The Body Positivity Project
This month I want to shine a light on the recent work our team has been making since the launch of our organization on campus. I wanted to focus specifically on our upcoming project revolving around body image. Our operational manager, Hana Lebrew, is the director for our upcoming project, Ailene Joven is the cinematographer, and our new member Kayla Pierce is the editor. I sat down with them to ask some questions for the short documentary series.
Q: What was the inspiration behind this project?
Hana: I remember growing up and feeling that my body was the image people saw of me. People that were closest to me would make comments on my body, telling me how I should change. My issues began with my weight, but the more I talked to other girls, the more I realized that body image encompassed a large range of concepts that many young women felt ashamed of: tattoos, amputees, color, thin or large, breast size, gender, sexuality, and so many more. The constant bombardment from media and from social life, from our superiors, constantly sending messages about what the “ideal” body is, and how to change yourself in order to achieve it is so integrated in our everyday life, it tells us the same thing: you shouldn’t be happy with how you look. The inspiration for this project originated from this idea, that so many women have negative feelings about how they should view their body, but to never voice their confidence. I wanted to show that other women do have a commonality in this struggle, and no one should feel alienated or shamed in being who they are.
Q: Why do you think this is an important film to create?
Ailene: Body positivity is not a brand new conversation that we are having, but in a time like this, and with how stressful 2020 has been, I think it's an especially important reminder.
Hana: Most of women’s lives (today and long before) have been spent being told how to look to satisfy someone else’s gaze, and that we should never be happy with our bodies. Today, many of these messages are being directly challenged. The idea of body positivity is gaining more speed today than ever before, but there is still so much more to be done in order to help make women confident in themselves, no matter what they look like. Embracing our differences is what makes us who we are, and that should not just stop at our bodies.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with this project?
Ailene: In any of our projects, I hope to spread a good message and inspire others to treat their bodies and minds in the best way possible. I also hope that this can open new doors for FFI.
Hana: Girls and women should be able to learn confidence in the everyday messages that are constantly around them. We should learn to support one another, not tear each other down. I want women to be able to embrace who they are, as they are. I also wanted to share ways in which women from any orientation or identity learn to cope with their inner insecurities, and how they might share those positivity's to another.
Q: How was it filming in a COVID world? Did this affect the project?
Ailene: It was definitely new and something I’ve never experienced before. We were very well prepared for weeks and that helped shooting go smoothly. Unfortunately since we were very limited in crew, it was down to just me, and the director, Hana. Between the two of us, we had to stay on track with our schedule, set up equipment, and ensure we were safe at all times.
Hana: COVID-19 certainly presented new challenges that we had never considered before. We had many fears and doubts about being able to make this idea come to life. How are we even going to film this? However, all of us realized just how important this project is, and we were that much more determined to do everything we could to make sure it became a reality. We prepped for weeks in advance, coordinated safety equipment and supplies, and continually monitored everyone’s health to ensure every safety measure could be met to its fullest extent. Shooting with a limited crew made it difficult, but cinematographer Ailene and I worked to ensure we did not give up.
Q: How did it feel to be the director for this project?
Hana: This was the first major project that I had ever directed. I had this idea in my head for a long time, and it was very surreal to actually be able to put it into action and truly visualize it the way I had hoped for. I had a lot of help from Ailene, who is not only exceptionally talented and phenomenal at her work, but who’s experience and guidance helped me learn so much about my own directing voice.
Q: How did it feel to be the cinematographer for this project?
Ailene: Being the cinematographer on this project was really fun. While we were limited in what we could do, I had a blast filming and kind of navigating this new landscape along the way.
Q: What do you want viewers to feel after watching?
Ailene: The first word that comes to mind is reassured. I want this film to remind viewers of how special they really are and how they don’t have to conform to any of society’s expectations.
Hana: I want viewers to feel confident, inspired, but more importantly, human. I want to express that viewing your body should not be some other worldly, impossible “goal” but rather, that you should view yourself as human and all that it comes with. Viewers should feel that they are not just watching a story about a girl and her body, but of a woman and her life as who she is.
Q: How was the editing process for this project?
Kayla: The editing process was quite different from my usual editing. Before, I only ever edited videos that I filmed or filmed with someone else, so I would already be aware of what I’d be working with. When I was handed over the footage, I soon realized that this was a much larger task than I had anticipated. Though the process became much easier when Hana and Ailene gave me their outlines, which was a helpful guide when editing. The biggest struggle was definitely making the cuts, at first the interview footage was about twenty-two minutes and I had to cut that down to eight and cut it down once more to five minutes. I was elated to successfully put together a video for someone else’s project and for them to be pleased with the outcome.
This project will be the first of many to come for the female film organization on Kent's campus. Not only will this be our first project, but we hope to continue this as a mini documentary series moving forward. All semester we have been working hard to complete this important video. Check out the teaser below!
Be sure to follow us on Instagram and like our Facebook page to be updated when this episode of The Body Positivity Project will be released in January 2021!