Women’s Bodies (2009), was the first documentary to criticise the exploitation of the female image for commercial, ideological and political purposes. Using images that have been broadcast on public and private TV channels in Italy over the past 30 years, the documentary has attracted enormous interest, and initiated a wide-reaching critical reflection.
The making of the documentary was driven by an urgent sense that Women, Real Women, are disappearing from our TV screens, only to be replaced by grotesque, vulgar and humiliating female representations. This loss felt huge to us: the erasure of women’s identity was happening right under our noses, but the reaction to it had been inadequate, even when it came to women. This led us to select TV images that manipulated women’s bodies with the aim of reflecting on what was happening to TV viewers, but especially to those who watched TV but did not ‘see’. We wanted to raise questions about the reasons for this erasure – a real ‘progrom’ to which we are silent spectators. As we went on with the documentary, we focused in particular on the issues of erasure of ‘’mature faces’ from TV, the use of plastic surgery to eliminate signs of time passing, and the social consequences of this erasure.
Apart from the worldwide attention the documentary has received, Women’s Bodies is also a touring project that raises awareness of the discrimination women in Italy face. Since 2009, I have travelled the Italian peninsula meeting women, men, boys and girls to reflect on, understand, and identify patterns of behaviours and specific actions that could lead to equality. Offering equal opportunities for women while protecting and valuing their difference from men.
From hundreds of public meetings, I have witnessed the development of many collective-action projects, as well as institutional interventions that foster not only personal journeys of self-awareness but also new policy-making for women. This is the most important element of my work, as it demonstrates that things can change for the better. To achieve change, and work towards the attainment of women’s rights, we need not only engagement and effort, but also a willingness to become unpopular if necessary.