Thanks to enc over at observationmode, I came across this fantastic video. We're reading a short story about the cultural divide between a grandmother from China and an American granddaughter. Foot binding plays a role in the story, and so when I saw this film I knew it would be a perfect way to begin our discussion of unrealistic definitions of beauty today and in the past, in this country and others. Please take the time to watch:
The students were just as shocked as I was the first time I saw this video. I was taken aback when considering how absolutely the model in the magazine or on the billboard is, in fact, no longer a real person. The person at the beginning of the film no longer exists in the photo (can it be called a photo?) at the end. It is, in essence, a computer generated image. I couldn't find this person in the world if I tried. And young women couldn't ever look just like her, even if they employed every painstaking attempt at manufactured beauty they could conjure. So sad. So sad. I'm glad the students--male and female alike--seemed to genuinely appreciate our discussion, and to see how unrealistic our culture's definition of beauty truly is.
On a larger scale, they did a wonderful job making the connection between the oppression that was inherent in the practice of binding the feet of Chinese young women and the mental, spiritual and emotional oppression, the deterioration of self-confidence and love of self and self worth, that can easily take hold of women, young and old, upon constant consumption of the images like the one at the end of the video.
Thanks again, enc.