Friday, June 20, 2008

When Do You Feel Beautiful?

Last night I saw a powerful and disturbing film America the Beautiful and met its amazing filmmaker, Darryl Roberts. Thanks to The Emily Program Foundation for bringing him to Minneapolis.

I can say a lot about both the film and Darryl. But the most important thing is, GO SEE IT! And TAKE ALL YOUR FRIENDS! (It's R-rated due to something Eve Ensler says in an interview but is far more appropriate for teens than any other R-rated movie I can think of.)

After getting home, I kept thinking about the film and what I can do to help pre-teen and teen girls believe in and honor their inner beauty and fight the popular media who hold their self-esteem hostage.

From my fan email to Darryl at 1.30 am this morning: Your film moved me so deeply – I’m very grateful that you’ve made such a powerful film and that your motivation for doing it is so personal and genuine. Your powerful spirit and conviction come through so strongly in the film and in person. Having heard about the film from my friend Carolyn Costin, I’ve been eagerly waiting to see it.

My personal passion and life mission is to help girls recognize the value of their own unique spirit and experience the power of their voices in the world. That’s why my twin daughters and I started New Moon Girl Media when they were 11 years old.

For 16 years at New Moon, we’ve pioneered and developed our Share the Power method with girls ages 8-15 as creative decisionmakers to create healthy media for girls. Our mission is Bringing Girls’ Voices to the World. We’ve done this with New Moon magazine and by creating opportunities for girls to be activists in the world. And on Sept. 1, we're launching a creative online community for girls ages 8-12 that will bring these opportunities to even more girls.

The issue of New Moon magazine that I gave you is a special annual issue called “25 Beautiful Girls,” that we’ve published since 1999. The idea for this annual issue was brainstormed by our Girls Editorial Board as an antidote to the malignant “beauty as physical perfection and material excess” culture that girls and women are being drowned out by every day.

Every issue of our magazine honors girls for their inner beauty – the beauty of compassion, action and creativity. We started the “Turn Beauty Inside Out” campaign to give girls and boys, women and men, tools and space to speak the truth to popular media about the great harm our culture’s narrow and exclusionary definition of beauty causes to us all. One of the things I particularly value about your work is the compelling way you show how this warped definition of beauty hurts boys and men just as much as it hurts girls and women.

I look forward to exploring how we can work together to bring the message of America the Beautiful and Turn Beauty Inside Out to tween and teen girls and inspire them to action on behalf of their inner beauty. I am excited to envision how we can help you spread this message to girls – it will be an honor!

Readers - please comment and share YOUR ideas for how we can all help each other, and especially girls and boys, in this critical work.

And please share with me when you feel beautiful -I want to make a long, long list of when women and girls feel beautiful for who we are and what we do - not for how we look or what we own!

I can't wait to hear from you about it.


Carol said...


All I can say is: I want more than anything to bring more attention this issue, especially among young people who are being brainwashed to hate their bodies even before they have a chance to hear the healthier and more realistic view - that they are beautiful just as they are, inside and out. And of course the culture of body hatred is then constantly (and cruelly) reinforced by their peers.

I could write forever on this, but the main point I want make is: I am 100% committed to this cause, and am more than willing to quit my day job to dedicate my life to changing how women view themselves. Our society's obsession with its current beauty myth affects every woman on some level, and more than ever it is taking over (or even taking) women's lives. I ask you to please contact me to provide guidance as to what more I can be doing to raise awareness!

Thank you!

Mommy B said...

THANK YOU for bringing this incredible film to our attention! I will absolutely be first in line (along with my 14-year-old daughter and as many of her friends as I can gather and toss into my car) when ATB makes its NYC debut in August. After reading your post I immediately clicked over to Daryl's blog to express my delight.

It's so exciting that this powerful movie is making such a big impact. It's an excellent vehicle--along with the long-standing voice of New Moon--for showing kids(and adults) just how much our beauty-obsessed culture effects the thoughts and actions of everyone. I can't wait to see it!

And in response to your final question: I feel incredibly beautiful(and powerful!) when I'm working on an article, blog post or a creative piece for work. Simply because it's what I love, it's what I'm good at and it's something I can use to help others.

Nancy Gruver said...

Carol - thanks for your enthusiasm - it's what we all need. Tel us a little more about yourself - where you are and what your talents are that you want to devote to this life-saving campaign.

Nancy Gruver said...

And Mommy B - thanks for taking your daughter and others to the film when it opens in NYC - spread the word about the movie and about New Moon - I believe we need to reach girls long before they become teens. And we need to change our own thoughts and words relating to beauty. I'm starting a list of responses to When I Feel Beautiful - maybe we'll make a video for YouTube!

Shaping Youth said...

Nancy, Finally back today from being off the grid, and anxious to see the ATB premiere in S.F. next week!!

I've been chatting it up via media peers, and am hoping to attend the preview as a member of the S.F. Film Society on 8-27 to give it some press prior to the 8-29 open!

TOMORROW night it opens in L.A. so I'm going to somehow blog it tonight via p/up post (either patches of yours here or Felicia's/'Mommy B')

Important message, impt. work, and Darryl and I have been in touch re: my Body Blitz: Media Shaping Youth documentary on the trickle down impact filming at K-5 playgrounds!!! I'm hoping to interview him in full for Shaping Youth next week...

More soon, tx for this! Amy