Earlier this month, I traveled to London to attend Endangered Species: Preserving the Female Body – an event challenging the toxic culture that teaches women and girls to hate their bodies.
The promotion of healthy body image has been the focus of my work for the past three years. In March 2008 I started researching and writing material that would eventually become The Illusionists – a feature length documentary about “the body as the finest consumer object,” exploring how mass media, advertising, and several industries manipulate and exploit people’s insecurities about their bodies for profit.
Why speak about these issues on No Country for Young Women? I wholeheartedly share the views of Susie Orbach, who said at the summit:
We are insisting that something that is regarded as a personal issue – insecurity and preoccupation about one’s body – be re-situated as a serious political, economic, and emotional issue.
I believe that anxiety and insecurity over one’s appearance can be destabilizing, weakening relationships and even undermining one’s career. In a recent survey by Glamour magazine, 97% of female respondent admitted to having at least one “I hate my body” moment a day. A study by the CCFC (Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood) showed that 70% of normal weight high school girls feel overweight and are dieting. Retail giant Walmart recently introduced an anti-aging cosmetics line for girls aged 8 -12. Sadly, I could produce dozens of other similarly alarming studies and examples of corporate irresponsibility.
So, it’s with all this in mind that I want to share with you two videos that I shot at the Endangered Species summit: at first, the speech by esteemed psychotherapist Susie Orbach (author of Bodies and Fat Is a Feminist Issue) that kicked off the summit:
And this wonderful presentation by body image activist Sharon Haywood about the beauty myth in Argentina:
Endangered Species – the official site
The Illusionists documentary