Monster/Beauty: Building the Body of Love
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This daring, intensely personal book challenges both conventional and feminist ideas about beauty by asking us to take pleasure in beauty without shame, and to see and feel the erotic in everyday life. Bringing together her varied experiences as a poet, art historian, bodybuilder, and noted performance artist, Joanna Frueh shows us how to move beyond society's equation of youth with beauty toward an aesthetic for the fully erotic human being.
A lush combination of autobiography, theory, photography, and poetry, this book continues to develop the ideas about the erotic, beauty, older women, sex, and pleasure that Frueh first addressed in Erotic Faculties. Monster/Beauty examines these issues using a provocative, often explicit, set of examples. Frueh admiringly looks at the bodies and mindsets of midlife female bodybuilders, rethinks the vampire, and revises our ideas about traditional models of beauty, such as Aphrodite. Above all, she boldly brings her personal experience into the text, weaving her reflections on female sensuality with contemporary theory.
These linked essays are as much a performance as they are a discussion, breaking down the barriers between the personal and the academic, and the erotic and the intellectual. Frueh writes passionately and beautifully, and the result is a much-needed exploration of beauty myths and taboos.
beasts into close approximations of white women, or beauties” (). Rooks’s discussion throughout Hair Raising implicitly conjures up the African American woman as a monster if she does not approximate whiteness with her hair texture. . Gail Vines, Raging Hormones: Do They Rule Our Lives? (Berkeley: University of California Press, ), challenges the notion that women are hormonal “monsters” whose biology needs to be medically controlled. Susan Bordo, Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western
signify red highlights in the original text” (). Ibid., . Ibid., , . Pacteau writes, “In an essay of , examining the status of all the ‘Lauras’ of ﬁfteenth-century poetry, Mario Pozzi has traced what may be called the ‘evacuation’ of the woman to the level of the poetic discourse itself ” (). Ibid., . Seid, “Too ‘Close to the Bone,’ ” . Wolf, Beauty Myth, , ‒. “Body of content” was a phrase used by bodybuilding philosopher Al Thomas in a conversation with me in May
February Vogue story by a thirtysix-year-old woman about her Botox treatment for a “brow . . . indelibly etched with squint and frown lines,” to be daring explorations of the beauty problem.6 Rather, they reinforce the beauty ideal and often, more particularly, its ageism. Popular confession-and-transformation narratives may give the impression of open speech but are simply anecdotal commonplaces, for they lack a complex presentation of the beauty problem and models of contestation that are
we know one another’s writing 8 Frueh_text 11/7/00 10:16 AM Page 9 INTRODUCTION more than we know one another. Live, she fascinates me. We talk for way too short a time—I want more of her—and ﬁnd seats together at a session. I’m excited to be in her aesthetic/erotic ﬁeld. Hours later, after attending diﬀerent sessions, we are in the same auditorium. She is diagonally several rows in back of me. I look at her when she asks questions of the speakers, and I want to keep looking at her long
own monster/beauty. I was thirty-two and had recorded a rehearsal of my ﬁrst performance art piece. Grimaces, snarls, laughs, gleaming and swinging hair, a mellow and melodic voice, and a robust slender body energized with eros, with strong and graceful pleasure in itself, jolted me out of a lifelong unwillingness and inability to testify to my attractiveness. Because I was watching myself and not looking at some celebrity, I observed and felt what I saw with intimate attentiveness and knowledge: