Summer is coming and that means an increase of thin women in bikinis with flawless, hairless, sun kissed skin. The pressure from the media is always on, but never is it felt so strongly as in Summer with advertisements telling you to get ‘beach body’ ready. All across the globe, men and women struggle with negative body image, thinking they’re not skinny enough, not muscular enough and most of all not beautiful enough. For decades our own self worth has been influenced by the media and in recent years we, the public, have started playing an active role in influencing others through Instagram, YouTube and other social media channels. It’s important to take a step back and be aware of how the media influences your perception of your own body. We recommend taking the time to watch any or all of the below documentaries as they might help you become more body positive.
Miss Representation is a great documentary to watch if you have never given much thought about the way the media influences how you see yourself. It shines a different light on the imagery you encounter in your daily life and may never have questioned. It will present you with the statistics, the analysis of the academics and insights from professionals in the industry. It hits on issues of body image and how women perceive themselves a direct result of how they are depicted in the media. Miss Representation wants its viewers to know that you cannot compare yourself with the unrealistic images on television, and to inspire you to not let them control your life.
Miss Representation concludes with the popular Ghandi quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world” and that is exactly what Australian Taryn Brumfitt does. Embrace tells her story, how she struggled with her own negative body image and how she overcame it. Exploring why such an overwhelming amount of women despise their own bodies, Embrace focuses on moving forward and accepting yourself as you are.
This documentary is available on Netflix.
Embrace is more than just a documentary, it is part of a wider organisation: The Body Image Movement . On the Embrace Kickstarter Taryn writes she wanted to do something about the media’s constant assault on our self esteem. “I created The Body Image Movement and started spreading my message ‘LOVE YOUR BODY.’”
This documentary might be playing in a cinema near you: Clik here to find out more.
The Illusionists takes a closer look at the ‘why’ of it all. It analyses how advertising works and the way it takes advantage of our negative self image. The documentary describes the ideal consumer as an anxious, insecure person and explains how advertisers exploit our insecurities in a way that hits close to home.
On a daily basis you see unrealistically beautiful people on TV, in movies and in magazines and advertisers sell you the lie that this could be you – if only you would buy their product. Visiting 8 countries across 4 continents The Illusionists considers globalisation and the effect of Western beauty ideals worldwide.
This film can be downloaded for a small fee on their website (with some of the proceedings being donated to non-profit organisations)
What if you don’t have that toned and sculpted ideal body? What if instead you are fat? The Kickstarted documentary Fattitude explores what it means to be fat in a society that places value on thinness. What role do fat people play on TV and in films? What rules apply to them and what roles can they fill? The aim of the filmmakers is to raise awareness about fat shaming and the stigmatisation of fat people in our society.
Fattitude is currently in post production, you can support this documentary on their website
Dark Girls takes a controversial and often overlooked angle, focussing on skin colour, issues of race and the prejudice that dark-skinned women face, including amongst themselves.
Bill Duke, one of the filmmakers, speaks of a famous psychological experiment from the 60s, which has since been recreated with the same results on many occasions. In this experiment young black girls are asked to point to the ugly doll when presented with a black and a white doll. A shockingly high percentage of these girls points to the black doll. Even at a young age black girls attribute negative traits to their own skin colour and positive ones to a white skin colour. Duke states that “our goal is to take that little girl’s finger off that doll.”
In this confronting documentary black women recall what it is like growing with the “wrong” skin colour according to Western beauty standards and how this standard affects young girls to this day.
The DVD is available on Amazon.
Grace Neutral’s Beyond Beauty film and series
While a lot of documentaries about body image focus on Western beauty norms, Beyond Beauty with Grace Neutral goes global. In her travels she speaks to both people in the mainstream and those outside to create a complete image of society.
Though this series doesn’t specifically deal with body image it is interesting to see how the perception of human bodies and beauty differs across the globe. The show might leave you thinking about the absurdity of some trends and taboos and will hopefully give you the power to critically consider the beauty ideals in your own society.
We would love to hear from you, so do leave us any interesting documentaries recommendations, or tell us your own histories, experiences, or share your journey to self love and acceptance, on the comments below