Two women doctors and a woman therapist sitting at dinner... (No, this is
not the beginning of some crude joke)...
Just imagine - . Frustrated
with the state of women's health, they ask each other, "If we could change just
one thing about women's healthcare, what would it be?" They take a moment to think
about it, and they all agree on an answer.
"Imagine a world where there would
be more images of women-images of greater diversity-that would support real women - "
begins Cathy Conheim, one of the founders of the Real Women Project and the Athena
Foundation. "Creating a definition of beauty that is wide enough to include you
and everybody that you love. Because, if it's not wide enough to include you,
it's not wide enough to promote health."
There are many psychological studies
demonstrating that over 70% of women feel depressed, guilty, and shameful after
only minutes of viewing a fashion magazine. Actual physical indicators of depression
include: imbalances in neurotransmitters, increase in stress hormones and suppression
of the immune system. Who knew that your copy of Vogue could actually make you
sick! So cancel your subscriptions, throw away your last store-bought copies,
and wear blinders while grocery shopping. Ahhh - Freedom at last. Imagine. Never
picking up a fashion magazine again. No more starvation images-pictures that haunt
and pound us into a state of depression and self-loathing within the first five
minutes of perusal. But there are more than just magazines out there.
"A normal, 'regular' person (not
one who sits in front of the TV all day) sees four- to six-hundred ads a day!
That's what gets in without our permission while we are going about our lives,
driving our car, watching billboards, doing whatever! And one out of eleven of
those ads are about beauty or beauty-related products," according to Cathy's statistics.
Ads penetrate our minds so effectively
that we can quote ads that have not been aired in many years! For example: "Plop.
Plop. Fizz. Fizz - (fill in the blank)." This ad for a popular brand of antacid,
hasn't run for twenty years! And how do these insidious jingles seep in to our
consciousness? Through multimedia and constant repetition. So how do we remove
or replace the toxic images and notions that plague us? Through multimedia and
What does it take to wage war on
the beauty and diet industries in one swoop: the cosmetic industry reaping over
$20 billion a year, and the diet industry-with its 97% failure rate-taking in
over $40 billion? This group of three women friends, over dinner, simply began.
They knew a sculptor. The sculptor
was so inspired by the idea that she created images of thirteen women ranging
in age from 14 to 72-all shapes and sizes. A poet saw the sculptures. She was
so inspired that she wrote poems for each sculpture and for the project itself.
A musician saw the sculptures and read the poems. She wrote a song. A photographer
saw the sculptures, read the poems, heard the song. She made a video of the sculptures,
poem and song.
Three women. One dinner. A multimedia
project to change women's health forever.
"The goals of this project are to
invite women into a dialogue about 'what is beauty?' And to invite women to not
think of beauty as one dimensionally as we've been taught--we are more than just
our bodies-we have minds and spirits and souls," declares Cathy. "But that's not
what counts! It's what's on that scale-what shape we are. That's what we've been
told. And as long as we buy into that, and say that's our 'value' and spend all
of our time and money and energy on it, it becomes a reality." Cathy goes on to
define "Reality is Imagination times Vividness-how many times you go over and
over it becomes your reality. So the goals of this project are simple and yet
complex: We believe that self-acceptance and self-love are the foundation for
mind, body and spirit health. You can't come out being healthy hating yourself.
It just doesn't work."
From one dinner conversation, over
six million women will be transformed by the Real Women Pro-ject as it tours the
United States over the next five years. Kansas City hopes to be a model for the
cities visited. Instead of a "passing fancy," the Real Women Sculptures will find
a home here in the Central Exchange Education Center. The sculptures, multimedia
presentation, and corresponding workshops will then become a part of our schools'
curriculum, our doctors' training, our health facilities' programming, and on
and on. Every woman in the Kansas City area will have an opportunity to redefine
beauty, to reclaim her body, find her voice, express her story: through poetry,
song, movement, painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, you name it!
One woman telling one woman telling
one woman can and will change the world. How would you like to be inspired? Just
imagine - .
Real Women Project coordinators in
Kansas City can be reached through The Central Exchange by phone at 816-471-7560
and via e-mail at: info@RealWomenProject.org
Breakthrough Press webpage: www.BreakThroughPress.com