Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 20 October 2008
- Written by Administrator
America The Beautiful
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
As the director and sometime participant, Roberts narrates his findings about how damaging the artificial and manufactured beauty message is for women. Citing his own mistake in finding and rejecting an attractive girlfriend in an effort to hold out for someone even more perfect and beautiful, Roberts illustrates how he is both perpetrator and victim in the cult of beauty B.S. When he boldly allows his photo to be judged by the women of beautifulpeople.net, a website you have to qualify for by being voted as acceptable to join, he is rejected in no uncertain terms. Robert is an overweight, middle-aged, balding African American male. Does it matter that he’s smart, sensitive, insightful and caring? Are you kidding?
Unfortunately, both American and European societies have idealized the Amazonian and emaciated stereotype that has come to embody the words “model” and more disturbingly, “supermodel.” Never is it pointed out that these women could be considered genetic freaks (less than 1% have what it takes to become organic clothes hangers), taking credit for the length of their bones as if they had anything to do with it. Ultra-thin models also keep expensive fabric costs down for designers.
Twelve year old Gerren Taylor’s story is intermittently featured as a pre-pubescent model that possesses the height, the “walk” and the attitude, but not the maturity to maintain a breakthrough modeling career, even with the help of her ambitious mother, Michelle.
Gerren’s adventures on the catwalks of DKNY, Marc Jacobs and Tommy Hilfiger are chronicled as well as her middle school attempt at a normal life. Her story could well be it own feature, but here takes up the lion’s share of cinematic attention, weaving in and out of anecdotal footage featuring other victims in the ongoing race for acceptance amidst extreme physical demands.
Roberts interviews fashion industry professionals, medical experts, grieving parents of eating disorder victims, and young girls who have already resigned themselves to being “ugly” because they do not meet the ridiculously unattainable standard of what’s “hot.” Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues) weighs in with her observations on women in third world countries and how, by contrast to American women, they love and appreciate their bodies. Anthony Kiedis of The Red Hot Chili Peppers makes a statement, too, that Roberts has a beautiful handshake. His stance is not so readily apparent. Footage of Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson pop up to illustrate modern ideals.
Male attitudes are shown to be complicit in and approving of the superficial marathon that women engage in for the sake of a physical ideal that is as manufactured as the products it pushes. Merely pretty woman are barely noticed; the plain are downright invisible. One modern cretin actually advances the theory that cosmetic surgery lengthens a woman’s “shelf life.” Unfortunately, this attitude drives the hype and relentless pursuit of artificial enhancement that compels women to medically carve themselves into a better profile or silhouette. Even female genitalia is fair game.
Entire industries profit from the self-doubt and low self-esteem they promote via advertising, product promotion, and cosmetic surgery. It’s good business for advertising to make women feel bad about themselves, creating a need for quick fixes in bottles and procedures on aging skin. It’s become so ridiculous that dogs (I mean the canine kind) can now undergo testicular implants for that studly ego maintenance that they’re known for.
Statistics are startling. Europe has banned roughly 450 hazardous chemicals previously used in cosmetics; less than 20 of these have been banned in the United States. Especially dangerous are cancer-causing substances called phthalates and they lurk in many beauty products but are not listed on the labels because of FDA loopholes regarding trade secrets. Cosmetic surgery pulls in $12 billion a year in American dollars, much of it performed with disastrous consequences by inexperienced or non-board certified doctors who’ve had a weekend workshop practicing surgery on tomatoes. Scary but true, according to Roberts.
Remember the Dove campaign a few years back, featuring real women? According to Roberts, even their “real” images have all been enhanced – eyes widened, neck lengthened, lips plumped. You know, just enough to make them acceptable to the American eye. Software programs like Photoshop have become high-tech forms of
quickie cosmetic surgery, bloodless, but no less deceptive.
Then there’s the story of the Harrah’s Casino employee who was fired for not wearing makeup. Female of course, professional looking though not particularly feminine in facial features, she lost her case and her job. Seems one must be aesthetically pleasing to the eye in a public position or be resigned to a life hidden in shadows so as not to offend those who buy into the war paint and scalpel route to self-improvement.
Roberts’ documentary can be rambling and disorganized, but makes an important point nonetheless. His conclusion exhorts the viewer to call up every single woman they know and tell them that they’re beautiful just the way they are. Now, if we could just get those same women to believe it.