Body image is a tricky subject. It’s something we deal with every day, whether we realize it or not. “Do I look ok in these pants?” “Wow, she’s gotten thin.” “He has great muscles, why don’t mine look like that?”
We have thoughts like these so many times per day, we barely even notice any more. Even those who normally have great body image can catch themselves having negative thoughts about their bodies, or someone else’s.
Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to remind us that you can be happy and healthy without being supermodel thin or bodybuilder built. Here are five films that we think are worth your time to watch.
Though this documentary isn’t out yet, we were inspired by Taryn Brumfitt’s story and her now infamous non-traditional “before and after” photo. In it, the before image is Taryn during a fitness competition, the very picture of a “perfect body,” but unhappy with how she looked. The after photo is her today, less “fit” but much happier.
“The day I learned to unconditionally love my body was the day I became unstoppable.” <– CLICK TO TWEET THIS QUOTE
After making that realization, she decided to create a positive body image movement and share it through, among other channels, a documentary she’s crowdfunding on Kickstarter, Embrace.
Super Skinny Me
Going the complete opposite direction is Super Skinny Me, a documentary mini-series from the BBC. Filmed in 2021, it follows the journeys of two journalists as they “race to size zero” by following the diet and exercise tricks of popular celebrities. It’s hard to watch at times as the two spiral out of control, encountering some serious health problems. It’s a needed harsh reminder that extreme dieting and exercising for thinness do more harm than good. You can find this documentary on YouTube.
As of April 2021 this documentary was in post-production, so hopefully it will be available for viewing soon. The Illusionists takes a hard look at the images we are given through advertising and mass media. As the filmmakers point out, sex sells, but insecurity sells even more, meaning advertisers can exploit body hatred for profit. The film also looks at how perceptions of physical attractiveness can affect everything from how we try to look to our overall success in life.
You’ve likely heard of this one. Miss Representation was an Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021 and hasn’t lost steam since. This documentary takes a look at how women are portrayed in the media from the impossible standards of Photoshopped ads to the under-representation of intelligent women or those in positions of power. Miss Representation certainly tackles body image issues, but it’s just one of many covered in the film. You can see Miss Representation on a variety of video platforms.
Though not a documentary like the other films on the list, Disfigured takes a unique look at how we perceive ourselves and others. It’s the story of two women — one overweight and one a recovering anorexic — who join a Fat Acceptance Group for similar reasons, albeit from different perspectives. It’s a movie that delves into territory we don’t often see from anything but documentaries, which is why we thought it should be included our list of films worth watching.
Video from: BBC America, missrepresentation.org, theillusionists.org,disfiguredmovie on YouTube, kickstarter.com