THE ILLUSIONISTS is a feature-length documentary about the marketing of unattainable beauty around the world. To find out more about the film, click here.
“Fifty Nude Women” is a 12 minute documentary, set to music, and featuring hundreds of shots of women’s bodies — of all ages, shapes, sizes, and colors. The video, produced and directed by filmmaker Margot Roth, was made as a resource for those interested in seeing realistic images of women’s bodies.
When I last visited New York City in September ’09, I met up with Margot, who gave me a copy of the film: I found it thoroughly moving and inspiring. My favorite moments are those featuring women together: holding hands, laughing, and proudly showing how diverse female bodies can be. The immediate effect upon watching the film is a feeling of kinship and closeness with all women – and a strong boost to one’s self-esteem. I keep this DVD close at hand and watch it regularly, enjoying it every time as if it were the first time. I could not recommend it more.
And now, 50 Nude Women‘s backstory. Here is how Margot got the idea to make this film.
I came up with the idea for this video a number of years ago when a male friend in his mid-twenties told me he got “grossed out” by the large breasts of a woman he had started to date. (They “hung down.”) He had never seen large breasts in person, and those he had seen in pictures were for the most part, fake (i.e., standing perfectly upright despite their magnitude).
I was rather horrified that he might break up with this woman because of his unfortunate visceral reaction to her breasts, so I ran out to find some sort of resource that would show him lots of examples of natural, realistic women’s bodies. (Wasn’t sure he could get “desensitized” in a couple of days, but at least he could get a sense of actual, real breasts…)
However, I was kinda surprised when I couldn’t find a resource like that, especially since images of women’s bodies are virtually everywhere in popular culture. (And we especially love the naked ladies!—thousands of years of art history prove our fondness.)
No doubt it’s due to the inherent beauty & appeal of the female figure itself that depictions of it carry so much power: to inspire us, to transport us, and, well, to make us buy things. But now the over-idealized woman has become such a pervasive image in print, TV, and movies, that she’s begun to sink into the collective subconscious as a standard for women. That’s the unfortunate part.
In my search for a helpful reference tool that showed women’s bodies, I did find a number of photography “art” books & erotica/porn, but the images were either overstylized, oversexualized, or both…I was looking for something very simple & straightforward.
[frame_right]https://theillusionists.org//wp-content/uploads/2010/05/jen_ellen2.gif[/frame_right]Since I work as a film editor, I thought it would be relatively easy to make a short video ‘catalogue’ that showed a variety of real women’s bodies of all ages.
So a couple years later, with the help of a lot of friends & generous people, I organized this shoot…
The women were filmed by an all-female crew in a New York City studio over a 3-day weekend. The women in this video are not professional models. They are fifty regular women from all walks of life, who volunteered to be photographed for this project. The women range in age from 21 to 95 years old. Breasts, legs, bellies, hips, backs…wrinkled skin, bulging muscles, stretch marks… all are represented in a lively montage meant solely to show what women’s bodies actually look like.
– Margot Roth, director & producer