Book Review: Box Girl by Lillibet Snellings
Lillibet Snellings once had a job as unique as her name: for three years in a West Hollywood hotel lobby, she was one of the scantily clad women who lounged in a transparent box for four to seven hours as eye candy. ‘Lounge’ is actually misleading, since all the positions caused discomfort (she provides a hilarious description of the many options, such as the Nutcracker, which was devised to mask the fact that she was menstruating). The project, which began in 1998, is billed as an art installation, and within the box, the Box Girl is surrounded by installations that change monthly, such as pesky paper airplanes that fly into her face, thanks to a fan.
Snellings recounts her experiences in Box Girl: My Part-time Job as an Art Installation (2014, Soft Skull Press). Some chapters are as short as a single sentence, and they appear out of chronological order, making it what she calls a hybrid of sorts. Her interview for the Standard Hotel, for instance, occurs half-way through the book. She makes quite a few diversions from the act of being in the box, and though it seems like stream of consciousness, she consistently brings the content back to being a girl on display.
People’s reactions run the gamut, but the most startling to the author is a man asking if she is for sale. Experiences like these lead to feminist commentary broaching serious subject matter—such as comparisons to Hooters, a Playboy Club, and Amsterdam’s Red Light District—but never at the expense of her lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek writing style. When she inquires about the background of the box, she learns that it is a man who is responsible for the Standard Hotel’s design concepts. She quips, “Of course he is a man. This manufactured reality could only be hatched from the head of a man. Men like to think that women lie around on their living room floors wearing itty-bitty white shorts and tiny white tank tops, always looking pretty, never making a mess” (p. 81). That is the extent of the rant. Her biography brings the theory of art historian/author John Berger to life without dwelling on theory, which makes the book great leisure reading. Although she touches on feminism throughout, she doesn’t take a firm stand. To her question, “Am I a piece of art or a piece of ass?” (p. 220), she concludes maybe neither, or maybe both. What matters to her is that she feels empowered.
In this coming of age tale, Snellings describes her transition from English graduate to the real world, cobbling together internships and freelancing in her field with a variety of LA-type jobs like part-time model and actor. Even though she moved across the country from Connecticut with friends and is essentially on her own, her attachment to her family is undeniable. Her parents, who are bewildered by her hotel gig, are polar opposites and even when she writes about them with frustration, her underlying love is clear.
In spite of brushes with fame that come with the territory, Snellings’ focus is on her many foibles. She writes with the flare of Helen Fielding, she of Bridget Jones fame, though with more introspection. From crying in the box on Valentine’s Day, to getting an asymmetrical mullet in a hair show, to having a photo of herself rejected from a magazine featuring a spread on ‘real people,’ she channels Jones’ goofiness and bad luck. Also reminiscent of Fielding’s protagonist is her love of wine and her obsession with her weight (case in point: she beams when an onlooker questions whether or not she is real, since mannequins do not have cellulite). Snellings’ self-deprecation would be more convincing if her bio photo didn’t reveal that by all accounts, she is beautiful. To her credit, Snellings reveals that it’s all relative, living as she does in the capital of models and celebrities.
Interspersed with the ‘OMG, I can’t believe this is my life’ track are astute observations about culture. For instance, Snellings draws parallels between the voyeurism and artifice of the Box Girls and 2.0 culture. And the few art references she includes are spot on, like connecting Manet’s Olympia to the fact that eye contact is verboten for Box Girls, or seeing Box Girls as performance artists in the spirit of Marina Abramovic. There are witticisms throughout, but blink and you could miss them, because she doesn’t draw them out, instead maximizing punchiness. I can’t shake the feeling that the sparing revelation of her intellect combined with her comical self-deprecation reflects the message women have been given historically: that they shouldn’t appear too smart. Nonetheless, Box Girl: My Part-time Job as an Art Installation is highly recommended.
Cover courtesy of Soft Skull Press.
CLPP’s annual Conference April 10-12 2015: From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom!
It’s that time of year again—time to submit a proposal to present your work at CLPP’s annual conference, From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom!
For over 30 years, CLPP has been working to realize a world in which all people have the economic, social, and political power necessary to make healthy decisions about our bodies, families, sexuality, and reproduction. Our annual conference brings together activists and academics from across the U.S. and the world to share ideas and information, inspiring and supporting thought, reflection, growth, and collaboration across communities and generations. We know that you are engaged in amazing organizing, movement building, scholarship, and activism around reproductive justice in your community and we want to hear about it!
I hope you’ll check out our Call for Proposals and think about sharing your work with us this April 10-12 in Amherst, MA. Is there a training or conversation about reproductive justice that you want to lead? Are you involved in media-making for social change that you want to share? Do you want to share strategies for grassroots organizing? Let us know about your current activism, your expertise and experiences, and what you can contribute to the conference!
Join us in our planning process by submitting a proposal for a presentation, interactive workshop, or strategic action session. The deadline for proposals is September 26th.
