Body consciousness, body positivity, but also body shaming have been among the issues resonating in the feminist discourse for ages. What is beautiful when it comes to one’s body, what colour and size? What is the beautiful nose, chin, or eyelid? Do women need to look at own body through the eyes of random strangers? These are some of the issues mentioned in the short documentary “Me and My Beautiful Body” by Mr. Stephane Lambert.
The more the various aspects of women’s bodies are discussed, the more the debate seems to be necessary. You can dig into the history of beauty concepts and trends, look for the motives that lead people to change their shapes and colours across centuries or years, waves, ideologies, and fields of professional realization. You can search the individual arguments, or aim for wider contexts. Many layers of the discourse are global (breasts). Yet you can always find culturally specific issues (eyelids) that might add a spin to your work. Moreover, you don’t even have to limit yourself to one gender.
“Me and My Beautiful Body” does none of it. Instead, it presents an old-fashioned catalog of women answering questions related to cosmetic surgery they underwent. We get to learn their reasons – mostly job or boyfriend -, the pains, and the joys of the new body. Randomly, private or illustrational photos cut into the flow of talking heads. On one hand, we could praise Lambert for not being judgmental about the private decisions. On the other “Me and My Beautiful Body” offers no point you would like to develop further. Somehow, all that neutral position that Lambert adopts leads nowhere and it shows. And none of the funky and playful background effects helps in any way.
With minimum creativity, “Me and My Beautiful Body” doesn’t go beyond a TV show special that lacks the host. Especially if we take into account how far in the past the history of the issue goes or fiction films that tackle it in more precise and poignant ways. All the women in the film work or worked in a field demanding a certain level of being pretty. Yet, it doesn’t call out or question any of these industries for the impact they have on the choices made (not only) by the protagonists. Moreover, it doesn’t even see a problem in the obscure concept of what is beautiful itself. It rests comfortably just with the idea of seemingly free decisions of getting a boob job, nose job, chin job, eyelid job. Without a blink, “Me and My Beautiful Body” divides the womankind into those who become beautiful and those who don’t.
There might have been a good intention behind “Me and My Beautiful Body”. Unfortunately, we’ll never know as it doesn’t show. It stands “neutral” between big breasted women and unlisted good reasons to undergo painful procedures. Because, obviously, it is perfectly alright to become a tool of your work field rather than an agent.