Archive for December 30, 2013

Media Monday: Likeness

A Shockingly Real Short Film About Body Image

Submitted by Christine Hanwick       

I’ve had conversations with people who believe the mainstream medias portrayal of women doesn’t have an impact on women’s and young girls self-esteem. I generally pipe in with, “I disagree.” Personally, I do believe that the constant onslaught of images of gaunt, photoshopped, and over-sexualized women has a cumulatively negative effect on the minds of young girls and women (as well as boys and men). And this view is in line with current research which has shown that when women are consistently exposed to images of thin models, disordered eating and body image issues increase (source).


Of course, I also agree that the media is not the sole cause of disordered eating and body image issues. But unfortunately, it seems to be having an unnecessarily negative impact on many young girls and women in our society.


Body image and the media is also the topic of “Likeness,” a new beautifully crafted, disturbing, and eye-opening short film.  Please know, if you choose to watch the film, it contains images that may be disturbing to some. Written by Rodrigo Prieto and his daughter, Ximena, “Likeness” is a “meditation on eating disorders” (source). Starring Elle Fanning as a young woman struggling with body image, this short art house film challenges us — in a way no other film has — to consider the role of the media and society in the way the female body is idealized and objectified, and the implications this may have on young women.


“Likeness” leads the viewer with off-beat techno music through dark and smokey rooms within a dream-like house smattered with (mostly) silent, and strangely posed apathetic men and women (models). These images — just disturbing enough to make the viewer feel a little uncomfortable — were inspired by pages pulled (literally) out of fashion magazines. What we find out shortly — as we are led into a bathroom in front of a mirror — is that we are viewing these rooms and images through a lens on a young woman played by Elle Fanning. As she looks in the mirror to apply mascara, she pauses as her face transforms into what I can only imagine is supposed to look “ugly” through her eyes. A tear falls down her cheek as she attempts to peel the skin off of her face. Obviously disturbed by her own image, she screams at a piercing pitch which we only hear the beginning of, and then it is silenced. When we see her face in the mirror again, she appears as she was when she first entered the bathroom — a beautiful young woman. Then she is shown using eating disorder symptoms. As she exits the bathroom, you come to find the rooms we had just passed through with her are not filled with models, but her peers. And the music no longer macabre, but upbeat. The only dialogue that occurs in this short (besides the scream) comes next. A friend or perhaps acquaintance, played by Ximena Prieto, asks Fanning if she is “ok.” Fanning says yes, but as she walks aways, the mood and music turn dark again and the viewer is left with unease. Prieto said he purposefully ended it in such a way to “reflect his family’s enduring psychological scars” (source).


According to an article in the New York Times, Prieto who has worked with Martin Scorsese Oliver Stone, considers this short film, “as a professional achievement on par with his Oscar nomination for Brokeback Mountain.” He was inspired to take on this subject because of his daughter Ximena’s struggle with an eating disorder. Prieto said that he broke down into tears while watching Fanning play this role because it was as if he was watching his own daughters struggle through the lens of the camera. And although painful, he said, “it was also therapeutic. That was really the moment it was all about” (source).



Your Body is Sacred!

Submitted by EFP Volunteer.


Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to.

Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected.

Where do you find pearls? Deep down a the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell.

Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.

Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls and you should be covered too.”

-Muhammad Ali

Media Monday – Student Uses Advanced Photography Skills to Reveal the Realities of Photoshop Manipulation

Submitted by EPF Volunteer

Shared by the Huffington Post, 24-year old college student, Anna Hill receives absolute praise from me for taking her digital photography skills and putting them to the test for a final project in her advanced digital photography class. Her project revealed the realities of Photoshop manipulation and spins them onto the application itself, she did this by creating mock ads for Photoshop. The result is stunning, inspiring, and eye-opening.

What I like most about Anna’s project is how critical she was at taking some of the extremes that Photoshop uses to manipulate people’s bodies and using those as a vehicle to create her parody ads. These are things that many of us do not even notice are re-touched in advertisements, such as the expectation for longer legs and the realization that most advertisements show models with skin that appears to be virtually flawless and yes – shiny plastic with no pores.

When the reality is that we cannot actually make our legs and arms longer and yes, we all have pores and freckles and scars and spots on our skin. I love that Anna took these expectations created by media and Photoshop made ads out of them, it makes them seem much more ridiculous and yet revealing for those who might not realize that these messages are even being sent.

I even found myself chuckling at a few of her creations at the absurdity of what the ad was selling. Mostly because we are not used to seeing these unrealistic expectations advertised so blatantly and shoved in our face in the way that Anna revealed them – even if we do have high media literacy abilities to pick up the subtle messages in ads and challenge their underlying message – it is a whole other perspective to see them marketed in this way.

