Note to Self: This Is What Beautiful Looks Like

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This collaborative digital story was created by the Spring 2011 Women’s Wellness service learning practicum of my “Coming of Age in Multicultural Women’s Literature” course at the University of Colorado-Boulder. We wanted to make a digital story that challenged unrealistic and degrading images of women found in advertising and media today. We began with the question “How can I feel good about myself when everybody else tells me to feel bad?” and then brainstormed what a story in response to that question might look like. The students each wrote a scene from their own life that illustrated an answer to the question and I recorded their voiceovers into one script with a musical soundtrack. Our story begins by exposing the negative social messages we see and hear every day and then challenges those thoughts with the students’ strategies for valuing themselves as women. For each scene, the students created a “note to self” that illustrated their own positive messages. I then compiled images of these “notes” with personal photos from the students’ lives, joined by thematic photos shot at Rock Your Body Day, a fabulous event organized by CU Community Health that celebrates real bodies accomplishing real goals. As part of RYBD, the students were photographed holding signs stating what they love about their bodies and these black and white images appear in the final sequence of our piece. My class is thrilled to have their story included in “Let’s Talk About It: A Project of NOW Foundation’s Love Your Body Campaign.” I loved working with my students on this project and I applaud the honesty with which they shared their stories. We hope that Note to Self: This Is What Beautiful Looks Like will inspire all of us to create messages reminding each other that beauty is not what we don’t have, but rather what already exists in our own hearts and minds.

About otanezm

Marty OtaƱez: Associate Professor and Professional Filmmaker in the Anthropology Department, University of Colorado Denver, marty.otanez[at] Producer of public access television show on Comcast Cable Channel 57 through Denver Open Media called 'Getting High on Anthropology,'
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