From fashion magazines to taboo Web sites, curious young women have access to tons of old wives’ tales about and thousands of airbrushed and inaccurate images of the female body—misinformation and harmful portrayals that can lead to low self-esteem, self-destructive acts, or even disturbing plastic surgery procedures. Teaming up with a leading physician specializing in adolescent health issues, Harvard graduate and former Miss Virginia Nancy Redd now offers a down-to-earth, healing, and reassuring response to those damaging myths. In Body Drama, Redd gives girls insight into the issues they’re often too ashamed to raise with a doctor or parent. She also reveals her own experiences with the culture of “American beauty,” and shows readers all the many versions of “normal.” From body hair and bras, to acne and weight issues, along with crucial issues such as the importance of a healthy self image, Body Drama is a groundbreaking book packed with informative fast facts, FYIs, how-tos, and moving personal anecdotes as well as hundreds of un-retouched photographs. A highly visual book, it’s the first of its kind for women: filled with real information and real photographs of real bodies, to celebrate all our different shapes and sizes.
Named by Glamour magazine as one of America’s top-ten college women “most likely to succeed—at anything,” Redd has spent the most recent years of her life on a mission to tackle the issues least discussed but most significant in young women’s lives. Celebrating the many versions of “normal,” and replacing seriously erroneous information with the honest, medically proven truth in a language all girls can understand, Body Drama dares to empower a new generation—with facts instead of fantasies, and the priceless gift of self-knowledge.
“Body Drama should be center stage in every young woman’s life. It will make you love every little thing about your body: your sags, you tags, your lumps, your bumps. It’s a book of liberation and it’s fun.”—Eve Ensler
“I love this book! It puts loving (and knowing) your body into words and pictures — you’ll find out yours isn’t so different after all. Body Drama has the answers you want to the questions you don’t know how to ask. Fun and frank, like talking to a good friend who knows absolutely everything and is willing to dish.”—Kim Gandy, President of the National Organization of Women
“In Body Drama, Nancy Redd combines the stylishness of Naomi Campbell, the vibe of your best friend, and photos you always wanted to see but were afraid to ask. An empowering, original, funny, and frank book, Body Drama is poised to become the modern girl’s Our Bodies, Ourselves.”—Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, authors of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future and Grassroots: A Field Guide to Feminist Activism.
“Body Drama…should be on the shelf of every family, school, and doctor in America.”—Nancy Brown, PhD, professor of Adolescent Sexuality at Stanford University, Senior Research Associate at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) Research Institute
“Demystifies female bodies and shows them as they really look: curvy, sometimes pimply and never perfect.”—Glamour magazine
Was I the only girl who grew hair in strange places? Found yucky stuff in my underwear? Had deep dents on my thighs? As a teen, I had no way of knowing if the day-to-day worries like bad breath, embarrassing nipple hair, ashy skin, or heavy cramps were normal, so I assumed I was the only one doomed to suffer from them. So, I decided to write Body Drama, the book I always wished I'd had.
How did your friends and family feel about it?
When I first planned this project, some people thought I was crazy (my mom was mortified), but as the book began to take form, my friends and family began to excitedly open up about their embarrassing body dramas…;things that even after decades of knowing each other, we'd been too ashamed to talk about. Who knew that one of my cousins dealt with chronic yeast infections, or that my college roomie once had a tampon stuck inside of her for three months? I wrote Body Drama so that we could all acknowledge, understand, and celebrate the fact that every body is different, and no matter what size and shape you are, you deal with body drama, and you are not alone!
You say you didn't feel comfortable with your body, even though you were a Miss America swimsuit winner (!). Why?
In flattering clothes and makeup, with my stomach sucked in and high heels on, I always thought that I looked great…;but underneath it all, I felt like my body couldn't compete with the flawlessly tiny and toned women that the media displays as “perfect.” For the longest time, I didn't know that a lot of models were surgically enhanced, or on starvation diets, or that their photographs were often digitally altered. But even after I found out, I still felt inferior, because I never saw anyone who looked like me naked being touted as beautiful. Now, having photographed dozens of women of all shapes and sizes, I've seen glimpses of my body parts on many different beautiful young women, and I feel much more comfortable with myself. These real-deal, unairbrushed, and unaltered images are in Body Drama, and I hope that they will have the same effect on others who are struggling with their own self-image!
Why did you decide to do the vulva spread?
Vulvas (AKA vaginas, hoo-has, or as Oprah says, vajayjays) get a lot of talk time, but never any face time! So much discussion goes into what is and isn't normal down there, but without any photos to back the conversations up—only diagrams and illustrations that don't even resemble the real deal! Nearly every teen I talked to about her body was ashamed of how she looked down there, sometimes because of an insensitive comment from a sexual partner, but mostly because she'd never seen another vulva and didn't know how they were supposed to look. I decided it was time to give vulvas (the proper name for what's actually visible down there) their fair share of camera time to prove there isn't one “normal” vajayjay!
What's the most important advice you want to give to young women? And their mothers?
To talk! No matter how cringe-worthy the subject, or how worried you are about how what you say will be construed, you've got to get your issues, concerns, and problems out in the open, because it's much more damaging and troublesome to keep your troubles inside, and it's even worse to pretend like they don't exist. My mom and I are the best of friends, but we never had “the talk,” nor did she share any of her personal body dramas with me, which left me at a total disadvantage growing up. If she had only told me what the good, the bad, and the ugly of what was to be expected as a woman, I could have saved myself a lot of stressing out. Now, we go through Body Drama together, and when we come to many of the issues that were previously off-limits for conversation, I'm shocked to hear her candidly discuss how they relate to her and her experiences! Hopefully Body Drama can be that same kind of conversation-starter for more young women and their mothers, friends, and role models.