The Internet is a cruel and judgmental place thanks to social media. We crop our arms out of pictures and jut our chins out and down all for the sake of a flattering photo. We hide the physical features that make us insecure, but one brand wants us to stop.
Dove has mastered the positive body image ads, and now the company is back with the moving short film, Selfie, which debuted on Monday at Sundance. The documentary directed by Academy Award nominated director Cynthia Wade features female high school students and their mothers. Professional photographer Michael Crook is filmed speaking to the girls at an assembly in their gymnasium where she tells them:
“You have the power to change and redefine what beauty is. The power is in your hands because now more than ever, it’s right at our fingertips. We can take selfies.”
The last line earns some laughter. After the girls are broken into smaller groups, they are prompted to discuss the aspects of their appearance that leave them with self-doubt. The answers are heartbreaking and sometimes downright confusing, proving that we are our own worst critics.
The bleachers, the huddled groups, the apprehension all take you back to your formative high school years. What is great is that these girls are encouraged to empower themselves with the “selfie,” the same type of photo that probably gives them anxiety on a daily basis. What is even better is that their moms are asked to participate as well.
In typical high school project manner the photos are displayed in an art exhibit where the students write what the like about the photos on Post-it notes. Sweet right?
We all know that Queen Bees and mean girls are the harsh realities of adolescence, but what is truly interesting is seeing how the students were affected by their own mothers’ insecurities and comments.
At this point in my life I am more likely to freeze my eggs before giving birth, but this film makes you really think about mother and daughter relationships. I love beauty products, so will I pressure my daughter to wear makeup like the one mother the short film? Or worse, will my self-deprecating humor create a self-loathing child?
As one wise one wise student said in the film:
“I think beauty is being strong and being brave and being happy with yourself. I think that is really beautiful.”
We all need to work on passing that message along.
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