America the Beautiful
Film Reviewed by Kam Williams


Scathing Documentary Explores America's Unhealthy Obsession with Beauty


America the Beautiful 2: The Thin CommandmentsAmerica the Beautiful
Click to View on Amazon

Rated R for profanity and some sexual references.
Running time: 105 minutes
Studio: First Independent Pictures

 

Film Review by Kam Williams
Excellent (4 stars)

Did you know that Americans spend more money on cosmetics annually, $45 billion, than all of the developing countries combined do on healthcare? What's up with that? Are we really that ugly and in need of makeovers, or is something sinister afoot? According to Darryl Roberts, women have been duped by Madison Avenue into setting unrealistic expectations for themselves.


Darryl Roberts
Writer, Producer & Director
with BIFFY Award for Best International Documentary at the Beloit International Film Festival

Darryl is the director of America the Beautiful, a scathing indictment of the beauty industry which systematically dissects the issue from both inside and out.

This shocking expose’ not only offers insights from the perspective of impressionable teenage girls, some of whom freely admit to hating their own appearance, but also from the point-of-view of actresses, academics, talent scouts, photographers, fashion designers, TV personalities and runway models, all of whom, it seems, have long since capitulated to the narrowly-defined appreciation of only one idealized body type.

The picture is designed to drive home the point that the airbrushed and digitally-altered standard of beauty popularized by advertisers and the mainstream media are unattainable, because not even the models in the magazine ads and TV commercials look like that. Nonetheless, the manipulation instills a sense of dissatisfaction which in turn leads to a craving for ever more makeup, diet aids and plastic surgery in the elusive quest to measure up.

Like a black version of Michael Moore, Mr. Roberts appears on camera, annoying everyone he meets by posing some variation of the probing question of the day, namely, ’Does America have an unhealthy obsession with beauty?’

Most of the responses he elicits from celebrities, unfortunately, are vapid remarks which reflect a superficial shallowness or simply shrugs which might best be interpreted as, "This is the way things are. Get used to it."

But what would you expect from the likes of a Paris Hilton or a Jessica Simpson? Ditto CosmoGirl! Editor-in-Chief Susan Schulz and the E! Channel's Ted Casablance, each of whom has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Other interviewees include Aisha Tyler, Martin Short, Mena Suvari, Julianne Moore and Tisha Campbell.


Model, Gerren Taylor

However, the contributions of all of the above are easily overshadowed by those of Gerren Taylor, a statuesque former supermodel who skyrocketed to fame a half-dozen years ago at the tender age of 12. Although the 5’11’ tall, African-American teenager has continued to blossom into quite an attractive young woman, she no longer is hired to strut her stuff up catwalks in New York, L.A. and all over the world, but now sends her days in a classroom as a high school senior.

She and her mother, Michele, allowed Darryl to follow them around during their last desperate effort to revive Gerren's career. Today, she's virtually-unemployable, because a size 4 is apparently too curvy for the leading designers. America the Beautiful is at its absolute best when sensitively illustrating the emotional toll the rejection has taken on Gerren's fragile psyche.

If a still gorgeous supermodel can so easily lose her confidence, just imagine what the effect the pressure to attain perfection must be like on the self-esteem on girls with ordinary looks.
 

 

America the Beautiful 2: The Thin CommandmentsAmerica the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments [2011]

Read an AALBC.com Review of the 2nd Installment

Black Power Line


Read More AALBC.com Film Reviews


Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors.
Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.