TORONTO SUN: Body and Soul highlights women's real beauty
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From: Russell Diabo
Sent: Monday, June 01, 2009 7:17 AM
Subject: TORONTO SUN: Body and Soul highlights women's real beauty
Monday, June 1, 2009
Comment Columnists / John Snobelen
Body and Soul highlights women's real beauty
By JOHN SNOBELEN
Last Updated: 31st May 2009, 3:28am
Sometimes the beauty business isn't very beautiful.
Consider the Ramos sisters. Two beautiful young women from Uruguay, they lit up the runway as fashion models. But the beauty industry is into thin so Luisel and Eliana Ramos starved. To death.
Luisel died on August 2, 2006. She was 22. Eliana died a few months later. She was 18.
Or consider the more insidious damage done by the unreal images of beauty that are blasted at women every day. Only 2% of women are comfortable calling themselves beautiful. 92% of girls want to change something about their appearance. One in four college women has an eating disorder.
Then consider Fiji. Before commercial television went on air in Fiji, bulimia did not exist. But after three years of commercial broadcasting, bulimia was a serious problem.
The beauty industry has a dark side. But there are some beautiful women who are out to change all that.
Last year I wrote a column about one of those women, Glenda Klassen. Faithful readers might remember that Glenda was one of thousands of women who responded to Dove's invitation to write a letter to her body. A few months later she found herself onstage in Toronto as part of the cast of the play Body and Soul.
The play was a brilliant compilation of the lives of 13 women expertly woven together by the renowned playwright Judith Thompson and commissioned by Dove. The whole point of the exercise was to drive the message "beauty has no age limit." It worked.
Ten sold out shows and a CBC documentary later, the play was supposed to be over. But its back.
My friend Tracy Goss says that transformation is putting at risk the success you have been for the possibility that you are. I suspect the cast of Body and Soul are going to find this production transformative.
They are risking the unqualified success of the initial run. The possibility? Well perhaps it's the possibility of changing our image of aging and beauty.
I asked Thompson why she would take the risk. After all she has won more awards than Elvis, including two Governor General Awards and the Order of Canada. She doesn't need to do Body and Soul.
Thompson believes the play deserves to be seen. She feels it is a great tragedy that "women of a certain age" become invisible. And she is clearly inspired by this cast.
Remarkably almost the entire original cast is back with the addition of one new member, Joanna Anaquod.
I spoke with Anaquod as she was rehearsing. She said she was working hard to make sure she "didn't let anyone down." She won't.
Body and Soul is uniquely challenging. Every member of the cast must bring the essence of themselves to the stage every night. Publicly revealing the joy and pain in their lives and, in Anaquod's case, singing in public for the first time.
Anaquod's journey stretches from residential schools in Saskatchewan to the cast of Body and Soul and seamlessly weaves into the fabric of a play about the lives of women. All of the challenges of life are onstage in the suffering and happiness and the failures and accomplishments of 12 ultimately beautiful women.
I asked Anaquod about her take on the premise of the play -- that beauty has no age limit. She said there was a kind of beauty not available when "life is not filled up." In her words "it's stories that make people beautiful." Indeed.
ANSWER TO EXCESSES
And there it is. The answer to all the excesses of the beauty industry. A wisdom that can't be found in fashion magazines. Real beauty is about more than how you look -- it's about who you are.
An elder woman once said the great question is whether the pain that is part of every life will open your heart or close it forever. Body and Soul provides an eloquent answer to that question.
Body and Soul is at the Tarragon Theatre from June 4-21. Take your mom and your teenagers and be prepared to be inspired.
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