Filmmaker Jenny McQuaile wants to change the portrayal of what an “ideal” body looks like.
“We want to create the imagery we should see more of in the fashion industry and the media,” McQuaile tells PEOPLE of her upcoming documentary, Straight/Curve. “The film will show women of all sizes, ages and ethnicities represented. It’s so important that all women be able to look at the fashion world and magazines and see people they can look up to and relate to.”
McQuaile wants to get rid of the notion of a beauty ideal altogether, and help people embrace beauty in all forms.
“The most important message for us is that one beauty ideal is no longer better than the other,” she says. “We want to see all versions of beauty represented, and for the standards in society to shift away from the white thin ideal. The world is a melting pot of colors and shapes and ages, and the fashion industry and media should mirror that, not run away from it.”
She believes that images that portray being white and thin as something to aspire to can be harmful, especially for young women.
“Think about the millions of people who wake up every morning and look in the mirror and feel truly terrible about themselves because of the messages the fashion industry and media are putting out,” says McQuaile. “We have to empower the next generation of girls to love and respect their bodies so they can stop worrying about what they look like, and start focusing on their brain power, their skills and their strengths.”
Part of making that change is identifying why there has been such a lack of diversity in the women who appear in magazines and on runways.
“A main obstacle is the misconception surrounding health [and body weight],” says McQuaile. “The women in our film are the epitome of health – at a size 0 and at a size 18. To judge someone’s personal health by looking at their body size or shape is negligent.”
In Straight/Curve, McQuaile interviews fashion editors, designers, agents, stylists, models and more who are pioneers in their industries, and are pushing for a more inclusive view of what’s beautiful.
“I am always really excited when I meet new people from the fashion industry or media who are open to change and diversity,” she says. “It is not the norm yet, but change is happening, and I truly believe this time the change will last.”
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Part of the reason for this change is that consumers are asking for it.
“Consumers are voicing their opinions in a way they never have before with social media,” says McQuaile. “They are demanding change and more diversity, and if businesses want to keep up they will be forced to listen. The idea that you have to make a woman feel bad about herself in order to sell her something is dying out.”
She hopes her film will encourage people to keep demanding a more inclusive view of beauty.
“We want to point out the obstacles that are standing in the way, and show that these obstacles are not insurmountable,” says McQuaile. “They are easily changed if the public rise up and answer the call to action. We want people to believe that real change is on the horizon, and they can be a part of it. They can vote with their wallets and their social media accounts.”
Straight/Curve will be released in early 2017.