We can’t wait to hear about your reproductive justice activism, organizing, and research. Please tell your friends and fellow activists about the call, and save the date for next year’s conference:
From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom
29th annual conference for student and community activists
April 10-12, 2015
Hampshire College, Amherst, MA
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Register for The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute’s Six-Week Group for Eating and Body Image Problems. BEGINS SEP 23
Beginning on Tuesday, September 24th, sessions will be held from 7:30pm to 9:00pm at Fifth Avenue and 11th Street. Christina Clark, LCSW, will facilitate this group. The fee for all six sessions is $275.
The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute (WTCI) is renowned for its pioneering work on women’s relationship to food, feeding, and their bodies. Since the publication of Susie Orbach’s Fat Is A Feminist Issue (1978), the faculty of The WTCI has further developed a theory and practice of working with the full range of eating problems, explicated in Eating Problems: A Feminist Psychoanalytic Treatment Model (1994). We have found that our unique six-week groups can be a powerful tool for women as they journey toward a place of peace in their relationship with food and their bodies. (Please read below for a more detailed description of the group model.)
Groups are facilitated regularly in various locations in and around New York City throughout the year.
To obtain further information about our groups please visit our website www.wtci-nyc.org, or call Joanne Messina, LCSW at (212) 501-6033. To register, click HERE. We encourage early registration, as groups can fill up quickly!
Six-Week Groups for
Eating and Body Image Problems
In a therapist-led supportive environment, participants in our six-week groups are introduced to the process of relating more comfortably to food and one’s body. The diet culture has caused most women to become disconnected from their innate ability to feed themselves in accordance with bodily appetite and in a way that is emotionally nourishing, as well as physiologically and psychologically organizing and sustainable. Our six-week groups help women rediscover this lost relationship with their bodies and needs. Because we regard all eating problems as expressive of the emotional and social struggles women experience, these groups are designed to work effectively with the continuum of problematic eating, from compulsive and binge eating, to anorexia, bulimia, and chronic dieting. Our groups are open to women of all colors, sizes, sexual orientations and identities. Our only requirement for participation is an interest in developing a more harmonious relationship with food and one’s body.
Our six-week groups combine psychoeducational and psychodynamic elements to give women the tools and insights they will need to begin to understand, heal, and transform their relationship with food and their bodies. Exploration, fantasy exercises, and homework assignments are utilized in each phase of the group to encourage participants to personalize and internalize the group experience.
The group begins with an introduction to our ”self-attuned” model of eating, which is anti-diet and mindfulness based. Participants are helped to use this model to eat with their hunger and to stop at fullness, while examining why they might feel compelled to eat at times when they are not physically hungry and/or to restrict their eating during times when they are. The group also attends to the complex emotional experience of satiety/fullness and how one can begin to register satisfaction and bodily limits in the eating experience with increased ease and security. The self-attuned model introduces curiosity and compassion as alternatives to the punitive and restrictive methods women typically employ in their efforts to change their relationships with food and their bodies.
Next, the group focuses on legalizing all foods and eliminating dichotomous thinking about food, such as good and bad, healthy and unhealthy, or permitted and forbidden food groups. Finally, the group addresses issues of body image and embodiment, including the symbolic meaning of fat and thin and how one’s ideas about and experiences of one’s body function psychologically, interpersonally, and culturally.
All phases of the group’s work are informed by a psychodynamic perspective and by the conscious and explicitly articulated awareness that we live in a culture that encourages women to live in disharmony with their bodies and that, for most, an embodied life requires an active choice to resist cultural norms.
Registration is very limited for our groups and workshops, and an event will be closed if over-enrolled and canceled if under-enrolled; please register early.
May 13: V-Day Congo Director & Director of City of Joy Christine Schuler Deschryver, in conversation with Eve Ensler
On Tuesday, May 13, V-Day and ABC Home are so proud to present a new RISE4JUSTICE event with V-Day Congo Director & Director of City of Joy Christine Schuler
V-DAY HAS A SELECT AMOUNT OF $10 ACTIVIST TICKETS AVAILABLE!
Simply email RSVP@VDAY.ORG with your name and number of tickets you require.
WHAT: V-Day Congo Director & Director of City of Joy Christine Schuler
WHEN: Doors at 6pm, event from 6:30pm – 8:30pm
WHERE: Deepak Homebase at ABC Carpet & Home
888 Broadway at East 19th Street, NYC
TICKETS: $10 Activist Tickets – email email@example.com
100% of proceeds will go to the City of Joy in Bukavu, DRC
In 1909 Samara, Russia, Alexe Popova confessed to killing over 300 men to ‘liberate’ the women of her community from their abusive husbands. She fought the War on Women in her own way, with a little lethal poison! Based on this true story, Talie Melnyk’s solo show, ‘Maison des Reves’ plays at Paradise Factory in this year’s Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, New York City’s eco friendly/socially conscious not-for-profit festival.
Wednesday, 5/21 @ 7pm
Friday, 5/23 @ 7pm
Saturday, 5/24 @ 4pm
64 E 4th St. (b Bowery & 2nd Ave.)
New York, NY 10003
For tix visit: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/933526
For more info:
What’s Developing in a World in Crisis?
A conversation with Lois Holzman & Jacqueline Salit
Friday, June 6, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
NYU School of Law, Vanderbilt Hall, Classroom 220
40 Washington Square S. (betw. Macdougal & Sullivan Sts.)
(Early registration $40; Retired/Student/Low Income $20)