BODY TYPED Film Clips:

Winner: Sundance Film Festival - Short Subject Jury Award
Winner: Newport International Film Festival - Best Short Film
National PBS Broadcast on POV
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Truly awesome poets from Power Writers respond in writing:

Looking at Me

by Patricia Holman

My heart is beating slowly
To the rhythm of silence
And for once, I can finally say…

There’s nothing to distract me
It’s just me
My journal, and
The craftiness of my pen

I look out towards my window
Trynna find some inspiration
Instead I see my cousin and his buddies
On the street

I redirect my vision
To the page below my hand
This is MY TIME
And I will not let any foolishness
Take control of me,
Let alone my mind

I look up towards the ceiling
Hoping maybe I’d see a vision
The vision that I make out
Is a vision of me
It’s what I wanna be

Without a blemish on my face
My skin looks like chocolate
My eyes are light brown
And there’s a dimple on each cheek

Check out my circumference
Which is lined with baby hair
Long locks to my breasts
Just a hint of grey hair

There’s a mole upon my shoulder
And my tits are perfectly round
My nipples just right
Not too hard, not too soft

Heading deeper to my core
My abs have the perfect 4 pack
My body like a coke bottle
Big across the top
Coming in around the middle

Now take a look at my behind
Lord knows, that thang is juicy
Nice and firm, with enough curve
To put a drink on it

My hips a 42
Check the swagga, when I sway
I make wide turns
So I put my signal on
Like a Mack truck

Put your face into my pocketbook
There’s not a stitch of hair nowhere
It’s like you’re on the Moon
There’s not a sign of life anywhere

My thighs are the thickest
You can’t but wanna taste ‘em
Like a milkshake
You couldn’t suck me through a straw

Talkin’ about suckin’
Face your eyes upon my toes
10 little piggies
Without a bunion or a corn
All in alignment

This is what I wish I could be
What I wish you could see
What I wish was me

But it’s not me…

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The debate continues....

NY Times:
Published: December 2, 2009
AIRBRUSH WITH THE LAW Valérie Boyer has proposed legislation in France that would require that all digitally altered photographs of people used in advertising be labeled as retouched.

Point, Shoot, Retouch and Label?

VALÉRIE BOYER is 47, a member of the French parliament and a divorced mother of three. She is tall, fashionable and, dare we say it, slim.

But she has also created a small furor here and abroad with her latest proposal: a draft law that would require all digitally altered photographs of people used in advertising be labeled as retouched.

Some think such a law would destroy photographic art; some think it might help reduce anorexia; some say the idea is aimed at the wrong target, given that nearly every advertising photograph is retouched. Others believe such a label might sensitize people to the fakery involved in most of the advertising images with which they’re bludgeoned.....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More on the Effects of Altered Images

By Randy Cohen

Many comments on yesterday’s post argue that the problems associated with radically altered images of women should be solved not by their producers but by their consumers, asserting that the latter must take “personal responsibility” (Nos. 4 and 19, for instance) or simply avoid these products and publications (Nos. 39 and 57, among others). Others assert that the only people affected by such images are “stupid” (No. 43), lack “brains” (No. 40) or are not “sane” (No. 20).

I agree that it is incumbent on us all to be informed and skeptical, and not just in response to advertising. But it is futile to rely on the critical thinking of even the most astute and determined consumer.


The Video Op-Ed is also linked with the article

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Should Photos Come With Warning Labels?

NY Times Article By Randy Cohen

A Ralph Lauren ad, featuring a model with hips narrower than her head — so cartoonish, so grotesque, so right for Halloween — has become the latest focus of the already ongoing criticism of digitally altered fashion spreads, even though it ran only in Japan. Foes see such images as harming women by promoting a standard of beauty so false that it can be achieved solely by manipulating a photograph of an already slender model. This image is an extreme example of what happens to many ads, a practice that has become so dubious that some governments are taking action. Should ads using electronically altered images be banned?....


I obviously have some opinions about this. Easier for me to express them through film/ video.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change

The last few minutes of Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

Here's a link to some good info about climate change and public health:


Just got back from a 1st University screening/ lecture with the films. I'm incredibly inspired the the challenging questions that students asked after the screening. Forgot how good your brain can feel being in school.

