Body Image (2017)

In a society focused on beauty and being thin, one woman’s obsession with maintaining a low weight leads her to go to extremes to achieve it.

Written and directed by Kim Garland, this short film explores society’s obsession with its own beauty standards and how this affects one woman trying to make it in that society. Kin Garland’s eye on this subject is unflinching and she shows the realities of such pressure in a more extreme and gruesome manner that hits home for some viewers and will help others understand the anguish and stress imposed by high and impossible standards. Garland’s approach to the subject is a bit brutal but quite effective, showing that sometimes, hitting hard is the best way to make a point.

Body Image stars one single actress, Jocelyn Vammer, as Abby, the woman standing in the bathroom, in front of the mirror, scrutinizing her own image, comparing herself to what she thinks she should be and to what society imposes as the beauty standard for the woman’s body. Her work here is emotionally charged yet mostly understated and nuanced. As her character advances on her obsession with being thin and how to stay this way, her performance amps up, this is the kind of performances that can be referred to as brace, courageous, and touching.

The bathroom setting for this short, with the sole character in front of the mirror most of the time, creates a claustrophobic feeling while making sure everything revolves around her and how she deals with the societal pressure to be and stay a certain way. The cinematography by Ian Choplick makes great use of the small space and the mirror to close in onto the lead, making it all about her and her emotions. The images are carefully framed and work with the story enhancing the lead’s internal turmoil.

As the film advances, the mental anguish felt by Abby takes a physical toll and special effects by Ashley K. Thomas are used to great effect, creating a visual representation for the issues brought to the screen. This visual representation is impressive and gross in just the right way. The gore is used as a jarring effect to the viewer to bring home the points being made, to truly show how deep the issues brought to the screen can affect their victims.

Body Image is a strong short film that brings forth the mental and physical impact that comes from the pressure to be thin and society’s unattainable beauty standards. The way the subject is approached is masterful and respectful. The female eye applied here gives extra insight on something that affects most women living today. This short film takes it to the extreme and brings self-inflicted damage and gore into it to show the full extent of the anguish and pain these beauty standards can bring.

Director Kim Garland has recently make Body Image available on Vimeo for all to watch.