Painting by Magritte
On Saturday 27th June "The False Body" Conference took place in London to celebrate 30 years of Susie Orbach's book Fat is a Feminist Issue and to explore the body in the context of psychoanalysis. The event was chaired by Brett Kahr and the speakers were Susie Orbach, Valerie Sinason and Catherine Baker-Pitts all of whom spoke in illuminating, honest and powerful ways about - the body.
There is no doubt that fat is still a feminist issue. Susie Orbach said that if we when we ask whether fat is still a feminist issue we ask the question - is there a form of violence against women's bodies today? - then the answer to that has to be yes. This is because, as was so clear from the speakers' different presentations, our relationships with our bodies are still so troubled and full of pain and our search for a body is so frantic within our modern culture. And not just women - men too.
The frantic search for a body was epitomised in a presentation by the psychoanalyst Catherine Baker-Pitts who is studying the cosmetic surgery industry in the USA. Her very clear impression from extensive research with women in the USA is that cosmetic surgery is becoming a cultural imperative. The pressure on women to have cosmetic surgery is becoming increasingly enormous and if you don't have it then you are seen as somehow lacking. There are no longer limits to the search for the "perfect" body. So, just like the diet industry, the cosmetic surgery industry is now making huge money and profits out of our dis-ease around our bodies.
One member of the audience asked - how can we be resilient to these huge cultural and commercial pressures?
It can start here. AnyBody wants to fight for variety in bodies and the possibility of having a body at peace.
30 years since Susie Orbach wrote Fat is a Feminist issue and we can still be full of hope that there can be change and peace for our bodies.