My hope is that we are moving towards a time where there are more Anna Hill’s out there to help strip down the unrealistic pressures that media puts on our bodies so that we can begin to celebrate and love the natural and unique beauty that our bodies are.



Mindfulness During This Holiday Season – Because Loving Your Body is More than Physical

Submitted by EPF Volunteer

Everything is all hustle and bustle this time of year.

If we were not good at being mindful, taking time for ourselves and doing some self-care before, there is no way it is happening between the months of November – January 1st. Everyone seems to move faster outside with the bite of the cold on our cheeks and we would all much rather be on the couch with a warm blanket, near a fireplace, sipping on tea or hot cocoa.

But we know there is no time for that.

There is tons of holiday shopping left to do – you’re worried at this point that you’ll probably be hitting the stores on Christmas Eve getting last minute things. Work is busier than ever – everyone seems to be trying to get everything done before the new year roles in. Let’s not even think too hard on the overwhelming fact that the entire family is coming over in a week. Bettie and Harold will surely be asking about your career path and your house is not even near being ready to host guests – and then THE FOOD. Oh so much baking and cooking to do. Have you even figured out what you’re cooking yet?!

Humph. Just another holiday season. It will be over soon.

Now. Stop. This is what I want to tell everyone during this time.

I recently went to a volunteer event and there the organization actually brought a professional – a counselor – in to talk to everyone at the event about how to ‘be stress free’ through the holidays. I was stunned. And a little sad about it – isn’t this time supposed to be about relaxing and slowing down, not bringing in reinforcements because we’re all so stressed?

I will not continue along and say that we don’t need to be told how to handle the added stress of holidays. I know that sometimes we need to be reminded how to self-care.

What I will say is that I wish we didn’t have to ‘bring in the professionals’. I will echo what was said at that event though. It is so important to be extra kind and gentle to ourselves during this time. To really dedicate to remembering the spirit of being present in this time of year. Of being around loved ones and taking time to care for ourselves.

Often, we get lost in focusing too much on the worries of the holidays, this prevents us from actually enjoying this time, and it can result in the opposite of self-care.

I want to urge you to be mindful of the simple joys of the pleasures that are present in this time of year. Weather that is in the simplicity of having loved ones over to your home and not worrying about what type of napkins are on the table, of appreciating the beauty of the falling snow instead of stressing over how you don’t want to drive in it later. Maybe it is taking the extra day off work to sit with loved ones and enjoying that comforting cup of tea or hot cocoa.

Because loving your body is much more than physical – it is also being good to your mind and being gentle with yourself when things are hectic. To slow down and rest.

I am urging you to be present in this season, let go of the things that don’t actually matter or that you can’t control and simply be mindful of the precious time that this is. After all – it only comes around once a year and it is a gift!


Media Monday: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show: Don’t Buy What They’re Selling

Submitted by Christine Hanwick

The Victoria’s Secret show is a “monstrosity of an entertainment event,” says William Wolfe-Wylie in an article he wrote for And the reason it’s a “monstrosity” is the effect it seems to have on young girls and women who watch it. Perhaps a decade ago we could guess that shows like this — where women are glorified and objectified by their shape and size — would have a negative effect on young girls and women’s self-esteem, but today we can see it clearly on twitter:

“When I watch the Victoria’s Secret fashion show every year I wanna starve myself.”

“I hate Victoria’s Secret fashion Shows because they make girls like me feel inferior. They make me look in the mirror and hate myself.”

“The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is over time to starve ourselves now…”


Unfortunately, there are many young girls and women who believe they must attain bodies like these models in order to gain acceptance, love, or worth in this world. And this is a problem, because these body shapes and sizes are only representative of 5% of the population. (Not to mention that these models full-time jobs are maintaining their size and shape and they go on strict liquid diets before the show.) As Wolfe-Wylie says in his article, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show is “a complete lie. It’s a lie that girls around the world accept as truth. It’s a lie that propagates eating disorders, poor body image and unhealthy views of femininity and sexuality.”


I suppose we could all just feel really angry about Victoria’s Secret, but hey, but who is that hurting? Probably just ourselves. So what can we do about it? It seems one way we can make choices for ourselves and our future is through simple consumption or non-consumption. So here is my 2 cents: don’t buy into what they are selling. If you aren’t happy with the images they portray, don’t watch the show and don’t buy their lingerie — find another brand like, Knixwear, that uses real women on their site.

Image credit