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Anything but entertaining

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dear Ms. Caudle, (“Exhibit Indeed” Sept. 8)

Did you even go see the “Thin” exhibit at the Snite? I’m going to guess no, because if you did, I don’t think you would have said that the museum is “equating a deadly mental illness with mere entertainment.” I visited the exhibit last Saturday, and I am hard-pressed to think of a less “entertaining” experience. It was, however, a thought-provoking, sobering, and reflective experience.

In your letter you accuse the artist and the Snite of “fuel[ing] the obsession … with dieting, exercise, and body image.” On the contrary, I would say that the frank and horrifying portrayal of real women struggling from eating disorders encourages the viewer to take a step back and really consider how they view their own bodies and how much our own culture skews our perceptions of beauty and self-worth. Leaving the exhibit, I was at a loss for words, but powerfully and deeply touched. Far from trivializing these important issues as mere “entertainment,” “Thin” brings the reality of eating disorders face-to-face with the viewer, to the point where it’s almost unbearable.

Through “Thin”, these forgotten women were able to speak directly to the viewer about their lives, their hopes, and their struggles. There was nothing entertaining, objectifying, or exhibitionist about “Thin.” I think your ire might be more properly directed at shows like “America’s Next Top Model,” where size 10 is “plus-size” and girls who probably wear a size 5 (max!) are told they are need to lose weight.

P.S. Since when is art equated with entertainment? When Picasso painted Guernica was he trivializing the Spanish Civil War and the innocents who died, or was he trying to show the world the horrors of war? At its best, art holds a mirror up to life. Sometimes, life isn’t pretty. Exhibits like “Thin” show us what we are unwilling to see about our society and ourselves; forcing contemplation of these issues in our own lives.

Molly PiepersophomorePasquerilla West HallSept. 8