did you know, for example, that the clitoris has twice the number of nerve endings as the penis? (Check out Natalie Angier’s book Women: An Intimate Geography for even more astonishing facts).
Over the last five years I’ve performed a couple of different monologues, and they each have allowed me to stretch myself, explore different aspects of my personality and examine my own relationship with my vagina, my gender, and my sexuality.
Hell, I’m thrilled that I can even say or type the word “vagina” now without embarrassment or fear. I think many other women feel the same way, and we have Eve to thank for having the courage to start this conversation.
I mean, I even make anatomically correct vagina cupcakes for the production every year. I got this, right?
So imagine my surprise after all these years, after all these conversations about vaginas, and sex, and violence, and all the other stuff that comes up when you discuss something like this, that I would actually do something in connection to the show that made me nervous. That made me want to hide under the couch or feign the flu or hell, anything that could get me out of what I agreed to do.
We want to have a blow-out this year, for the fifth anniversary. So our producer/director decided to have a sexy photoshoot on the top of a building downtown, the product of which we would use as our publicity shots. Arden Ash – an amazing photographer and fashion technologist – was on board to take the photos.
I’m almost 40 now, and I’ve gained a bit of weight, so the idea of being sexy on top of a building in broad daylight was kind of intimidating. I don’t feel as sexy as I used to, and I certainly don’t have the bod that some of my fabulous women friends involved with the show do.
I tried on lots of different outfits at home, trying to figure out what to wear that would make me feel good enough, and hide the parts I don’t feel so fantastic about right now.
But you know what? That’s not what this show is about. This show has nothing to do with hiding who you are. So even though I was nervous, and even though I didn’t feel great about showing this sorta lumpy body to the world, I ultimately decided that hiding who I am right now in this very moment is counter to the spirit in which this play was created.
So I put it out there, lumps and all. Here is one of my shots. Yes, I’m nervous about showing it to you, but maybe my willingness to do so might inspire other women to feel less insecure about their bodies.
Nobody is perfect, and I think my strength and my purpose in life is to show others that we can have rich, meaningful, and fulfilling lives without being even close to perfect.
I don’t have a perfect body. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have confidence. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy what my body does. That doesn’t mean that OTHER people can’t enjoy what my body does, what it is capable of doing. It’s healthy and strong and has carried me through this life and goddamit I’m going to CELEBRATE it!
Let’s celebrate our bodies, ladies, instead of hiding in shame. Let’s own who we are, and let our voices rise above the Negative Nellies and Danny Downers. Let’s not let other people decide how we should feel about our bodies, our minds, ourselves.
Now go out there and kick some ass!