Documentary explores consequences of retouching

The new documentary from Darling Media, Selfie, explroes the consequences that digital retouching places on the standards of beauty for women. The documentary features a diverse group of women and will be released as a feature in 2018, with previews on the Darling Media YouTube channel, beginning Sept. 13 for 10 weeks. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Darling Media

By Brooke Hill | Staff Writer

Darling Media, an emerging female-focused media company that creates content for the modern woman, joined forces with Aerie by American Eagle to produce a feature-length documentary. This will explore the real consequences of virtual standards of beauty placed on women.

“Selfie” will explore the history of retouching, its impact on media and the hidden dangers of its unchecked use in social media while also giving hope and inspiration for a new reality for women.

The film features women such as actress/singer Debby Ryan, YouTube personality Ingrid Nilsen, fashion and lifestyle blogger Niké Ojekunle, along with a diverse group of other women from ages 8 to 80. It will be released in feature length in 2018 and will be unveiled in 10 outtake previews cut to episodes available on Darling’s YouTube Channel beginning on Sept. 13, with one episode being released every week for 10 weeks.

“We came to Darling because we felt their pioneering vision was perfectly aligned with ours,” Jennifer Foyle, global brand president for Aerie, said. “Their promise to present realistic portraits of women in the media falls right in line with Aerie’s mission of presenting truthful, body-positive advertising with no retouching ever.”

The two companies are excited to continue working together to promote their similar goals.

“Aerie has been an incredible partner to us for over a year now,” Jess Trinca, senior vice president and general manager of Darling, said. “This is really the next step in bringing that partnership to the next level. We came together with the mutual desire to move the needle forward, to further our missions and demonstrate our commitment to elevating the art of being a woman and creating media that truly matters to our female audiences.”

Robbie Rogers, Baylor’s director of photography, explained that nowadays, everything is changeable with PhotoShop and each person must figure out for themselves where to draw the line with it.

“Photoshop in and of itself, it means you’re changing and altering what is really there,” Rogers said. “Photoshop was created from a photojournalist perspective to, like, help clean up an image, to make it look more like what it looked like, because cameras originally had difficulty translating that. From a marketing standpoint, Photoshop is different. It’s to help perfect the image they want to portray. So that being said, I mean Photoshop, everything is changeable. So you have to be careful with it because you want to remain authentic, you want to remain true to your subject matter, yet you’re still trying to tell a story. So it just depends where you fall on that.”

As the number of eating disorders, mental health diagnoses and body image issues skyrocket, this film plans to expose the damage the practice of retouching has had on a generation and present the alternative found in an emerging body-positive movement.

“This documentary has been a dream of mine for many years now and seeing it become a reality is so meaningful,” Darling CEO and Editor-in-Chief Sarah Dubbeldam said. “Our vision at Darling has always been to produce smart, engaging and helpful content for women to help build up their self-esteem. Whether it is in our own editorial, our advertising or any other media produced by Darling, the intention is to stop feeding into the obsession over body image and this film really exemplifies the story behind it. The documentary will address a very important issue to Darling and Aerie.”

Born out of the idea that media should focus on building up women’s self-esteem rather than feeding into the obsession over body image, writer, artist and former model Sarah Dubbeldam founded Darling Magazine in 2011 with the mission to produce smart, encouraging and meaningful content for women. Darling expands the “ideals” of beauty by presenting realistic portraits of women and never retouches or digitally edits the models or celebrities that grace its pages or website. The multimedia company works across five platforms: a print magazine with over 30,000 subscribers, online with over 224,000 page views per month, social media with nearly 400,000 followers, as well as video and live event productions.

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