MTSU Student Paper Write up

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Fat" Ralph Lauren Model Fired, Photoshopped

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I would say that models are real women, but think this is very interesting.....

German magazine swaps thin models for real women


Associated Press Writer

BERLIN — Germany’s most popular women’s magazine announced Monday that it is banning professional models from its pages in favor of “real women” in an attempt to combat an unhealthy standard of rail-thin beauty that it says has isolated its readers.

The editor-in-chief of Germany’s bimonthly Brigitte told reporters that, starting next year, the magazine will feature a mix of prominent women and regular readers in photo spreads for everything from beauty to fashion to fitness.

Andreas Lebert said the move is a response to readers increasingly saying that they are tired of seeing “protruding bones” from models who weigh far less than the average more

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Activists weigh in on ways to use the film

Top Chef Carla Hall on being flat-chested

While shopping for a meal she was cooking for filmmakers including Spike Lee -- at the NYC farmer's market, Top Chef Carla Hall -- chimes in about body types.

What do you have to say? Send us a link to a video response and we'll post it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

34x25x36 on PBS Site

34x25x36 is up on the P.O.V. site for the next month.
You can watch it for free here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Girls from Girls Inc. chime in

Through Girls Inc. 2 interns are working on the film Going on 13 this summer. Katarina writes in after watching WET DREAMS AND FALSE IMAGES:

Wake Up Fellaz & Feel the love Ladies

By Kick-butt interns

Katarina: Ok, so I’m on film duty! and there was this movie that Fu and I watched called, Wet Dreams & False Images. The title was enough for me to get excited about watching it! Lol. But seriously, this movie is pretty awesome. The entire time I was thinking, “Do guys really think that kind of stuff about women?”and they really do! At the beginning when those dudes were describing the chicks in the magazine, I really felt bad about myself. I mean I dont have *photoshopped* silky smooth skin, or anything like that. But man you cannot BELIEVE the female power i felt when those guys were dead silent watching the professional explain that everything they’d been worshipping in models was pretty much FAKE! ooomg it was awesome. Let’s just say I felt pretty sexy after that. I’m one of those people who had really starved for the “dream” bodies all the guys liked. Nowadays I’m thinking that there is somebody out there who is not ashamed to say “Hey, she ain’t no model, but thats the best part!” Lmao. It’s almost sad though.

All their lives guys have been misled, they’re gonna have to start realizing that real women aren’t what they thought they were. Suckers…

“See that, is smooth. Silky smooth, I could bet a million dollars that ain’t airbrushed.” - Dee-Dee “Booty Expert” O.o! :p

More at: Going on 13 blog

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Did an interview with CBC this morning, which was an interesting process. In the end we left off talking about fashion in terms of eating disorders, and about the obesity epidemic. Not sure this is the whole picture. Anorexia exists in places where large bodies are celebrated, and is usually associated with OCD. The same medication can be used for treatment of either. It can be easy to talk about body image in terms of extreme cases – and this almost let’s us off the hook. I’m really interested in images and perception – in what messages are coming at us – and how this affects how we see ourselves and each other.

In terms of advertising it’s all art and fantasy – but fantasy that needs us to think it’s real. Images are photoshopped “to death” but traces of imperfection are left in to make us think it’s real – or attainable. Attainable through a product. In an interview a re-toucher said:

"What you're looking for as a retoucher is a broom, something that covers your tracks. Some way of obscuring where you've been. And the first thing that people take out is the bloodshot-eyes, that's the last thing that I take out or just wipe, because that just makes it look retouched. So you stay away from those obvious makers that show that you've been there…That’s real and compelling, and the fact that I leave that in makes it seem more real."

There are some talented retouchers out there, and I would like to see how we react if they were given a credit in magazines.

