What woman hasn't felt the pressure to be thinner? It's hard to even imagine widespread representation of real women's bodies in the mainstream media and fashion industry when we're surrounded by images of unrealistic (sometimes even emaciated) bodies. Enter two best friends, two filmmakers and one former plus-size model who are all trying to change that.
Filmmakers Emily Sheskin and Veena Rao documented the journeys of Allison Kophach and Jenny Flores, two best friends who are determined to become beauty queens at size 22, in “There She Is” -– a 20 minute documentary that’s now available for free online.
Some may question the effectiveness of challenging the beauty status-quo through a beauty pageant, an event that arguably epitomizes superficial beauty. But as Huffington Post blogger Shannon Sutherland recently noted, Allison and Jenny’s participation in a beauty pageant doesn’t enforce the idea that beauty ("traditional" or not) is paramount, but rather creates vital visibility. Sutherland wrote:
“After watching these two women passionately participate in something they love, which just happens to be a beauty pageant, I feel that in order to even the body type playing field, we need strong women like Allison Kophach and Jenny Flores out there participating in activities that society believes they shouldn't be in…The only way beauty pageants can stop being PR vehicles for the size zero ideal is for women of all shapes to enter them and make their presence the norm.”
The release of this documentary also coincides with the fifth annual “Full Figured Fashion Week,” a New York City-based event produced by former plus size model Gwendolyn DeVoe. Although the event is about embracing women of all sizes, it also focuses on the business of plus-sized fashion (which is, after all, a $17 billion industry in the U.S.). Huffington Post blogger, and long-time Full Figured Fashion Week attendee, Stephanie Penn stresses the importance of this event for plus-sized women everywhere, noting:
"There are so many layers to women yet we rarely see the many layers of full figured women explored and highlighted. FFFweek puts the much needed and deserved spotlight on plus size women by celebrating the many hats we wear. The fashion aspect is just the icing on the cake."
The release of “There She Is” as well as Full Figured Fashion Week give us hope that we’re getting closer to a point when more women see bodies like theirs represented on the screen, in the fashion industry and beyond.
WATCH BELOW: Full Documentary "There She Is"