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Beautiful Body 

click to enlarge 'rie Shontel
  • 'rie Shontel

In a week where radio talker Rush Limbaugh saw fit to note that First Lady Michelle Obama "does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue," perhaps it is appropriate to again begin the conversation on the damaging and distorted American view of what constitutes a healthy female body. Okay. Who wants to start?

On Thursday, Feb. 24 and Friday, Feb. 25, journalist and actress 'rie Shontel (pronounced "Ree," born Anita Morgan-Woodley) will bring her provocative one-woman show about black female body image titled Mama Juggs: Three Generations Healing Negative Body Images to HSU's Studio Theatre (second floor of the Theatre Arts Building). Both shows start at 8 p.m. and are free.

The characters in Juggs are an amalgamation of three generations of women in Shontel's family who inspired her growing up. Her mother -- from whom the "‘rie" nickname is derived -- died of breast cancer in 1998 at 47 years old. When her great-grandmother passed away at age 100 in 2008, ‘rie wanted to celebrate their influence and crafted the Mama Juggs character who dwells in East Oakland's housing projects known as "Funk Town."

The show questions cultural taboos within the black community while featuring discussion of late-puberty bra stuffing and a cappella songs about the frustrations of breastfeeding passed down from ‘ries' great-grandmother Suga Babe. A "talk back" session with Shontel follows each show. Shontel doesn't hold back -- promotional material for the performance warns of "adult language."

For those interested, ‘rie will also participate in a discussion of her work and experiences on Friday before the show from 3-4 p.m. in the Squad Room of the Communications Department. For more info, visit rieshontel.blogspot.com.

 

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Andrew Goff

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