My Body

Margreth Olin

Norway 2002.

At any point in her life up to now, she has had – according to some people – at least one unpleasant bodily detail that ‘had to be dealt with’. Oddly (or sadly) enough, at other times in her life there were people who found these very same body parts nice, charming, and sexually pleasurable. The first were women. The second were men. “Thank god for the other gender,” she concludes.

Margreth Olin’s film is what the title says it will be: a private, visual enterprise that combines private footage with intentional documenting and reconstruction, resulting in a personal history structured around a number of body-related, externally induced and healed anxieties.

For contemporary viewers, ‘post’lots-of-things (women’s liberation included), and currently floating somewhere between ‘lipstick’ ‘feminism’ and ‘fluffragettes’, there are a number of familiar, if not too well-known, issues recalled by Olin’s film. Among them, the idea that, well-intentioned or not, families can be a major source of body-image-related stress. Also that, after a long-term consumption of patriarchy, women have finally internalized their corsets. Olin deals exclusively with her own device but touches on the broader picture by pointing out a number of controlling discourses relative to body image that circulate both within and outside the family.

The central topic and style (fragmentary, hesitant, playful, including moments of assumed camera-consciousness) allow for the film’s inclusion in the rich tradition of the (auto-)‘biopics’ made by women, particularly during recent decades. In this context, *My body works very well as a light, funny, introduction to a body-focused seminar in Women’s Studies. To what extent men will be interested in attending such a seminar is open to question: my feeling is that the film fails to ring any other bells than the gender-specific ones.

As for women viewers who might be slightly annoyed by certain aspects of the film, the annoyance is in no way Olin’s fault. It merely derives from the fact that the film deals with an issue that keeps being approached, told and retold with no actual, corset-bursting effect. In other words, “You may have come a long way, baby, but your body is – still – a battleground.’

In this context, Olin’s film is a good reminder to other clothed-in-black, expert stomach-holders that at some point, we will all discover our own and learn to love our bodies through thick and thin. Particularly after we discover ourselves with a much younger body attached, and the menu apparently includes the option to socialize it differently.

Modern Times Review