A Poem for Women
Monday 19th November 2012

'A Poem for Women' is written by Lola Frears, and was released as a Body Gossip film in December 2012.

We always knew this would be a film which would divide its audience. The script tackles some incredibly dark subject matter in sing-song rhyming couplets. As a viewer at the Centre for Appearance Research Annual Conference described it “it’s like Dr Seuss takes-on all the sinister sides of dieting”.

The poem reflects a secret world a lot of women immediately understand but have never talked about before. It’s not about a diagnosed eating disorder, necessarily. It questions the dramatic risks a huge number women take with their health in order to achieve an entirely constructed, super-slim ‘ideal’. It directly questions the widely-accepted notion that to be thinner is automatically to have a better life, a message which is unapologetically hurled at us from almost every billboard, TV screen and internet site.

When we made the decision to use the script, we were immediately hyper-aware of the potential damage and criticism the film could incur. Easy viewing this aint. Lines such as “take laxatives or just throw up” had to be delivered with an appropriate amount of sarcasm, making it clear that this is not a “guide to extreme dieting” but rather an acerbic attack on a culture in which so many women are shortening their lives with extreme measures to lose weight, but would never dare to talk about it. This is why we used children’s TV presenter Cerrie Burnell and actress Natalie Cassidy so much during the film – the former’s natural sing-song delivery demonstrated perfectly the sarcasm inherent within the piece, whereas the latter is a fantastic comic.
 
A Poem for Women dares to venture where many will not. It acknowledges the real extent of the issue. And, dare we say it, it’s darkly humorous. Our celebrities performed the piece at the International Endangered Species Summit in 2011 and the audience laughed. They weren’t chuckling at the human suffering the piece portrayed, but at the ridiculousness of the picture it paints. For it is ludicrous, that so many of us daily make the choice to be miserable in a quest for eternal thinness rather than happy however we naturally, healthily are.

So often thinness is automatically equated with healthiness. Overweight people wear their issue like a badge. “I overeat” the badge says, whether this is factually accurate or not – It’s the assumption we all jump to. But the habits of the slim person are more subtle and it’s rare for us to acknowledge all the anguish, all the suffering and all the physical and emotional pain which might have lead them to their body shape. This isn’t to say that all slim people are unhealthy, we’re simply presenting the other side of the coin.

At Body Gossip we don’t censor our writers. If we believe a piece to be unhelpful or triggering we will not select it to be made into a film, theatre show or to be published in our book. Having said that, we are not afraid of controversy. We knew A Poem for Women would make uncomfortable viewing and would hold a mirror up to many women who heretofore have desperately tried to avoid their own reflection. But we also felt that needed to be done.

As predicted, reaction to the film has been mixed. Some find it upsetting. Others have applauded it as a powerful and inspiring piece. Whatever your view, there can be no doubt that the film has got people talking. And that is Body Gossip’s ultimate aim –– To get the nation thinking about and debating these issues.

 

Cast members of Body Gossip's film 'A Poem for Women'
Cast members of Body Gossip's film 'A Poem for Women'
Cast members of Body Gossip's film 'A Poem for Women'
Cast members of Body Gossip's film 'A Poem for Women'