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Local author’s book focuses on women, body image and self-love

Louise Pollock Gruenebaum

“Beyond the Underwire: Confessions of the Well Endowed,” by Louise Pollock, (Aug. 25, 2015); available through Amazon: Paperback, $9.99; Kindle edition, $5.99 (80 pages)

You see it everywhere — TV, social media, movies, magazines — women who feel they must look a certain way in order to be attractive. Local author Louise Pollock Gruenebaum has written a book — penned under her maiden name Pollock — about, shall we say, the upper part of women’s bodies and the way women feel about themselves based on size.

“The book is geared about women for women and it’s not a book about just the body; it’s about the female perspective, the whole human condition,” she says. “Society promotes female stereotypes that encourage women to have unrealistic expectations of their body types. Women are conditioned to strive to be what the media tells them is attractive in order to feel loved and accepted from an early age.

“Different countries promote different degrees of perfection concerning the female physique.”

“Beyond the Underwire: Confessions of the Well Endowed,” is for mature women and, it could be said, rated PG-13. Pollock Gruenebaum collected stories from women over a period of many years, keeping them in a folder and adding to them when she met someone who wanted to share an interesting life experience. She spoke with them about their personal journey to self-love.

She says she was flattered that these women trusted her enough to pour their hearts out to her. And when she heard these women’s stories, she knew she wanted to write this book.

“I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like this so I wrote it. I spent many years thinking about it, interviewing women who had a particular story, young and old, different demographics, single, married, different ages and how they feel about their anatomy, men, siblings and parents, and their lives as they matured,” she says. “And what happened to them early on. Because it’s very important how women view themselves starting when they are young. That’s the most impressionable part of women’s lives.”

Some women in the book had breast reductions, reconstruction from breast cancer and some had breast enhancements. Pollock Gruenebaum says that’s the whole parody of the female perspective according to what they think a man wants, what they feel is important.

“We live in a world where obviously the media tends to brainwash people to what they think is beautiful instead of loving themselves from the inside out and I think you get more of a feeling of that as you mature,” she says. “God is like a painter who gives us a palate of body and soul that’s unique, ours alone as we take the journey of life feeling confident and happy with our attributes.”

What is it saying about our society when girls in high school are getting breast enhancements, questions Pollock Gruenebaum. She says with social media being what it is, it’s becoming even more pronounced because you can force certain images onto very young girls. In addition, reality shows are taking what’s popular on the coast and bringing it to the heartland.

“Coming from the ’60s and ’70s when the female body was more androgynous — remember Twiggy? — everyone wanted to be flat-chested and now everyone wants to be curvy and large,” she explains. “It’s just the pendulum swinging back, but it’s the same falsehoods. It doesn’t matter how you’re built; it’s how you view yourself and how you want to go through life loving yourself and then people will accept the inner you.

“A woman has to think of her self-identity, the importance of herself and learn to love herself, not pleasing the opposite sex, their partners or the media and what they think people tell them to do to keep up. That’s the journey women have to make and that’s why I wrote the book.”

Women tend to associate love with the visual, says Pollock Gruenebaum, because that’s mostly what the media does and women and girls pick that up along the way.

“It just becomes a poison and it causes a lot of depression,” she says. “That’s kind of another aspect that comes out in the book when you talk to these women and hear their stories. I’ve learned that it’s just a human condition that all women feel insecure.”

Media does have a tremendous influence on women, which promotes society’s biased view on physical appearances promoting a certain way they should look in order to be loved, accepted, beautiful and intelligent, Pollock Gruenebaum says.”But perhaps that’s beginning to change by the very media that has infused in women the idea of an ideal body.

“Now I’m seeing even young people in their 20s becoming a lot stronger in their identity and they’re also more savvy than women from my generation,” she says. “I think it’s just a whole social media thing; they’re just more sophisticated.”

Pollock Gruenebaum is a freelance writer living in Prairie Village with her husband Dr. Steve Gruenebaum. They are members of The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah.