Appearance, Shape and Self-Image
(37 minutes)

The video THE HUMAN BODY: APPEARANCE, SHAPE, AND SELF-IMAGE is about the variety, meaning, and importance of the bodies we inhabit. The video examines 12 different facets of the human body that impact our preferences, our ideals, our attitudes, and -- perhaps most important -- our self-images.

Some of the subjects explored in THE HUMAN BODY include bulimia, anorexia, tattooing, branding, plastic surgery, scarification, body prejudices and "weightism," the impact of "super-models" and beauty pageants, the effects of aging, and cultural differences in ideas about who is beautiful.

In each case, the power, subtlety, and significance of the body is explored. Using the powerful evidence of their own lives, the people in THE HUMAN BODY demonstrate how each of us is dramatically affected by the strong attitudes, preferences, and feelings we have about our own body.

Here is what reviewers are saying about THE HUMAN BODY:

"In clear, concise, and sometimes poignant ways, THE HUMAN BODY lays bare the many facets of our culture's preoccupation with, and effects of, physical appearance. Students cannot watch THE HUMAN BODY without wanting to discuss and debate the issues it raises. It is that good; that compelling. And the more matters such as weight discrimination, eating disorders, and other excesses in the name of youth and beauty are discussed, the greater the chances we will deal more sensibly with such matters in the future."
---Mark L. Knapp, Jones Centennial Professor in Communication, University of Texas, co-author "Nonverbal Communication and Human Interaction."

"In THE HUMAN BODY, Archer continues his exploration of the world of nonverbal behavior. This video deals sensitively and in a thought- provoking manner with body image and our personal relation to our body. His use of candid interviews remains an excellent way for the viewer to identify personally, thus intensifying the impact and allowing a wide range of responses. This video touches on numerous topics that are important in today's society and does so in a way that is sure to stimulate very profitable discussion in class, as well as personal insight.
     "This video is emotionally compelling and it engages the empathy of the viewer. The women who talked about eating disorders really got to me, and I marvel at how Archer can get people to be so real and frank in front of the camera.
     "The non-judgmental tone of the video will keep the interest of college students who are so involved with their bodies--through decoration, piercing, tattooing, controlling their weight, changing the body through surgery-- while helping them to understand these phenomena at both a personal and a societal level. This excellent film should be shown in many classes."
---Judith Hall, Professor of Psychology, Northeastern University, former Editor, "The Journal of Nonverbal Behavior."

"THE HUMAN BODY is a fantastic teaching tool because it captures students' attention and makes them look at the world in new ways. My students loved the way that the film uses real people, highlights cross-cultural differences in beauty ideals, and reveals the human costs of trying to live up to "barbie doll" standards. The segments on branding, scarring, piercing, and tattooing are especially effective in helping students see how the body is a vehicle for expressing both individual identity and social conformity. After showing THE HUMAN BODY to a class of over 100 students, we had a provocative discussion that was both emotional and academic. Students spoke of personal experiences but also discussed the social and psychological processes that undergird our understandings of our own and others' bodies.
     "THE HUMAN BODY is a fantastic introduction to a variety of social and personal issues that confront young people today. Showing the film is a wonderful way to begin a discussion of the many ways that gender is linked to self-image, self-presentation, deviance, conformity, and social control. The film does a masterful job of illustrating how unrealistic beauty ideals at the societal level are linked to eating disorders at the individual level and how people struggle to overcome them. Perhaps most importantly, the film gives students a first-hand look at how beauty standards differ across cultures. THE HUMAN BODY is ideal for use in courses on gender, social psychology, socialization, and popular culture."
---Scott Coltrane, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Riverside

"Dane Archer's videos on nonverbal communication are now an integral component of several of my courses--from introductory sociology to topical courses on emotions, gender, and social interaction. Student reactions to the video series have been terrific, and I'm routinely asked if there are other videos in the series to be viewed.
     "Having screened Archer's latest video, THE HUMAN BODY: APPEARANCE, SHAPE AND SELF-IMAGE, I know that I have another excellent teaching tool at my disposal. Archer's latest video will be the perfect addition to my course on gender, health and body image. The video offers fascinating visual images and first-person accounts on a range of provocative topics, including "weightism," eating disorders, cosmetic surgery, and body decoration from tattoos to scarification. The video should go a long way in helping students think about the links between these important topics.
     "I found the speakers very powerful. I loved hearing the men from the Ivory Coast and Kenya offer alternative, positive views of large women--with large women being seen as much more beautiful and thinness being seen as undesirable signs of poverty and starvation."
---Diana Dull, Ph.D., Lecturer in Sociology and Women's Studies, Sonoma State University

"This elegant and sensitive new video is an indispensible teaching tool for those of us who are looking for ways to enliven lectures on nonverbal communication, self-perception, and self-expression. Instead of lecturing to the viewer, Archer wisely steps aside and lets a facinating collection of people speak directly into the camera. Tattoo artists, super models, feminist activists, anorexics, bulemics, cosmetic surgeons, and many others tell their stories. These sometimes amusing and often poignant interviews illuminate the varied ways body characteristics shape our identities and interpersonal judgments. Also, because THE HUMAN BODY is divided into several discrete segments (e.g., standards of beauty, weightism, body "enhancement") teachers can easily make use of different segments at different times. THE HUMAN BODY will engage students and make abstract concepts vivid."
---Mark Costanzo, Professor of Psychology, Claremont College

"Dane Archer's THE HUMAN BODY: APPEARANCE, SHAPE, AND SELF-IMAGE is a useful addition to a women's studies video library. It presents a broad outline of body issues of concern to feminists, from cosmetic surgery to eating disorders, in a personal yet informative manner that will appeal to students. Students who so often resist viewing the politics involved in seemingly personal matters like appearance will no doubt be moved by the words of their peers that are presented here. Instructors in introductory women's studies courses as well as sociology courses that deal with gender will find this video to be a valuable teaching tool."
---Judith Gerson, Professor of Women's Studies and Sociology, Rutgers University