Jan 7, 2014
08:53 AM
Connecticut Today

Wesleyan Student's Gender Inequality Video 'Shrinking Women' a Viral Sensation

Wesleyan Student's Gender Inequality Video 'Shrinking Women' a Viral Sensation

A screen shot of Lily Myers from her YouTube video of her poem "Shrinking Women."

Back in September, when Wesleyan University president Michael S. Roth became aware of student Lily Meyers’ masterfully familial gender-inequality-thrashing poem “Shrinking Women,” a YouTube video of Myers performing it at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational last spring had “almost 150,000 VIEWS!!!!!!!,” according to a note Roth received from 2013 graduate Evan Okun.

“Her piece exemplifies Wesleyan’s progressive thinking, innovative writing, and emotional honesty when it comes to Slam Poetry,” wrote Okun, whose note was posted by the Wesleyan president on his blog, Roth on Wesleyan.

“Now since Evan was such an exemplar of passionate, practical idealism, I couldn’t wait to hear Lily’s poem. I think he’s absolutely right. No?,” the university president said in offering the video of Myers on his blog.

That video of her impassioned recital of “Shrinking Women,” which opens with imagery of her mother drinking “red wine out of a measuring glass” and develops the theme, “The women in my family have been shrinking for decades,” went viral—and now has 3.44 million views. The latest status was noted in a story online by the ct mirror.

And why wouldn’t “Shrinking Women” have such an impact; Myers is articulate, passionate, engaging—and provocative: “I asked five questions in a genetics class today and all of them started with the word sorry.” It was a line that drew huge applause at the poetry slam.

Ironically, perhaps, “Shrinking Women" won the award for Best Love Poem.

A Nov. 19 blog about Myers and the poem at The Jewish Daily said the video had about 2 million views at that point. In the interview, Meyers—a sociology major at Wesleyan—said, in part, “I used eating in this poem as a way to show a more ingrained way we shrink. Frustrated with ways I would shrink. I would not say something that was on my mind, not take control of a situation. I saw other women around me doing the same thing, like men sort of call the shots and dictate the relationship. Once I began to write, I really started to reflect in a more critical way.” (Read more of the interview at The Jewish Daily)

Myers, Class of ’15, was also featured in a November piece on The Wesleyan Argus, Empowerment Takes Form: Lily Myers and Kate Weiner Start Feminist Blog, which notes that Myers spent the fall semester of 2013 studying in Argentina.

In that story, Myers recounts experiencing the news that she had become an Internet sensation while in Argentina: “It was really weird, because I was traveling in the north of Argentina with my group, like in the desert, with no phone or Internet or anything for 10 days. So we got back to a hostel in a small city, and there was really intermittent Internet, and I checked my email, and I had, like, a bajillion emails. Then I was like, “Oh. This happened.”

And she also addressed issues that extend from her thoughts in “Shrinking Women,” saying in part,  “I also think that if you’re healthy and normal, and you have a thigh gap, I don’t want to shame you for having that, you know? But it’s this obsession with it. There’s this fetishization of it, as though having a thigh gap will somehow bring you happiness. It’s this weird tangling of how you’ll feel when you achieve this “body.” I don’t even think a body should be framed as an achievement.” See the full Argus story online.

 

Wesleyan Student's Gender Inequality Video 'Shrinking Women' a Viral Sensation

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