UC Berkeley Library

Women's Bodies & Gender Identity

Africa Rising: The Grassroots Movement to End Female Genital Mutilation

Depicts the efforts of local African political activists to end the practice of female genital mutilation in Africa, an act that can lead to medical complications or even death. Also capturing the stories of victims, their families and friends, the film follows various activists in countries such as Tanzania, Somalia, Kenya and Mali, as they meet with school children, local communities, and others in attempting to change the 5,000 year-old custom. Directed and produced by Paula Heredia. 2009. 62 min.

America the Beautiful

Filmmaker Darryl Roberts goes on a five year journey to examine America's new obsession: physical perfection. Seeking answers from celebrities, media, academia, as well as everyday Americans, Roberts delves into the origins and deadly risks of our nation's quest for physical perfection and shows how these increasingly unattainable images contribute greatly to the rise in low self-esteem, body dismorphia, and eating disorders for young women and girls who also happen to be the beauty industry's largest consumers. Who actually benefits from this high-priced journey towards this ideal?

Barbie Nation: An Unauthorized Tour.

Journeying from Barbie conventions to anti-Barbie demonstrations, from girls' play dates to Barbie web pages, Barbie Nation plumbs the international cult of the Barbie doll, telling the Barbie stories of diverse men, women and children. Explores the history of the Barbie doll, through older and contemporary clips. Includes interviews with Barbie fans, foes, and fetishists; people of all ages and sexes who either covet or revile Barbie. Visits conventions and auctions, where early dolls and memorabilia are bought and sold.

Beautopia

Documents the world of actual and aspiring fashion models and supermodels. Four young women models are followed around the globe as they attempt to become superstars. Balanced with interviews with established models such as Lauren Hutton, Elle MacPherson, and Claudia Schiffer, the film contrasts the sobering reality of the business of beauty with its false promises, competition and rejection to the fairy tale images in the young models' heads. Director/producer/writer, Katharina Otto. 1993.104 min.

Beauty in China

These days, ambitious young women in China feel they have to Westernize their appearance through plastic surgery in order to get ahead. To accomplish the "right look," they visit surgeons to have their legs lengthened, their eyes westernized, and their breasts enlarged. Some of the women end up with terrible physical problems as a result. Every week some 16,000 Chinese undergo face surgery. The film includes a beauty contest for "Miss Nip & Tuck," in which all the contestants are women who have had plastic surgery.

Beauty Mark: Body Image & the Race for Perfection

Diana Israel, a Boulder-based psychotherapist and former champion triathlete, talks candidly about her long and agonizing personal struggle with eating disorders and obsessive exercising, fearlessly confronting her own painful past as she attempt to come to terms with American culture's unhealthy fixation on self-destructive ideals of beauty and competitiveness. The film lends context to Israel's personal odyssey with fascinating insights from athletes, bodybuilders, fashion models, and inner-city teens, as well as prominent cultural critics and authors.

Becoming Barbie.

This documentary provides a compelling look at body image issues and the role the media plays in promoting certain ideals for women. It examines eating disorders that have become commonplace in society and looks at the influence of the Barbie doll on young girls. Powerful media images, in particular in the fashion and advertising industry, serve as a backdrop for insights into the virtually impossible and highly dangerous physical goals that so many women strive to achieve.

Bionic Beauty Salon

An educational and entertaining documentary addressing the insecurities of women of all ages who learn to place their self-worth in the measure of their beauty. The film offers a model for how to reclaim the media and find one's true self through six remarkable teenage girls who speak about their struggles with feminine identity. Dist.: New Day Films. c1999. 22 min.

Body Perfect (Taboo series)

Mentawai women in Sumatra file their teeth to sharp points, American men get buttocks implants, and Chinese men and women having their legs surgically lengthened to make them taller. How far would you go to match your culture's ideal of beauty? Originally broadcast on the National Georgaphic Channel in 2004. 48 min.

Body Politics

Around the world, takes a look at women's efforts to change societal attitudes about the "ideal" female form. Featuring historical footage and propaganda from the 19th century, when women were pressured to wear corsets, to the 40s and 50s picturing the "ideal" female figure, to the 1990s, the film presents an interesting contrast with contemporary women who are challenging old attitudes. Women boxers, rock climbers, and runners are seen challenging old assumptions about women's physical abilities.

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