Get a first look at the 2018 documentary now

By Kaitlyn Frey
September 13, 2017 11:18 AM

It’s become pretty common knowledge that celebrities and models gracing the covers of magazines, fashion spreads, advertising campaigns and even their own Instagram posts are often Photoshopped and retouched to perfection. That’s why former model Sarah Dubbeldam — who’s starred in campaigns for Target, InStyle and Budweiser — decided it was time to make a change and launched DARLING Magazine, the first (and only!) women’s magazine that refuses to retouch women’s skin or bodies.

Now, Dubbeldam’s Darling Media, in association with Aerie, proudly presents “self(i.e.),” a feature-length documentary about the search for self-esteem in a retouched world. Featuring over 80 interviews with influential women from age 8 to 80, the film explores the history and impact of retouching, as well as the dangers of its unchecked use in social media. As the number of eating disorders, mental health diagnoses, and body image issues skyrocket, “self(i.e.)” will present a hopeful alternative to impossible fake standards; one found only by rising up together to celebrate our real beauty.

The series launched Wednesday featuring Dubbeldam and model Iskra Lawrence, an #AerieREAL ambassador, who both discuss the pressure of reaching perfection.

“I felt like the sample size was right, and my body was wrong,” Lawrence shares. “I basically ended up going into battle with my body and that’s a daily battle every time you look in the mirror. Every time you see an image of a successful model or someone who you look up to who doesn’t look like you, you think you’re not good enough.”

Sarah Dubbeldam’s concept of portraying true images of women in the media caused a cultural phenomenon, which has led DARLING Media to team up with Aerie by American Eagle to create the documentary premiering. (The full length feature launches in 2018.)

“The danger is when you are trying to attain to something that isn’t real—a role model or a perceived picture of perfection of a highly ‘curated’ life — you will never attain it and always be left unfulfilled,” Dubbeldam told PeopleStyle.

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Growing up in the digital age, young women feel the pressure more than ever to be perfect just by clicking through their own phones while scrolling through meticulously curated social media feeds. “They should be encouraged to see the value in going phone-free or taking a break from social media for a time in order engage in real-time interactions,” she added. “The truth is that we all go through tough seasons because that’s the essence of being human, so we have to be free to admit that.”

Before Selfie officially premieres next year, DARLING is releasing 10 short episodes cut from the feature film on its Youtube page once a week for the next 10 weeks, featuring appearances by actress and singer Debby Ryan, Youtube star Ingrid Nilsen, fashion blogger Nikà Ojekunle and TTJ Consulting CEO Jess Weiner.

“We want women to realize that they are not alone in their struggles and that we all have an inner dialogue that informs our sense of worth and beauty. Secondly, we hope to bring awareness to the possible origins of our negative self-talk: the rampant use of retouching or negative messaging in media and advertising,” Dubbeldam said. “This film [can] build community and support around the idea of change from the inside out.”

Get your first look at the eye-opening stories shared in the first episode above.

Are you looking forward to watching Selfie in 2018? Share your thoughts in the comments below.