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In a society where "celebutantes" like Paris Hilton dominate newsstands and models who weigh less than 90 pounds die from malnutrition, female body image is one of the more dire problems facing today's society. "America the Beautiful" illuminates the issue by covering every base. Child models, plastic surgery, celebrity worship, airbrushed advertising, dangerous cosmetics - no rock is left unturned. Written by
While this film is rated R, I strongly recommend you see it with your teens. Yes, there is some VERY intense footage of plastic surgery which necessitates the rating--but the film is well worth it. After all, how can kids understand how insidious our society's messages are if we sugarcoat it?! Plus, these messages bombard them constantly. Kids dying from eating disorders, perfectly normal looking teens getting plastic surgery and tons of self-hatred are all problems that are addressed in this documentary--and how the insane standards of today make these problems like an epidemic.
The film consists, among other things, of lots and lots of interviews. My daughter and I were actually surprised just how many there were and all the trouble the filmmakers went to in order to get them--such as trips to London and Milan to follow a very screwed up mother and daughter on their quest to turn her into an ultra-chi runway model. Additionally, it was surprising how many people in the fashion and cosmetic industry were willing to be filmed. However, one of the interviewees (from US Magazine) seemed incredibly hypocritical when she complained about the current obsession with beauty--considering that IS pretty much all you see in the publication.
Overall, this is a very good documentary. Even though the narration and look of the film looked a bit rough, the message really hit home. The complaints I have are all very minor (such as mentioning America in the title, as shallowness and an obsession with looks is not just an American problem). Well worth seeing and important for your kids to see. In fact, don't just show the film to them--talk about it with them.
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