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-   -   Valerie Lefkowitz and the Morality Play (http://www.judgmentofparis.com/board/showthread.php?t=25)

HSG 5th July 2005 18:57

Valerie Lefkowitz and the Morality Play
 

(Originally posted on The Judgment of Paris Forum, January 28th, 2005.)

Readers of this forum who have some background in English Literature will be aware of the genre of medieval drama known as "The Morality Play." The action in the typical Morality Play revolves around the plight of a single individual (often dubbed "Mankind," or "Everyman"), who symbolically represents all of humanity. Throughout the Morality Play, the Everyman character confronts the forces of good and evil, which attempt to lead him to salvation, or to perdition--to redeem him, or to destroy him.

The two most powerful allegorical figures in these dramas--who usually stand on either side of the "Everyman" character as the play unfolds, and represent the polar extremes of deliverance or destruction--are called (simply and descriptively): The Good Angel and The Bad Angel.

That, in a nutshell, is what one finds in the current issue of Figure. On the one hand, Valerie Lefkowitz is on the cover, and in several pages of the magazine. The photographs are spectacular--far and away the best work that has ever appeared in Figure, and infinitely superior to anything that we ever saw in Grace, and . . . (brace yourself) . . . fully up to Mode standards.

That's right. That's how gorgeous she looks in this magazine. Worthy of Mode, at its very best.

Click to enlarge

And then, on the other hand, not only are there more diet advertisements in this issue than ever before, but there is even an article advocating a life-threatening surgical procedure--just to lose weight.

Valerie vs. body mutilation. The most powerful symbol of body love vs. the most vicious manner of attack on the female figure.

The Good Angel vs. the Bad Angel . . .

* * *

One traditional reading of the medieval Morality Play analyzes it as a psychomachia, an externalization of a conflict that actually takes place within the mind of the "Everyman" character. In this interpretation, the Good Angel represents Mankind's conscience, and the Bad Angel represents his self-destructive impulses.

In like manner, the current issue of Figure is a vivid allegory of the forces that govern the thoughts of many full-figured women today, bombarded as they are by society's notoriously mixed messages about food and weight. Figure both reflects and perpetuates this mental tug-of-war, pulling in both directions at once.

On the one hand, with the advent of size celebration, women are discovering their "inner Goddess" and starting to believe that they might, just might, be able to think of themselves as Valerie Lefkowitzes--i.e., as desirable beings--and not as unsightly embarrassments, unworthy of romantic attention. But on the other hand, women are still confronting the forces of self-hatred that the media has implanted deep within their minds--the forces that command them to starve, to torture themselves, even to put their lives at risk, simply to lose weight.

So what's the solution, you ask?

The solution is to employ the approach that some readers of this forum use in dealing with Glamour, whenever that magazine features a single size-positive image or article nestled within pages upon pages of diet propaganda: Peruse the magazine, and if you decide that you simply must have these stunning images of the Good Angel for yourself, then simply remove those inspiring masterpieces, and discard the rest of the magazine.

In short, become your own editor.

As soon as full-figured women become accustomed to performing this physical act of editing a magazine for themselves, then they will be able to enact the same process, mentally. They will learn to heed the positive impulses that encourage them to love their bodies, and banish the negative impulses that pressure them to hate their bodies.

* * *

Beyond that, there is no reason to repeat our previous discussions about the "pros" and "cons" of Figure, as it currently exists. In fact, there is nothing left to say--period. The "pro" argument runs, "At least it is producing images of full-figured feminine beauty, which otherwise would not exist." And the "con" argument runs, "True, but those images are simply being used to lure full-figured women 'in,' whereupon the magazine assaults them with a message of body shame."

Both arguments are valid. But really, who would have ever imagined that the latter argument could possibly apply to a magazine published by . . . a retailer of full-figured women's fashion?

{shakes head in disbelief}



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