America the Dutiful
I recently had the pleasure of partaking in a teleconference with Darryl Roberts, the filmmaker behind America the Beautiful and upcoming sequel, America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments (A Look at our Unhealthy Obsession with Dieting and Other Weighty Matters). The experience was stimulating for many reasons; the most notable perhaps, was the chance to talk with the other participants. The roster assembled by Jeanette De Patie, aka The Fat Chick, read like a “Who’s Who?” list in the world of size acceptance, Health at Every Size®, fat activism, and eating disorders*. I was thrilled to be included. The passion, dedication and determination expressed by the group were palpable as we listened to Mr. Roberts talk about his eye opening experience making his recent film. The more excited Darryl sounded, the more enthusiastic we became and by the end of the call we were in a bit of a frenzy…eager to get the word out about the movie and continue our work in promoting size diversity and challenging the discrimination perpetuated by the main stream media, diet industry, and pharmaceutical companies.
Roberts may have been preaching to the choir but he was hitting all of the right notes as he brought us along his path of discovery that included debunking the myths behind America’s “Thin Commandments” exploring the unhealthy obsession with dieting by the American people, and unveiling the discrepancies behind the rarely disputed message that in order to be healthy you have to be thin. As Darryl continued to work on the film he found more and more evidence that despite the fact that health may come in a variety of sizes, BMI continues to hold an enormous amount of unsubstantiated clout as the barometer of health and definer of obesity.
You could practically hear the choruses of amen and hallelujahs from the people on the call each time Mr. Roberts presented another revelation he experienced during his research. Here was someone who began his exploration into this arena without a bias towards our point of view and yet he was concurring with our most prized beliefs; one of which was the mainstream media’s role in defining the standards for beauty and how those homogenous images contribute to body dissatisfaction among girls and women that often result in disordered eating and full blown eating disorders.
And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Darryl Roberts told us a story.
The issue of beauty was a main focus of his first film, America the Beautiful which was an Indie film production. But, America the Beautiful 2 is being released nationally by Warner Brothers! From Indie to W.B.! This is a leap that represents not only Mr. Roberts’ skill as a film maker but how ripe the American people are to hear his point of view. And his point of view this time is going to be spread Hollywood Style!
But Hollywood is Hollywood and had to play its part in the “script.”
Darryl explained that when the P.R. campaign for the film was being discussed, Hollywood wanted the poster to be a photo of a thin, practically naked woman towel draped and standing on a scale. Darryl explained why that image would be wrong for SO MANY REASONS and they were not budging. But then he called on his “Ambassadors of Truth**” to write letters and explain why that image was completely inappropriate and incongruent with the message of the film and look out Goliath…THEY CHANGED THEIR MINDS!
I dropped the phone as I raised both arms up in a victory salute! I wasn’t on skype so I couldn’t see anyone else…but I don’t think I was the only one doing a little victory dance!!
Talk about fighting fire with fire! Hollywood is releasing a film that challenges what Hollywood says about what is beauty, who is beautiful, and points out the lies and myths about health, eating disorders, and obesity. It also exposes who has the most to gain (financially that is) from the beauty/health biz! Brilliant! So you can see this is quite the coup for Darryl Roberts and hopefully the size diversity, eating disorders prevention, and Health at Every Size movements as well!
The hour was just about up and the conversation was winding down but the energy was still growing. We agreed it was our duty to spread the word about this film and related events.
Now, bear in mind, I have not yet seen the film so I cannot fully attest that it will live up to all of my hopes and expectations but I have a sneaking suspicion that it will at least come close. And many of you may not like the poster image that was ultimately selected, but compared to the one it replaced, I think it was an improvement! If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, there is a director’s cut preview of the film being shown on August 13th at the Sofitel Hotel near the San Francisco Airport. It is showing the same weekend as the Association of Size Diversity and Health conference. Tickets are still available for both events. For those of you in other parts of the country, the film will be released in theaters and on video demand in October.
Here is an opportunity for all of us to be an “Ambassador of Truth.*” Learn about Health at Every Size® and don’t be afraid to voice a fact-based opposing view point that beauty and health come in all shapes and sizes. Educate and Illuminate!
We can be America the Dutiful!
*We didn’t do an official roll call but some of the teleconference participants were: Deb Burgard-Body Positive, Deb Lemire-Queen Bee Productions, Peggy Elam-Pearlsong Press, Jennifer Berger-About Face. If I left anyone out I apologize!
**“Ambassadors of Truth” This is how Darryl Roberts refers to the folk who are challenging the popular, and in their opinion, false assertions about the negative correlations between obesity and health. Some of these ambassadors are interviewed in the film, America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments (A Look at our Unhealthy Obsession with Dieting and Other Weighty Matters).