Eve Ensler wrote and performed The Vagina Monologues, the vagina-empowerment play that is performed every February in college, community, and professional theaters across the word. Her new play, The Good Body, is about women’s body image issues: Women should “stop fixing their bodies and start fixing the world.”

That dredges up a few questions: What about obese people? Or drug addicts? Should they want to fix their bodies? Where does that old demon “the unattainable female beauty standard” come from? Are people suckers for buying into it? Are people who are dissatisfied with their bodies stupid? Her answers follow:

ON HER NEW PLAY, YOUR BODY IMAGE, AND THE PATRIARCHY

There are a couple of themes in the show—women throughout the world are fixing, lightening, tightening, whitening their bodies in order to be good in the way that’s been defined in terms of patriarchy, in terms of corporate consumer culture, in terms of religion. The play is a call to shift us from working to be good to focusing on being great, which would require being messy and round and outspoken and dangerous and not doing everything we’re supposed to do. Also, I’m doing this tour to promote the idea that women stop fixing their bodies and start fixing the world.

ON WHETHER OBESE AMERICANS—WHO ARE, ACCORDING TO THE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL, AT HIGHER RISK FOR STROKES, CANCER, AND HEART ATTACKS—SHOULD BE CONTENT WITH THEIR BODIES

We are living in a country that is insanely lonely. People are deeply isolated. They simply do not feel like they’re enough—pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough, famous enough. That self-hatred manifests itself in a variety of ways. They starve themselves or they stuff themselves. But the underlying energy is exactly the same.

You can’t treat your own personal self-hatred as if it’s a personal problem. It’s a cultural problem. It’s a political problem. We’re living in a country where the majority of citizens just feel awful about themselves. All the time. Try to engage that populace in political discourse or political action when they don’t even feel worthy of walking on the streets.

ON WHEN LIPOSUCTION’S OKAY

I’m not a person who’s against things—“liposuction bad/not liposuction good.” That’s reductionist. I’m interested in why we feel compelled to get liposuction. What’s the core of that? If you go and get liposuction and feel good about yourself and then you can go out and fight for the rights of women across the world, go for it! I don’t have an issue with the good or the bad in that, I have an issue with the obsessive-compulsive, heartbreaking campaign that seems endless. And how we stop it and redirect that energy so that women become fierce and powerful in the world.

ON THE AMERICAN FEMALE BODY IDEAL

Blonde, skinny, but with big breasts—Claudia Schiffer, because she’s perfect. I say that jokingly because everywhere I went in the world, I would ask who’s pretty and everyone would say “Claudia Schiffer, because she’s perfect.” I was going to call this play Claudia Schiffer, Because She’s Perfect.

ON HOW CLAUDIA SCHIFFER BECAME THE BODY IDEAL

It’s hard to get to the root. Yeah, but boy has it stuck. I traveled around the world and was just in Iceland, where I saw women who look like the prototype. You know, there are probably six of them in the entire world. When you travel the world, you see that 95 percent of the world is round and dark.

ON WHETHER THE ICELANDIC PROTOTYPES ARE HAPPIER THAN ROUND, DARK WOMEN

They just look like the women in Iceland. They don’t even think about it. [Laughs.]

ON WHERE PEOPLE GET THE IDEA THAT THEY SHOULD LOOK LIKE THE ICELANDIC PROTOTYPES

Obviously, it’s from the media. We see in magazines, movies, on television—where don’t we see it?

ON WHETHER PEOPLE ARE SUCKERS FOR BELIEVING THE HORSESHIT THEY SEE IN MAGAZINES

I don’t want to call people “suckers” because I don’t want to underestimate the power of this media imagery machine. It’s powerful stuff. If from the time you’re born you see this imagery day after day after day after day—go and try to overcome it! They did this study after 90210 was in Bali for three months: Eating disorders tripled. It’s powerful stuff. It looks like the people [on TV] are happy. That they’re fulfilled. That they’re successful. That they have everything you want. Who wouldn’t want that?

brendan@thestranger.com