A couple of weeks ago I talked about research that proves that gender stereotypes are alive and well in Hollywood. Now a friend has sent me the perfect antidote: “Plastic”, a beautiful, clever short film written and directed by an award-winning young Australian woman, Sandy Widyanata.
As the film begins, we see Anna nervously preparing for a first date with Henry, a man she has secretly loved for years. She has nothing to wear, there’s a huge pimple on her nose and she feels fat. If only she could change a few things and look a bit more like those girls in beauty magazines . . .
Anna discovers that she can do the impossible and can sculpt her body to look just the way she wants. Would you do the same if you could? And how far is too far?
I don’t want to give too much away — it really is worth spending the 6 or so minutes to see how the story unfolds. The film is a great discussion starter for teen girls. It raises interesting questions about what real beauty is, what we really need in order to be happy and what it means to be true to yourself. And best of all, it is also simply a great film, so girls are just entranced. Enjoy the film, and then take a look at the suggested lesson plan activities below.
A big thank you to Kellie Mackerath, who told me about this film. Kellie used to be a teacher and an Enlighten presenter, and now works full-time at NIDA and directs theatre. She has these great suggestions for classroom activities after screening “Plastic”:
— The film opens with an image of a moth. Like a butterfly, a moth can symbolise transformation. As you watch the film again, plot the journey of the moth. How does its journey relate to Anna’s story?
— What are the images that Anna surrounds herself with in her flat? These images assist Anna to make some important decisions in the film. Which images encourage her to make positive decisions? Do an audit of your environment (including your bedroom, the places you study and your virtual spaces). What images/messages are you surrounding yourself with? In the classroom, create a wall of images and messages that inspire you.
— The magazine in Anna’s bathroom is called Real Beauty. In your own words, define what you believe “real beauty” is. As a group, create your own “Real Beauty” magazine.
Thanks also to Sharon Witt, author of the Teen Talk books,
for these valuable discussion starters:
— If you had the power to mould your body into the ideal you believe in, what parts would you change and why?
— Do you think changing these parts of your body would make you any happier?
— Towards the end of the film, when the moth lands on the side table next to the photograph of Anna, did you feel she was more beautiful in the photograph? Why?