Phenomenal Women’s Week in Telluride continues with film at Library, 3/12

Phenomenal Women’s Week in Telluride continues with film at Library, 3/12

[click “Play” to hear Scott Doser speaking with Susan]

Phenomenal Women’s Week, an annual initiative of the San Miguel Resource Center, continues with a screening of “America the Beautiful” in the Program Room of the Wilkinson Public Library. The event takes place March 12, starting at 5 p.m. A panel discussion follows the controversial documentary.

According to an Economist  survey on beauty, medieval noblewomen swallowed arsenic and dabbed on the blood of bats to improve their complexions. Forget bleaching agents, women in 18th-century America coveted the urine of young boys to erase freckles. Cher was by far not the first: Victorian women removed ribs to give themselves waspish waistlines. The desire to be conventionally beautiful dates back to the dawn of civilization.

In America, we spend more each year on beauty than on education. ( In 2004 alone, Americans shelled out $12.4 billion – yes, billion –on cosmetic surgery.) Celebutantes such as Paris Hilton dominate newsstands, and models who weigh less than 90 pounds die from malnutrition. In almost 40,000 media messages a year, youthful Americas are told that unless you look like a supermodel or a rock star, you are not good enough for anyone to love, a message all too many swallow hook, line and sinker. According to the Ms. Foundation, up to age 12, young girls exhibit a strong and distinct sense of self-confidence. Around adolescence, however, a radical and distressing shift occurs when young bodies start showing the outward signs of puberty, changes that often trigger depression and self-doubt, body dismorphia, eating disorders and more.  Female body image is one of the more dire problems facing our society today.

Enter filmmaker Darryl Roberts. The filmmaker went on a two-year odyssey to examine our country’s obsession with physical perfection, exposing secrets, confessions, and strikingly harsh realities. Child models, plastic surgery, celebrity worship, airbrushed advertising, dangerous cosmetics: Roberts left no stoned unturned.

At the heart of “America the Beautiful” is the story of Gerren Taylor, a teenager who went from being an innocent 12-year-old girl to one of America’s next top supermodels. As she and her mother head down the bumpy road to stardom, viewers witness the push-pull between Gerren’s adolescent struggles and her adult “rites of passage” on the catwalks of Marc Jacobs, DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger, and other fashion icons.

What we see isn’t pretty.

To learn more about why Scott Doser, program coordinator at the Wilkinson Public Library, considers this film, his choice for Phenomenal Woman’s Week, so important and timely, click on the podcast.

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