Two middle school girls in Greenwood Village, Colorado, were given an
assignment to make a film for their film class at Aspen Academy. They
put their heads together and came up with an idea for a docu-drama on
the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. Their finished product, just four
silent minutes long, has been making some serious waves.
Young Abbey evaluates her appearance in "You Are Beautiful" (You Tube Image)
Eating disorders are a scourge among young women (and young men) and our current culture
that idealizes painfully thin women in the media certainly doesn't help. According to the
National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) 20 million women and 10
million men suffer from an eating disorder. For many people the problem starts in their teens when they are faced with the natural insecurity of adolescence and trying to fit in with their peers. We often look to our elders and peers to try to figure things out -- and that includes the unrealistic images of both men and women portrayed in the media.
The film, "You Are Beautiful," follows a girl named Abbey through her suffering from the disease -- from staring unfavorably at herself in the mirror though she has a nice, slender body, through collapsing from hunger while at school. In between she shuns food and vomits what food she does take in. Finally she seeks help with a therapist. The film ends with Abbey lying in a hospital bed and reaching out for the plate of four soda crackers next to her, breaking though the barrier of the disease and reaching out for hope.
The teacher, Dan Marcus, was impressed by how meticulous the girls, Olivia Maloney and Cameron Dreyer, followed each step of the project from storyboards to the final edit. Little did Maloney and Dreyer realize that their teacher had his own history with eating disorders and that his daughter had suffered from anorexia when she was in her late teens and ended up in a treatment center after refusing to eat for three months.
Abbey shuns pizza while out with friends in "You Are Beautiful" (You Tube Image)
The girls chose the subject because they felt that it was an important issue that is facing teens today. About 500,000 teens in the U.S. are struggling with some form of eating disorder. Since few kids seek help for the problem that number could be higher. A tremendous fear of becoming fat is at the base of the disorders in many cases. Eating disorders can lead to a myriad of other health issues, including some that can lead todeath.
"We made this film because we love filmmaking, and we wanted to get the message out about eating disorders," Dreyer said. "It is a very sad problem in society today that shouldn't even be an issue."
Naturally, Maloney and Dreyer cast their friends (and one family member) in the film, and used the places they are familiar with as the backdrop for the story.
The girls are receiving a lot attention and praise for their film. "You Are Beautiful" won the Viewer's Choice Award at the Colorful Colorado Film Festival for Youth back in May. In November the film won first place in the middle school category in the My Hero International Film Festival.
Abbey finally reaches out for food in "You Are Beautiful" (You Tube Image)
It seems that perhaps the best people to get a message across to teens are other teens -- from the storyboard to the final cut. No one has said what grade Maloney and Dreyer got on the project, but it seems that they must have gotten an A+.
If these young women can create such a powerful message at the age of 13, just imagine what they will be able to do in another ten or twenty years! Their video is posted below so that you can view it for yourself.
Sources: Psychology Today, 9News, NEDA