This was the question that was posed to the audience at Oakland Women’s Film Festival.  It was part of the remarks by Matt Keck to introduce the film The Illusionists, a documentary about negative body image, consumerism and globalization.   It seemed as though the audience was caught off guard by this question, because as Matt pointed out to them, it’s a question they probably don’t stop and ask themselves, and certainly a question they don’t converse about often.  The topic of creating a Body Positive world was an important one to conclude an afternoon of female empowerment in honor of National Women’s History Month.

Check out Matt’s remarks on Creating a Body Positive World on the video below…

The festival at The New Parkway Theater started with the work of several up-and-coming teenage female filmmakers from Camp Reel Stories, as they shared their works regarding inequality in women’s leadership roles, and the stereotypes that women are subject too.  Seeing the work of our young filmmakers was an uplifting start to the afternoon.

At this event we empowered women and girls to get involved in political and social issues, encouraged women and girls to break gender stereotypes and molds.  We showcased the need to create girl-specific programs and strengthen communities that support the needs of girls, create an environment that allows women and girls to feel safe and supported, and increased women and girls’ opportunities to grow leadership skills.  

The Event Sponsors were:

Mayor of Oakland Libby Schaaf gave her remarks to introduce the next film Chisholm ’72:  Unbought and Unbossed.  Mayor Schaaf talked about the stereotypes she faces as one of very few female Mayors of a major city in the U.S.  She shared a story of how she responded to a room full of male businessmen, who commented on her appearance, and also shared one of her favorite quotes from Shirley Chisholm, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, then bring a folding chair.”  The film chronicled the journey of Shirley Chishom, the African-American female congresswoman who was the first woman to seriously run for President of the United States.  And while the “Chisholm Trail” did not lead to the Presidency, her never-say-die attitude and her refusal to cow-tow to her male counterparts paved the way for generations of women leaders to come.

The showing of the Illusionists, sponsored by Cielo House took a more serious tone, but dealt with an important theme that, to this day women still struggle with.  It uncovered the methods and the madness of the multi-billion dollar global corporations who profit from making women feel bad about their appearance.  The film cleverly pointed out some of the egregious inconsistencies within these companies, such as how Unilever, who owns Dove beauty products and recently launched a positive body image campaign, also acquired the ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream on the same day that they acquired Ultra Slim-Fast weight loss products.  The message was that corporations don’t care so much whether one is underweight or overweight, so long as you are unhappy with who you are, that makes you a better consumer.

One of the most beautiful moments of the day was when Matt, in his remarks before the film asked the audience to make a commitment to create a more body positive world by not engaging in body shaming.  Then he asked them to turn to their neighbor in the audience and tell them, “You are beautiful.”  It was a wonderfully vivid moment, in which the room let their guard down for a second and made one another feel authentically beautiful.  As Matt pointed out, it was a preview of what the world could be like if we all made the commitment to only say positive things about our own bodies and the bodies of others.

Cielo House was honored to have helped organize the Oakland Women’s Film Festival, a day that celebrated the empowerment of women through film and friendship. 

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