America the brave, America the beautiful: All ideals our country supposedly emulates, but sometimes, these principles are not portrayed in the right manner. In our culture today, the media often portrays America’s youth in a negative light. The media says young women should have a certain body and look a certain way in order to look more appealing, but that is not the case.
“America the Beautiful 3” directed and produced by award winner, Darryl Roberts, will be shown free of charge to students and the general public in Edwards Auditorium at the University of Rhode Island, April 7 at 6 p.m. and looks to showcase how wrong these standards can be.
This film is the third in Roberts’ series on America’s obsession with physical perfection rather than one’s natural beauty. Compared to the previous two films, “America the Beautiful 1” and “America the Beautiful 2”, “America the Beautiful 3” focuses on the sexualization of men and women and how it has manipulated the American public.
According to the America the Beautiful website, the film addresses the tough questions. Who is at fault for perpetuating these harmful standards? Is it pop culture? Could parents be to blame?
In the film, Roberts asks experts like Jean Kilbourn, Carolyn Costin, Steven Genarro and Gail Dines these questions in order find some sort of resolve.
URI’s psychology professor, Dr. Lisa Weyandt was inspired to bring the film to URI after she saw the trailer for the film. Weyandt realized that the film was getting national and international attention from viewers and decided that she wanted to bring her students to the screening. The problem however, was that the screening was to be taken place in Boston and Weyandt wouldn’t be able to bring all of her students there. Â “Why not bring (the film) to URI?” Weyandt said; and with the help of, Danielle Oster, Bailey Munro and Bergljot Gyda Gudmundsdottir, some of Weyandt’s students, the task was accomplished.
Weyandt worked closely with the communications and marketing department of URI and received sponsoring from the department of psychology, the College of Arts and Sciences, the department of gender and women’s studies and the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity to bring the film to the University.
To Weyandt, most women have one thing they don’t like about themselves and the same goes for men, and that leads to eating disorders and other harmful effects.
“It begins at a young age,” she said. “You see girls in kindergarten starting to wear clothes that are meant for adults not young women.”
Something that also drew in Weyandt’s appeal for the film was Roberts’ diverse coverage of the issue. She explained how Roberts keeps an open mind and addresses all aspects of how men and women both can be affected by the media’s portrayals of body image.
In Weyandt’s perspective women should worry more about how they respect themselves and who they are as a person rather than “focus on how they can have a butt like Kim Kardashian”
Roberts described the process of making this documentary as eye opening.
“It started after I had read an article by The American Psychology Association,” he said. “Entitled ‘Sexualization of girls’ and I saw how it portrayed women and men in the media and after doing some research on that and how these things were harming the youth I wanted to create a film that talks about how young men have access to pornography and young women are taking part in pageants.”
Roberts’ explained how one of the most rewarding things about this film is hearing families who come to watch the film tell him that because of the film they are having discussions about things they never have had before and it’s helping.
In addition, working with 17-year-old Cali Linstrom was another exciting part about making the film. In May of 2013, Linstrom and Roberts petitioned to Abercrombie and Fitch to bring an end to how they stereotyped who could wear their clothing. In the end, Linstrom’s bravery as an agent for change paid off and Abercrombie has made huge changes to their company in the past two years.
Roberts’ opinion on how the media portrays women and men is that the only ways advertisements work is if most people don’t really look like the images that are displayed. He continued by explaining how the youth viewing these images starts to cause young children and teens to become depressed and have low self-esteems.
“My hope is to open up a dialogue with adults, teachers, and parents,” he said. “So that we all can properly be informed on what healthy youth looks like.”