As a 15-year-old girl, it is so easy to be taken in by the burdens of girlhood. You are automatically categorized into stereotypes, and begin to feel pressures from your peers, the media, and society to mold into a blueprint of the perfect girl. We absorb so much of our surrounding influences, it is easy to find yourself feeling lost and emotional. In Emotional Creature, playwright and activist Eve Ensler teaches us to love these emotions and utilize them. The show, playing off-Broadway at the Pershing Square Signature Center, is based on Eve's interviews and addresses the joys and struggles of girls throughout the globe. Emotional Creature had me laughing and crying as it addressed topics like Facebook profile pictures and Barbies, to the heart wrenching mistreatment of adolescent girls throughout the world in places such as Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Eve Ensler, a longtime activist and Obie-award winning author of The Vagina Monologues and other plays, coincidentally founded V-Day, a global anti-violence movement, at my dining room table. I wasn't really quite present at the time, because I was in my mother's uterus (my mother is Marianne Schnall, an activist, writer, and founder of the women's non-profit Feminist.com). I like to consider myself a "V-Baby"! Because of her close relationship with my mom, Eve has always been a constant presence and influence in my life. Growing up as a feminist since birth, I was completely aware of the ongoing pressures towards girls. So many young women are consumed by insecurities -- it becomes very easy to feel inadequate in our modern society. This past weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to ask members of the cast of Emotional Creature how they personally deal with and try to escape these struggles.
Jazmin with Emotional Creature cast - from left: Emily S. Grosland, Molly Carden, Sade Namei, Jazmin, Ashley Bryant, Olivia Oguma and Courtney Thomas
Jazmin Kay: One thing that really stuck out to me during the show was when a character said they felt "insignificant." I know many people, especially young girls, battle with becoming and being comfortable with themselves -- what's your advice for finding your worth?
Molly Carden: I think probably the most important thing for me in my journey of finding out who I am, is being comfortable with not knowing who I am, which is a big part of who I am -- I believe in chaos and questions and living in that sort of space, and being comfortable with that. There is something forceful about, "Find out who you are! Be who you are so that you can show the world! And they'll see who you are!" And that is kind of paradoxical because then you're just trying to please people all over again... I think that self acceptance and self love are really good words in terms of what you're talking about, the energy behind it.
Sade Namei: I think the interesting thing is once you progress, you never go back -- you might feel like you're digressing, like I thought I was over my body issues, but it might be actually you have improved but you might not realize it. I still have body issues, but I know that I have them, so I am able to notice the thoughts that are not helpful to me. Once you improve there's no going back -- it's like a light at the end of the tunnel.
Courtney Thomas: I think I've had this experience where I've reached a point of feeling self worth and self confidence, and people find that as entitlement, or as something bad, and it's not at all -- it's my own journey that I'm on. So be patient with others as they come into their own, and surround yourself with people who speak positivity and love and encouragement, because once that track starts running in your mind, it's almost impossible to break it.
Ashley Bryant: I think for me I find a lot of joy and a lot of strength in believing in something greater than myself, whether that means, an art form, or God or nature, or the universe or Buddha -- whatever you call it -- something greater than ourselves, and greater than those you come into contact with. Not that people that you come into contact with are less, but that there is just something greater than it all. That just helps me in the way that I view it, to know that I am meant to be here, it is so purposeful, so even when I'm having a bad day, I know that my existence is on purpose. And if I wasn't supposed to here I just simply wouldn't be. And so I am, so I must be important.
Molly Carden: I think one of the things the show has taught me and I think about it a lot, is the idea that you have to love all of yourself. And I think sometimes with women without realizing it you say, I love this part of myself, I love my intelligence and my beauty and I love this -- but then there's another part that you don't love. But you have to love all of yourself and then when you do that you can love other people fully and appreciate life fully.
Emotional Creature closes January 13 but will likely have other performances at other venues in the future. You can stay updated and find out more at www.emotionalcreature.com. I highly recommended all to see it, and experience the exquisite passion and empowerment, by an extraordinary cast!