Last week I posted an article called “The Day I Realized I Wasn’t Pretty” about my struggle with body image and how my mother’s struggle with her own self-worth forced me to face my own issues. I used that article as inspiration for a Final Project for my class, Media and Diverse Identities, at MSUM taught by the amazing Kandace Creel Falcon. This video is a digital story of photos, narrated by me, about those same issues brought up in my article. Adding images and my own voice allows this message to hit a little harder in my opinion. Below, I have to link to my video so please check it out and leave feedback! Under the video I have also posted my Final Paper reflection so all of you can see how this relates to my feminist views on the media as well. Enjoy!
When I first began creating my digital story I had no idea on the huge impact it would have not only on myself, but also on my mother, and for my friends that my story would reach. Since I chose the very personal topic of body image, this project became very cathartic and healing for me. Behind the scenes, this project not only took sweat and determination, but also quite a few tears because of its sensitive nature. I love the idea of a digital story as a means of combining pictures, voice, and personal narratives to create a multidimensional representation of a theme or topic. Since I focused on both my mother’s and my own struggle with body image a few of the themes that I focused on were the media’s effects and impact on one’s body image, the central ideas surrounding what it means to be feminine, and how misogyny is perpetrated through the media by contributing to women’s self-loathing around their bodies.
Telling this story was very important to me because body image issues have been something I have struggled with my whole life. I remember the day I realized I wasn’t pretty, the day it was confirmed I wasn’t pretty, and just about every day after that when I reminded myself how unattractive I was. I remember the intense depression, self-loathing, and general malaise that went hand in hand with these thoughts. It was also important to tell this story for my mother. I don’t know anyone as amazing as my mother, and it hurts me so much to see that she often wraps her self worth up in how she feels about her appearance, when she is so much more than that (not to mention beautiful). However, probably the most important part about this project for me was catharsis. As someone who has just recently come to terms with my body and being confident in not only how I look, but my entire being, it was important to reflect on some of the very hurtful memories and animosity I felt towards myself. This project not only allowed for so much self-reflection and healing, but it also opened up a dialogue between my mother and I about body image issues. She feels a lot of guilt over “showing me” how to hate my body, but this project is not to point blame at where I learned my self-loathing, it is to foster an environment of healing for myself and for her. My digital story is an ode to my mother’s beauty, and how my reflection on her struggle has allowed me to dismiss my own flaws and love myself for the beauty I hold both inside and out. And that has been truly powerful.
As far as addressing themes we talked about in WS 415, there are a lot of connections we can make between body image issues and topics like media’s impact on society and individuals, patriarchy, and what it means to be feminine. According to the media’s definition of “femininity,” I might as well not be a woman. I do not fit the traditional mold of femininity constructed by the media: I am tall, have broad shoulders, I take up space, I am considered “plus-size”, and the list goes on and on. All of these factors that permeate my self-perception are inherently based on medias influences of what we are told is beautiful, which is one of the many ways the media impacts women in a negative way. It constantly tells us we are not good enough as we are, and we never will be. All of these ideas are also intertwined with the agenda of the patriarchy. With male run corporations controlling media for the masses, it is not too hard to see that in one way or another, men are creating and perpetuating body shame and self loathing. The patriarchy is a multifaceted creature with roots that reach almost every realm of the media, and we are poisoned by its messages. For all of these reasons I felt the need to share my story of overcoming my body issues, and asserting myself as a confident, beautiful, feminist. I hope that my story will be able to reach an audience that has ever felt that way I do about my body, who will then use my struggle as a means of overcoming their own feelings of inadequacy in order to subvert the patriarchy in arguably its most dangerous game: instilling feelings of worthlessness in an entire sex based on their appearance. If we can all overcome these feelings, and work together to overthrow this system of oppression, we will be a forced to be reckoned with, and we will take no patriarchal prisoners.