Body Literacy and Linda Lovelace

I took a much needed sick day today. Waking up with a fever (with charting, you always know when you have a fever 😉 ) a stuffy head, and sore throat, I knew I’d be worthless at work. This means I spent all day on Netflix and Pinterest. One of the movies I watched was Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried as the famous Linda Lovelace of the controversial 1972 Deep Throat.


The movie was fantastic. But I don’t mean in an enjoyable way – it was very difficult to watch. The first half of the film you’re thinking, “What is this woman thinking? She’s acting completely clueless and brainless. How do you show up to a film set and not get freaked out when they ask you to perform oral on the main character in front of the camera??”

As the film reveals, she isn’t brainless – she is brainwashed by her abusive husband. Using the medium of film, this movie communicates this in more than one way. Prior to seeing this film, I knew a little about the Deep Throat scandal. The way this film was scripted and shot did a fantastic job of putting the viewer in Lovelace’s world. Even if you know the story behind her objectionable fame, you’re still very much engaged in her story.

Every woman knows what it’s like to feel insecure about her body. When the world is throwing impossible ideals out about body type, sexual experiences, and femininity, how could we not? (Can we please talk about how women are expected to be as hairless as a newborn? This really irritates me.) In the film, Linda’s insecurity was easy bait for an abusive man. While Chuck had his charms at first, he slowly clamped down his dominance and maltreatment to his wife.

How paradoxical that the woman labeled “The iconic poster child for the women’s sexual revolution” was doing it under the guise of coercion?

I kept thinking how could this have been prevented? How could Linda have gotten the courage to get out of this long before the abuse set in?

And the only answer I can think of is women knowing their value. Women knowing that sex doesn’t define that value. That when we objectify sex, we objectify the body. And that our bodies inherently have value. I could talk about how we are all made in the image and likeness of God, every last one of us, but just trust me ok? We’re precious.

If women knew they were valuable regardless of their sexual capabilities, how many hearts would be prevented from being broken? How many women would say no when they want to say no?

The answer to women’s liberation isn’t another product, believe it or not, not Jennifer Lawrence, and not even pharmaceutical advancements. The answer to women’s liberation is body literacy, and it starts at point A, ourselves. Body literacy is one of those words that gets thrown out there a lot without a clear definition. What is body literacy?

To me, body literacy is being in tune with our body’s needs and requirements to be healthy, thriving, and as well as we can while being respectful to our emotional and physical needs. Wow. A mouthful right? In other words, when I gained 10 pounds, my fertility charts were 1,000 times easier to read. My body is happier with those extra 10 pounds and yes, I even eat butter with my toast! When I don’t sleep well and drink alcohol more than usual, my acne flares up. My body communicates – hey! Drink more water and get more sleep. When I’m sick like today, I rest and take it easy. I take bubble baths and read my favorite books. I respond to and respect my body’s needs and that’s body literacy. I know, we think, if we don’t force our bodies into productivity 24/7 the world will stop functioning. As my priest said in mass last week, “Get over yourself. The world functioned just fine before you. And will function fine long after you pass. Stop glorifying your busyness.”

When body literacy is developed, I think it leads to body acceptance. Acceptance leads to love. I think modern society is attacking this whole “Women’s liberation” and “body image” from the complete wrong side. Telling women they are beautiful isn’t enough, they need to understand why they are beautiful. Something I don’t think women are encouraged to know. And as far as I see, the body image problem and especially women’s issues with sexuality and security won’t and can’t go anywhere until comprehensive body literacy is encouraged from the get go at a young age.

Until critical thinking and observant communication with our bodies is commonplace, women’s liberation is far from triumphed.


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