We also talked about Elle magazine's recent publication of images without photoshop. And it made me wonder whether the discussion should be flipped. Maybe it’s the fantasy, or the perfected image, that’s competing with real life.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NCGS Conference

Headed on the bus (wifi!) with Trish to the National Coalition of Girl's Schools conference. Presenting a video that I directed for their opening night.
Interested in talking to teachers about how they use films in the classrooms. Do they stream films, or always use DVDs? And, how do "smartboards" work?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Vogue editor launches new war on size-zero fashion

by Will Pavia

The editor of Vogue has accused some of the world’s leading catwalk designers of pushing ever thinner models into fashion magazines despite widespread public concern over “size-zero” models and rising teenage anorexia.

Alexandra Shulman, one of the most important figures in the multi-billion-pound fashion industry, has taken on all the largest fashion houses in a strongly worded letter sent to scores of designers in Europe and America. In a letter not intended for publication but seen by The Times, Shulman accuses designers of making magazines hire models with “jutting bones and no breasts or hips” by supplying them with “minuscule” garments for their photoshoots. Vogue is now frequently “retouching” photographs to make models look larger, she said....continue reading

Absolutely Fashionable

Donald Schwartz from Imagelink Productions in Brooklyn just sent the
link to his wife's work. Looks like a pretty incredible installation:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Be part of the film project!

I'm thrilled that New Day Films just accepted 34x25x36 into the collection! So all three films will be distributed on one DVD. Each film is one piece of a larger story -- and designed to raise a specific discussions -- and I am excited for them to

During a very lively discussion around how teachers can best use these films in classrooms (here at the New Day Films annual meeting), I am planning to create a new website that includes videos showing teachers using the films -- and leading post-screening discussions.

If you are planning to use any one of the films in your classroom and want to be part of the videos let me know.


Friday, June 5, 2009

New Day Films new website!

Greetings from the New Day Films annual meeting in Northern California. We are excited about the launch of our new website. New Day is a coop -- a filmmaker owned & operated distribution business and this website had to be decided on collectively. Took a while but happy it is up.

check it out if you have a sec.

Founding members Julia Reichert, Jim Klein, Liane Brandon


Formed in 1971, New Day sustains many of the ideas of those times: collaboration, hope, social change:

The feminist movement had just arrived. And a group of independent filmmakers could not find distribution for their feminist films.

“We met at the 1971 Flaherty Seminar, where some of our films were programmed,” recalled founding member Amalie Rothschild. “I was in production with It Happens to Us. I'd been trying to get distribution for Woo Who? May Wilson. I'd take it to non-theatrical distribution companies and they'd say 'It's wonderful, dear, we really like it. But there's no audience...’ ”

Founding members Julia Reichert and Jim Klein had already started self-distributing their film, Growing Up Female.

more at:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The True Body Project comes to Brooklyn!

Mother's Day 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

1:00pm - 4:00pm

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, NY

Come on out!

Friday, May 8, 2009

"Story Leads to Action" Summit at 92YTribeca

Working Films Summit -- Linking Non-Fiction Films to Cutting Edge Activism.
Screening (Wet Dreams and False Images, The Guarantee and 34x25x36) with workshop and panel discussion. 

What an experience! Providing a huge amount of feedback and specific outreach strategies, the event was incredibly helpful. I came away with a large stack of note cards that I am still sorting through - with input from audience members and the panelists about strategic ways the films can be used and who to reach out to. Especially useful was insight from Karina Lynch (panelist from Educational Alliance) and Amy Levine (Sex Ed. Educator) about the process of getting films "approved" for schools. They suggest organizing pilot screenings at High Schools and After-School programs which can be models for more educators. I have screened the films at high schools and after-schools but didn't quite know how to best build on these screenings to reach out to more institutions. Going to have a follow up meeting with Karina Lynch from Ed. Alliance and make a game plan.

Planning also to follow up on the panel and meet with Connect about partnering on a screening series in barbershops in NYC. Connect has been doing some community outreach and organizing in barbershops and seems like a great partner to help develop a screening kit. My plan is to co-host a pilot screening with barbers from the film Wet Dreams and False Images and have them lead the Q&A.

After hearing feedback from the awesome girls on the panel from the Lower East Side Girl's Club it seems like a co-ed screening might be the most effective. 

