Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Are you beautiful? Really? Are you sure?

The most interesting movie I've seen in the last few weeks was a six-minute video made by six members of Girl Scout Troop 445. You'll find it here: http://vimeo.com/37500778.

The camerawork's a little shaky, perhaps intentionally. The girls, who come mostly from the Highland Creek area and are roughly of late middle school age, use a technique I first saw in the 1967 documentary "Don't Look Back," where Bob Dylan wrote the lyrics to "Subterranean Homesick Blues" on flash cards and held them up before a camera. Like Dylan, this sextet has something serious to say.

"Beauty Redefined" starts with the girls revealing their anxieties: extra weight, eczema, unattractiveness, apathy, judgmentalism, impatience. Then the tide turns, almost literally. (They're at the beach.) Cards define "ugliness" as peer pressure, discrimination, demoralization, hatred. The cards urge patience, kindness, confidence, acceptance. One says "A girl's true beauty is a reflection of her inner happiness." The film ends with an affirmation that Abbie, Aslan, Johanna, McKayla, Sydney and Victoria are beautiful -- and so are you.

I'd have appreciated a film like this when I was a stout, spotty-faced eighth-grader. Membership in the Low Esteem Club is open to both boys and girls, though boys aren't exposed to the same cruel evaluations of body image that girls face. This video reminds us we're all good at something, valuable in some way, "beautiful" spiritually or emotionally whether we're good-looking or not. (And none of these girls happen to be unattractive.)

That's a message Hollywood and TV producers almost never convey, in their frantic and absurd assertions that being hot differentiates winners from losers in America. That's why "Beauty Redefined" sticks in the memoey, when so much frivolous entertainment trash blows away overnight.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

oh im the real deal

Anonymous said...

(And none of these girls happen to be unattractive.)


hilarious that you put that line in there, haha.

nice article

Lawrence Toppman said...

I put that comment in there to prevent cynical readers from saying "Oh, I bet these girls did this because they're terrible-looking and wanted to feel better about themselves." That's clearly not why they made the film.

Anonymous said...

"sticks in the memoey" should be MEMORY (-2 points)