Straight/Curve: Redefining Body Image Documentary

Straight/Curve: Redefining Body Image Documentary

When it comes to “body image” there is a distinct lack of cold hard facts and it is a world resistant to change. It often times boils down to a matter of opinion when looking at women’s bodies, the body positivity movement and the lingering resistance of the fashion industry to diversify and be more inclusive. When diving into issues of shame, stigma, conditioning, fear, implicit bias and matters of personal taste there are no black and white answers. If there were the lingering resistance would be easier to change.

We were not born with a standard of beauty. It is taught, and learned. We have been conditioned by the fashion industry, the media and advertising world to believe the “thin, white ideal” is the only standard of beauty and we must strive to achieve it, and uphold it at all costs. This is a very dangerous notion and one I chose to challenge in my documentary film Straight/Curve: Redefining Body Image. In the film we examine the obstacles standing in the way of more diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry and media and offer up some alternatives for change. It is impossible to sum up all of the challenges facing women’s self image today in one post. Some are intangible and need to be experienced through the eyes of those affected, something a film like ours, I hope, offers viewers. This film is my attempt to change it! Change how we see women, change how we see ourselves, change how we talk about health and someone’s physical appearance, change how we talk about eating disorders, change how companies do business, change educational institutions, and most importantly change our standard of beauty.

One glaring obstacle for women that needs to change is the common misconception surrounding health in the US. One of the biggest issues facing women of different sizes in the fashion industry and media is the idea that “plus size women promote obesity”. This is dangerous and just plain wrong. A fact we can state is that you cannot judge a person’s individual health based on how they look, and we need to stop doing this as a society.

Another fact we can highlight is that body image and eating disorders are serious public health issues, as told to me by numerous health professionals, including the head of the National Eating Disorders Association, Claire Mysko. This has to stop being ignored. 20 Million women and 10 Million men in the US suffer from an eating disorder. As Claire Mysko says “this is not a vanity issue, this is a serious public health issue”. Let’s change how we view eating disorders and get people some real help.

When talking about the fashion industry as a whole it’s too easy to tar everybody with the same brush. It is a fact that there are some pioneering people in the fashion industry that ARE changing the way they create and do business. Look at Cristian Siriano, Becca McCharen from Chromat, Lane Bryant and Aerie to name a few. It is part of their DNA to promote diversity and the people behind these brands, and the designers themselves, just don’t know any other way. For other designers and brands it is harder to change the way they’ve done business for decades. But there is a $20billion gap in the market for those willing to dive into it and research shows that the retail market for plus-size women has grown 17% since 2013 and continues to grow. These are cold hard facts that cannot – and should not – be ignored. I am not sure brands have anything financially to gain by clinging to their intolerant, insular lens, and I am hopeful improving their bottom line by empowering their customers will surpass elitism or brand identity in the years to come.

Another cold hard fact is the ridiculous lack of education for designers to design, cut and drape for anyone over a size 4-6. Universities around the country, and the world, are simply not educating the next generation of designers and equipping them with the technical skills needed to make clothes for ALL women. This also has to change, as we all know real change starts with education.

Straight/Curve:Redefining Body Image is now available to buy or rent from iTunes, Amazon and The filmmakers have also created a special Screening Kit with discussion questions and fun activities so you can have the sometimes tricky conversations about body image in the comfort of your own home. Download the kit for FREE on the website.

-Jenny McQuaile


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