Friday, June 13, 2008

America the Beautiful

I was going to wait until I saw this documentary film to blog about it. But I realize it may be sometime before I can, because the kids just got out of school. I would not have even heard of " America the Beautiful" if I had not checked out Roger Ebert's site recently. It is a film about a year in the life of a 12 year old girl turned fashion supermodel. It looks like a mostly bitter, bittersweet experience for this girl. So, if you are lucky enough to have this film come near you, consider seeing it. And if you see it, consider being so kind as to commenting on it here.

Here is a little blurb about the film's creator by Roger Ebert. Entire article here.

Following a young beauty down a short runway

June 9, 2008

by Roger Ebert

A man from Chicago named Darryl Roberts made "America the Beautiful," a documentary that nobody wanted. It was about our obsession with being thin and beautiful and... perfect. Every distributor in the country turned him down. They told him he was black, and the 12-year-old fashion model at the center of the film was black, and blacks don't go to documentaries. He finally talked it into the American Film Institute's festival in Dallas, where it sold out four shows, "and 99 percent of the audience was white. Not that it means anything."

And here is a blurb from his review of the film:

America the Beautiful

May 9, 2008

Cast & Credits Arenas Group presents a documentary written, directed and narrated by Darryl Roberts. Running time: 103 minutes. Rated R (for some language). Opening today at Landmark Century.

By Roger Ebert

The documentary "America the Beautiful" is not shrill or alarmist, nor does it strain to shock us. Darryl Roberts, its director and narrator, speaks mostly in a pleasant, low-key voice. But the film is pulsing with barely suppressed rage, and by the end, I shared it. It's about a culture "saturated with the perfect," in which women are taught to seek an impossible physical ideal, and men to worship it.

I usually avoid this subject matter (child beauty pageants and some child modeling) because it angers me so. The closest I have gotten was"Little Miss Sunshine." A great film. In general the little girl "beauty queens" give me the creeps because they do not resemble little girls at all. They tend to look like miniature dolls, robotic and fake.
I think we can send much better messages to our girls than pile on the hairspray, makeup and inappropriate clothes and compete girl vs. girl. One child pageant's website had a photo of three or four year old girls standing there with their crowns. The pageant description: "Contestants are judged on 50% Facial Beauty, 25% Personality and 25% Stage Presence. Events include T-shirt, Interview, Casual Wear, Party Wear and Swimwear"
Sad to see facial beauty is twice as important as personality. And don't even get me started on swimsuit divisions for toddlers....................... I have seen claims that these pageants teach young girls "life skills." Huh? Facial beauty and stage presence (and let's not forget the "personality" they are looking for) will get you through life? Me thinks this is a recipe for an eating disorder, and/or insecurity and unhappiness. Girls are so much better than this.
I just don't understand how sexualizing children became so mainstream. Have we really been so blind? And the entire female body image industry- promoting insecurity and unattainable beauty for profit. It will be a hard fight with so much profit at stake.
I am happy that a man took the time to look closer at the beauty/fashion industry. The industry people speak for themselves and have oh so much to say. Check out their comments on Darryl Robert's website. They are funny in a sick kind of way.
So I give Darryl Roberts a Smart Girls Fun A+ Award for caring so much for our girls to make a film that will raise awareness about the attitudes of the fashion industry. Bravo!

1 comment:

Susan said...

Thanks for letting us know about this documentary, Margerie. I'm going to keep an eye out for it.

I read an article yesterday about how so many women struggle with self-image problems because they have an unrealistic view of what's normal. It starts young!