Today I wanted to combine two passions of mine into one blog post. Not only am I an advocate for women’s equality but I am also a big advocate for body positivity. I believe all women of every shape and size should love themselves for who they are no matter what they look like. The media on the other hand has always presented one particular body type as the standard with which all women must aspire too. This constant barrage of unhealthy, unrealistic, unobtainable images of a single body type throughout media is not only damaging to how women see themselves, but also for how men see women.
Diversifying body types, races, cultures, sexual orientations etc. of stories told and characters on screen will be beneficial for everyone in society creating opportunity for everyone to see themselves reflected in one of the largest forms of popular media. These diversified films & TV shows do exist and so I wanted to celebrate some of the female filmmakers that are incorporating diverse bodies into their work, or even creating whole plots around them.
Directed by Taryn Brumfitt this 2016 Australian documentary is a response to the eye opening results of surveys showing that 90% of women are “highly dissatisfied” with their bodies. The film is a journey through the global issue of body loathing with the aim to hopefully inspire women to change how we feel and think about our bodies.
The film received an MA15+ rating from the Australian Classification Board which Brumfitt has expressed outraged at since it puts the film into the same category as a film like Fifty Shades Of Grey. Ironically Facebook was reported to have censored the films posters on its social media platform for showing “excessive skin.”
Mostly Written and Directed by Lena Dunham this shows main character Hannah, played by Dunham herself, was a big step forward for body diversity on screen. Coping a lot of backlash and negativity, particularly from male audiences, for her nudity and sex scenes Dunham still unapologetically strutted her body across our small screens to the benefit of women everywhere. As a show depicting the realistic up and downs of modern life it made sense for the characters in the show to reflect the varying types of real humans that we cross on our daily path.
Directed by Anne Fletcher Dumplin’ brings the pageant world into the spotlight to hold it accountable for its hand in shaping beauty standards of women around the world. When teenage daughter (Danielle McDonald) of a former beauty queen (Jennifer Aniston) signs up for her mum’s pageant as a protest it soon escalates when other contestants follow in her footsteps, revolutionising the pageant scene. A statement for loving yourself no matter what you look like this film also has a lot of fun doing it at the same time.
The directorial debut of Olivia Wilde Booksmart‘s greatest asset is its two main characters. In sexual orientation and body type the two best friends represent a cross section of people across the world in a realistic and believable way never drawing attention to either of the details but flawlessly incorporating them into this hilarious coming of age story that speaks for itself.
Recently brought up again in backlash against Rebel Wilson’s claims to be the first plus-size romantic lead for her new film Isn’t It Romantic. Whilst having Rebel as a romantic lead in a big Hollywood film is definitely a positive, we have to acknowledge that she is definitely NOT the first. Directed by Sanaa Hamri Just Wright is the story of Physical therapist Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) who lands the dream job of working with basketball superstar Scott McKnight (Common) and soon finds herself falling in love with him. A pretty standard romance plot but with the voluptuous Queen Latifah at the forefront it certainly was something different than what we’d seen before.
Orange Is The New Black
Whilst all seven seasons include only 25% female directed episodes Orange Is The New Black has one of the most diverse casts I think I’d ever seen on a TV show. Not only in terms of the body types of the various women but the cultures, sexual orientations and races of the entire cast not to mentioned the incredible performances of all of these amazingly diverse characters. I can’t say I’ve stuck with the show all the way up to its final season, but it has definitely paved the way for new kinds of stories with diverse characters in Television since.