Overall I have to say it was incredibly exciting and energizing to think about new ways the films can be used outside of traditional distribution models. I'm grateful that the films were part of this think-tank with such a high-level panel!

The panel included wonderful people from the Lower East Side Girl's Club,Educational Alliance, Connect, two Media literacy experts, a Sex Educator who works with teens and parents, and a High School teacher from Brooklyn (who happens to be Dee Dee the barber's sister).

Now that I have really begun to connect with potential project advisors and partner organizations, the work that needs to be done to get the films into the hands of educators and activists seems more specific and is starting to feel manageable. I'm excited build on the connections made at the "story leads to action mini-summit"  this really does feel like team building rather than something I need to do on my own. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I was extremely excited to receive an email from my alma mater, UCSC, requesting a copy of 34x25x36 for a Wellness Week program that focuses on health and body image. They are going to screen the film to a group of students at Porter College. The film was ordered by the Coordinator for Residential Education -- interesting to think about student residential life as a place to show the films and start discussions. Going to be traveling with the films to Universities in the fall, so hoping to hear feedback from the students about the post-screening discussion.

Go banana slugs (UCSC's Mascot)!

Friday, April 17, 2009

On Point Interview with Susie Orbach

Op-Ed piece was mentioned on NPR and my pal just sent me the link. Actually haven't had time to listen to the piece yet, but here it is:

Reclaiming Our Bodies

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Join the discussion in person

Would be great to get input on this large topic. If you are in NY on the 23rd please come on out to a screening/ summit being organized by Working Films.

Info From Their Site
92Y Tribeca: Body Typed (aka Wet Dreams & False Images)
New York, NY

April 23, 2009 07:00PM to 10:00PM
Hosted by Working Films
Event Description:

Chicken & Egg Pictures and Working Films
AND Special Guest Co-Hosts The Fledgling Fund and Rooftop Films, present the next installment of STORY LEADS TO ACTION, a monthly series at the 92YTribeca Screening Room

Thursday, April 23rd at 7:00 PM

Please Join us for a Special Evening

the Power of the SHORT
to Engage, Enrage, Entertain and Initiate
LONG term transformation.

Jesse Epstein’s
"Body Typed"
a series of award-winning shorts exploring every angle (and then some) about the pursuit of physical perfection.

34x25x36 ('08)
SKIN a work-in-progress/rough-cut (to be released in 09/10)

This evening is dedicated to that gorgeous moment when the movie stops and the lights come up, the YouTube ends, and the audience wants to know: What they can do? Where to go? What to wear!

After each screening of each short there will be an interactive highly engaged discussion/brainstorming session
New York’s best and brightest activists, educators, class room teachers, community organizers and health care professionals working women and girls/men and boys health, identity and body image
Award-winning filmmaker Jesse Epstein, named by FILMMAKER MAGAZINE to be one of the "25 new faces of independent film" in 2008

Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand,
Co-Founder, Chicken & Egg Pictures/Working Films

Jesse Epstein walks out with a more advanced understanding of how her serious and and seriously funny & engaging shorts can be used effectively
to promote a more healthy, evolved, aware and engaged NEW YORK and support the ongoing work of the best/brightest activists and educators etc... (no pressure).

The audience walks out knowing a little more about what linking filmmaking to organizing, “community engagement” and how story leads to action.

7:00 pm

200 Hudson Street
New York , NY 10013
Tickets are $12
Click here to purchase tickets


Chicken & Egg Pictures is a hybrid film fund and non-profit production
company dedicated to supporting women filmmakers who are as passionate about
the craft of storytelling as they are about the environmental, human rights
and social issues they're embracing, translating and exploring on film.

Working Films advances social, economic, environmental and racial justice by
linking non-fiction filmmaking to cutting-edge activism.

The Fledgling Fund seeks to improve the lives of vulnerable individuals, families,
and communities by supporting innovative media projects and community-based
organizations that target entrenched social problems.

