I've been screening some different movies for possible inclusion on a list of films for one of the project options my Sociology students have to choose from. (Currently there are five options. The topics are quite varied, but the methodology for all of them is the same - to do structured interviews and then write a paper about it. I decided to throw in one alternative that centered on media analysis rather than interview.)
The movie I saw tonight was Disfigured - a movie about women and weight. I figured it might be appropriate during the unit we do on the Looking Glass Self - Charles H. Cooley's term for how our social environment influences the way we view ourselves.
On the back of the video it says: "Lydia is a fat, graceful woman struggling to maintain her identity in fashionable Venice Beach, California. Though she is a member of a Fat Acceptance Group (a movement dedicated to fighting prejudice against fat people) she still struggles with complex feelings about her body and its place in the world. Darcy, a recovering-anorexic real estate agent, is struggling with the same issues from a very different perspective. Her attempt to join the Fat Acceptance Group (since she sees herself as fat) is quickly rejected--but it introduces her to Lydia. Though they seem at first to be each others worst nightmare, Lydia and Darcy begin to confide in each other. Meeting warily in the social minefield's of hunger and satisfaction, anger and femininity, sexuality and fashion, trust and fear...they become friends."
I'm not sure what I think of this film. It had no rating, but had it gone through that process would certainly have earned an R for language and nudity. (There is one sex scene that starts out tastefully cut to give the sense of it without revealing too much and then all of a sudden goes across the line, at least for my tastes).
Still, there is much of value in the film - disturbingly so.
Both the obese woman and the frighteningly thin woman in this movie are struggling with feelings of disgust and loathing for their bodies. They are trying to break through and conquer that self hatred, to learn to appreciate and embrace who they are as they are. Why is that so hard?
There is so much in our culture that teaches us to feel inadequate, that we do not fit, do not measure up.
Jen has been addressing some of these issues over on her blog Lords of the Manner, and is hosting a Self Esteem Carnival on Dec 2.
I'll be very interested to read what others have to say on this topic, and if I have time to pull something coherent together may contribute a piece as well.
I encourage any of you other bloggers who stop by here to consider posting something on the subject and linking it in to Jen's carnival.