Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Eat, Pray, Love: Too much stress on Western femininity for Elizabeth Gilbert

"Eat, Pray, Love" was written by Elizabeth Gilbert, a seemingly normal woman struggling against Western femininity stereotypes and hiding secrets of another life behind closed doors. I feel as though this book was written for more of a selfish reason than to simply make money. For this reason, I have more respect for Elizabeth Gilbert not only as an excellent writer but as a woman as well. Her journey into the unknown is what attracted me to this book because I think as Westerners, we are sometimes afraid of venturing into misunderstood territory. Ms. Gilbert teaches her audience that there is no need to fear the unknown because it may just save your life.

This book begins with Elizabeth lying on her bathroom floor during an emotional breakdown. She is trying to stifle her sobs because her husband is sleeping in the next room. This shows Ms. Gilbert's passive and fearful character at the beginning of her year-long journey. She has come to the realization that she doesn't want everything a young Westernized woman should want; she doesn't want to be married anymore and she doesn't want children. Her battle between the stereotypical American female and a woman going against all that is "right" in Western society is beautifully conveyed in the first few chapters of this book. Ms. Gilbert opens herself up to her audience in a very vulnerable way with her writing, but I think this works to her advantage because it creates a more personal relationship between writer and reader.

Ms. Gilbert decides to leave the Western world behind...her divorce, her job, her family. Realizing that she has not lost herself, but has never actually found who she truly is, she decides to travel to three countries to find the true meaning of being an individual. The title of this book, "Eat, Pray, Love" depicts the three goals of Ms. Gilbert. First, she travels to Italy, where her indulgences are fulfilled not only in the beauty of the country but in the passion of food and culture. Next, she travels to India, where she admitting herself into a spiritual rehabilitation, where the event of attaining true spirtuality is not something that happens easily. She is taught how to meditate and to look inside herself to find happiness. Finally, in Indonesia, Ms. Gilbert learns to live a simple life, which is definitely not something she was taught at home. She also learns to appreciate life and she starts relationships with people who live in the exact opposite way as Western society does. These relationships allow her to see a fresher perspective on her life.

Elizabeth Gilbert's view on life is drastically changed at the end of this book. She learns how to live in such a way that allows her to love herself without giving in to Western ideals of what a woman should be and how a woman should act. There is most definitely an underlying feminist tone that speaks to all genders, all ages and those from all walks of life. Personally, this book forced me to look past the stereotypical young female woman and we have all come to know and sometimes hate. I think the expectation of young Canadian/American women is too harsh and too outdated. We are still often viewed as trophies and baby breeding machines. This stereotype traps us, as women, because to stray anywhere from the ordinary is not always accepted. This is not to say that the progression that feminism has accomplished is not enough. In fact, I believe that we are speaking with voices that are stronger and louder today than at any other time in history because of the accomplishments of our bra-burning, raw-voiced ancestors. But, is it enough? Apparently Ms. Gilbert doesn't think so, and it is through this book that she stands up for refusing to be just another stereotype.
The ability to not lose sight of yourself in a society of stereotype is truly remarkable, especially on this wild, sometimes fearful rollercoaster ride of life.

Happy reading & Enjoy exploring!
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