Review of Body Outlaws
is not the only way in which girls and women measure their
attractiveness. Everything from hair texture and nose size
to skin color and height can affect their perceptions of themselves.
Gradually, a few women's voices are expressing
a determination not to become what Joan Jacobs Brumberg, author
of "The Body Project," calls an "appearance
Twenty-eight women emphasize the importance
of defining one's own identity in "Adios, Barbie: Young
Women Write About Body Image and Identity," edited by
Ophira Edut (Seal Press). In essays that are sometimes radical
and hard-edged, they reject narrow, media-driven standards
Lisa Jervis decides to keep "my Jewish
nose," rejecting an offer for cosmetic surgery. Leslie
Heywood, an athlete, struggles with the tension between femininity
and strength. Diane Sepanski overcomes "petite"
stereotypes by finding power in a strong voice.
Regina Williams, who began dieting in grade
school, defines the challenge this way: "Society is fickle.
One minute, you have to be curvy and voluptuous to be considered
attractive, the next minute your hip bones and rib cage have
to be showing to be one of the beautiful people." She
found a measure of freedom, she writes, when "I made
a conscious decision nearly seven years ago not to make someone
else's opinion my reality." (Marilyn Gardner)