Rooftop Films is known internationally as one of the most dynamic film festivals in the world.
The 2009 Summer Series will run from May through September and will feature more than 200 daring new films,
all screened outdoors, in front of big, loyal audiences in parks, along the water, and on rooftops overlooking the greatest city on earth.
More than 15,000 people attended Rooftop screenings in 2008, making it one of the most popular festivals in New York City .
The 2009 Summer Series will surely feature even bigger crowds, even more beautiful venues, and more incredible films.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

We Live in a Virtual World by David Byrne

A friend sent me this entry written by David Byrne. I posted the link but just re-read it and decided to post the whole thing....

"French public health officials are considering laws that would ban the promotion of eating disorders — including a requirement that magazines reveal the extent to which their images have been artificially retouched. It’s viewed as a public health issue because girls and boys (and men and women) are feeling increasingly ashamed of their bodies as they compare themselves to what they see all around them — images of bodies that are not real, that have been photoshopped, digitally airbrushed and heavily modified.

Of course, ever since the birth of the movie star early last century, their images have been cleaned up, improved and controlled. Celebrities and pin-ups have been with us for a long time, and the fairytale world of far-off Hollywood was always infinitely better than whatever small town reality you were living in. But it was just that — a fairytale kingdom that existed far away, with relatively few inhabitants.

The difference, I suppose, is that of quantity, not quality. These days, altered images are ubiquitous; the fairytale world threatens to engulf our own. The illusion is more complete, too — with digital technology it’s harder to see the smoothing. Stalin would have drooled at the possibilities. Almost nothing one sees in print or advertisements hasn’t been “improved” in some way, except maybe some journalistic news photos — and even those are suspect. There’s the visual field that consists of us and our friends, and then there’s the print world — certainly more dramatic, and often more physically perfect. We live in a parallel universe, slightly more drab and definitely more pudgy.

One can’t legislate the heavenly world out of existence — people need fairytales, after all — but maybe a more constant reminder to not believe everything we see would help us to retain some tenuous connection with our pathetic reality. The thing is, we can’t help believing what we see. When I look at an impossibly sexy woman on a billboard, I can tell myself that she’s been sculpted and smoothed to death, but I’m riveted and transfixed nonetheless. Instinct triumphs over intellect.

Pascal Dangin, a well-known retoucher who works on a lot of the images in fashion magazines (and for some fine artists as well), naturally doesn’t see it exactly that way. He makes photos that “improve on life,” in his words. But if I can paraphrase, he might say that he makes an image more like what it wants to be — and therefore it ends up being closer to what we desire to see. That doesn’t necessarily mean perfect — he is careful to avoid airbrushing the personality out of a person — but it does mean he’s certainly not against making quite a few (what he has determined are aesthetic) improvements.

The health departments are alarmed at the effect all this is having on young people. Boys hanker for steroids, and girls, a session with the knife, in order to look more like what they see in the magazines. Unfortunately, the magazines don’t just feature physically enhanced people — they’ve been heavily retouched as well. We would have to hand out some kind of high-tech, rose colored, photoshopping glasses in order to achieve a visual simulation of the media population."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sundance Short Film Showcase

Just got back from SLC Utah. Wet Dreams and False Images was part of a line-up of shorts. Hadn't actually seen any of the other films beforehand. They were great -- really diverse subjects and styles. Fun to get to know the other filmmakers.

We even went practice skydiving which was pretty hysterical. Basically you suit up and enter this wind tunnel/ turbine and get to pretend to be a superhero.

But the real highlight was getting to do a workshop at Spyhop. I used to teach a documentary program called Reel Stories through Sundance and was great to be back there.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Retouching Demo

Check out this interactive look at photo retouching.

From Mannequin Madness

Got this email from a woman who sells used mannequins. Thought her comments about what mannequins sell the most was pretty interesting....

I sell used mannequins and a customer of mine came in raving about your movie which she had just seen at the Lunafest. I saw a clip of it on Youtube and I must say I was fascinated. Many of the used mannequins I sell are by Patina V, so it was real cool to see how they are made. I am going to add your clip to my upcoming blog.

Even though we offer plus size mannequins, we find they sell very slowly – everyone wants skinny mannequins. BTW, 99% of the mannequins are the market are not only skinny but also tall and youthful.

Judi Henderson-Townsend

We have the perfect body for you to buy or rent, for your window, trade-show or special event.