“IT WAS PERFECT”: DESIRE, CORPOREALITY, AND DENIAL IN DARREN ARONOFSKY’S BLACK SWAN
The acquisition of a corporeal sense of self, central to the formation of a balanced identity, is often barred in the Western world by women’s internalization of somatophobia. Drawing on theories of gender and corporeality, my contribution focuses on the representation and implications of eating disorders and deliberate self-harm practices as portrayed in Darren Aronofsky’s feature film Black Swan (2010). Protagonist Nina Sayers is rendered as a perfectionist workaholic whose compulsions include scratching and peeling off her skin. Her yearning for professional success is but an extra burden over and above her virginal sexual repression and her claustrophobic family environment.
My main contention is that, beyond the psycho-sexual thriller cliché and the rather obvious metalepses between film and ballet, Aronofsky’s movie can be read as a denunciation of the lethal struggle some women undergo in their desperate attempts to transcend both their corporeality and the negative values attached to the female body, i.e. as that which clutters the mind with hungers and desires, barring them from “perfection.”
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