March 2017


Joi Lansing:
A Body to Die For
by Alexis Hunter
Book Review By: Donna Destri

Our culture has always placed too much emphasis on feminine beauty. Men seem to be "permitted" to age gracefully, while women must strive to remain youthful and vibrant. In the 40's and through the 60's, the Hollywood studio system strictly enforced this double standard as well as the ideal of the perfect female, with studio heads forcing their female stars to remain slim with the use of pills, strict exercise and diet regimens. Non compliance would mean lack of work. One would imagine the pressure for an aging female star to remain relevant in a world that placed such emphasis on the female form must have been enormous. It is no surprise then that some female stars filled their bodies with harmful silicone injections. Realistically, there was little choice. Joi Lansing, a blonde bombshell who rivaled Marilyn, Jayne and Mamie in beauty was a tragic example of this terrible double standard in Hollywood. Ms. Hunter's tale is a cautionary one but it is also an important one. Hers is a book that all young women should read for it teaches a lesson about the dangers of body dysmorphia and low self-esteem. Young girls of all shapes and sizes should feel beautiful for who they are rather than how their exteriors are perceived. While the book does, at the end, take us down a painful road (it's difficult not to cry as we witness Joi's illness and impending death), there are wonderful moments of levity as well. We see a hopeful, young Hunter going to Hollywood to be a star and ironically, becoming friends with the star that she had secretly admired as a girl. In Lansing, we see a real woman with real fears and vulnerabilites...as opposed to the platinum goddess she was meant to portray on screen. That said, the book is important for another and somewhat bigger reason that is also relevant in our time. Ms. Hunter, in telling us of her brief but wonderful time with Joi, reminds us that ALL love is perfect and perfection transcends gender roles.


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