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Systematically bound, day after day, the stunted feet began to take on the coveted look of that profoundly sensuous image, the lotus bulb. Today there are fewer than 400 women with bound feet among the 1.25 billion people of China. Most of them are over 80 years old. Some of these women tell us of the event that branded their lives with its singular mark. Once an erotic symbol of beauty and eligibility, the bound foot confronts us with a custom that subjugated women to a brutal beauty myth.
Experts agree that dialogue and openness are two keys to solving a complicated social and psychological problem. This candid and thought-provoking video illustrates how such methods might work. In it, seven diverse college-age women share their feelings about their bodies during a three-day retreat. They explore some of the complex sources of their feelings and examine images of women’s bodies in mass media. The discussions are at times humorous and at times powerfully moving, and include often-dramatic interactions between the seven women as they challenge one another’s perceptions and stereotypes. The group is led by Dr. Michelle Wolf, Professor of Communications at San Francisco State Univ. and a noted researcher on body-image issues. She encourages the participants to articulate their frequently strong feelings about their bodies and guides them toward understanding those feelings and developing self-esteem and body acceptance. In the final segment of the video, the women explore possible solutions for themselves, for other women, parents, and authority figures such as teachers. “Body Image: The Quest for Perfection” is sure to arouse and hold the interest of college students, who will empathize with the young women who are featured.