Entertainment » Culture

About Women

by Beth Dugan
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Aug 10, 2015
About Women
  (Source:Carrie Reffit )

Nikki Nigl (rhymes with eagle) started her "ABOUT WOMEN" series just over a year ago and immediately it connected with her target audience, women. This female (all ages welcome) and female-identified only event went from once a month with a rotating topic, to twice a month, one rotating topic and one dedicated to Body Image.

Body Image, held on the first Wednesday of every month on the second floor of Pizzeria Serio showcases four to six women telling their stories of body image struggles and triumphs. The women are not professional speakers, though many work in the theater or comedy arena, and they tell their story, with a focused message, to a group of about 20-30 audience members. Admission is reasonable at $10.

Nigl also sees this as a time for women to interact with women. There is a question and answer period after all the women have spoken, pens and post-its for note taking, and Nigl's trademarked postcards and stickers with messages of inspiration. Some of the stickers, which are complimentary, read: "I am a WOMAN not a GIRL", "BE MIDAS. Truly believing in one's worth", and "Before you DIY you must BIY. Believe in yourself," among others. Nigl encourages speakers and audience members to take as many stickers as they want and blanket the city with them.

There were four speakers for the August 2015 Body Image, who shared personal stories: Anita M. Mechler, Sarah Buino, Shanna Shrum, and Eileen Tull. Mechler spoke about her struggles through all-girls Catholic high school to moving to Chicago and looking for body positive community. She found it in Chicago's roller derby community.

Buino, a therapist who spoke about losing a parent and opening her own therapy practice in the same year, also explored her love/hate relationship with her arms and other body parts.

Shrum confessed her love of being naked with the push and pull of her own anxiety about her body and what of that she inherited from her mom and other female family members.

Tull told of a time she put on a crop top and was booed by a car full of men, and how she used her love of theater, comedy and performance to come to terms with that kind of a world.

All of the speakers gave moving readings or performances. Though these are not new topics or struggles for women, each of the women who spoke lent the topic her own flair and voice. Because the setting is intimate and the audience experienced (only about half the room was there for the first time), the event felt interactive with the audience cheering or gasping at intervals, shouting out encouragement, questions or howling with raucous laughter. There was at least two multi-generational groups there of mothers and aunts and their daughters and nieces.

Nigl's empire is only getting started. She has a podcast, that can be found in iTunes for free, and is kicking off a multi-media campaign. Nigl's goal is simple: she wants to help women rule the world. "ABOUT WOMEN" is a great start.

"ABOUT WOMEN: Body Image" takes place the first Wednesday of every month at Pizzeria Serio, 1708 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL. Tickets are available at the door for $10 cash. For information, visit http://www.nikkinigl.com/

Beth is a freelance writer living and working in Chicago. Her work has appeared in Salon.com, TimeOut Chicago, Chicago Collection Magazine, Ducts.org, and many other places. She fears the suburbs and mayonnaise. You can read more about her work at http://www.bethdugan.com/


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