"Athena- More On My Current Read: 'Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters'"-a post by Jessy.

"Athena--the Greek goddess of wisdom, efficiency, achievement, justice--is not a free and happy chick. She is, like so many of us who chase after our fathers' dreams, disconnected from her own body, self-hating, frustrated, and anxious about what feels like the ultimate and incessant distraction from work: soul. The perfect girl is Athena, marching on, checking items off her to-do list, making Dad proud with her grades and her vocabulary, without listening a lick to the starving daughter inside. We are so overwhelmed by the voices of our mothers that we try to tune them out entirely--listening only to the incessant drumbeat of the march of our fathers' measured lives...We forget that the bleeding and the lusting and the swelling of adolescence and womanhood contain complex if painful wisdom. These two parts of ourselves--the rational striver and the intuitive wanderer--need not be so cleaved...My generation of young women has repeatedly chosen the path of our fathers, the one we believed led to textbook achievement and less mess, but we are continually drawn across the field, to the winding path of our mothers..." (pp.77-78)

Upon reading this excerpt from the book, I nearly wept. When I was younger, I had a fascination for different religions and myths. The Greek gods were, for a time, my favorite vein of mythology...

I needed a nickname for myself because, at age 13, I was going to be a camp counselor at a local summer camp. I chose the name Athena, goddess of wisdom, peace, warfare, strategy, handicrafts and reason. She was also the companion to heroes. Myth has it that although Metis, the mother of Athena, was of an earlier generation of the Titans, Zeus (her father) became her consort when his cult gained dominance. In order to avoid a prophecy made when that change occurred, that any offspring of his union with Metis would be greater than he, Zeus swallowed Metis to prevent her from having offspring, but she already was pregnant with Athena. Metis gave birth to Athena and nurtured her inside Zeus until Athena burst forth from his forehead fully armed with weapons given by her mother. In Greek Myth, Athena never had a lover, thus her name "Athena Parthenos" or "Athena the Virgin."

I decided at a young age that I didn't want to be a mother, that I didn't want to be a homemaker. I decided that I wanted to always be free. I think I still struggle with this thought, though not consciously. I am afraid of letting go of the freedom, afraid of letting go of the power, afraid of letting go of the achievements, afraid to let go of the perfectionism- the proof that I am worthy...



"Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters"- a post by Lily.

Currently, Jessy and I are reading "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body" by Courtney E. Martin.  Jessy has already compiled many especially potent excerpts from this ground-shaking novel.  Martin addresses the fundamental issues that are contributing to one of the basic things that the whole of Western society lacks: BALANCE.

She breaks down many important matters that have led us down this precarious path, such as:

  • feminism
  • familial and relational influences 
  • the media and sex culture 
  • the reality of pornography and (fe)male attraction 
  • dieting and the eternal drive to "remake" our body 
  • the obesity "epidemic" 
  • atheletics and fitness obsession
  • college and post-college years
  • hungering for spirituality
I feel like I have so, so much to say in response to her earth-shattering viewpoints.  This book is written perfectly for my generation (Martin was 25 years old when this book was first published), as well as older open-minded thinkers and younger-yet-mature audiences.  She brings up some powerful subjects, that might make some squirm or protest, but her writing is well-researched and always addresses topics that are often glossed over (or made into some sort of psychological experiement).  This isn't just a book about the extremes of eating disorders, body image issues, and self-harm; this is a brilliant documentation of the affliction of an unbalanced, detached world.

Feel free to join Jessy and me, as we dissect our experiences and feelings while reading "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters" by Courtney E. Martin.  We will be posting our dialogue here, in various discussions, and welcome any responses or comments (no, seriously!).  Better yet, pick this book up at your local library or Amazon.com, and follow along with us!

Until next time, HAPPY READING!