Inside Out

Shonda Rhimes’ new project says real beauty is fearless

Television’s Savior has just teamed up with Dove to create Real Beauty Productions and to tell the stories of females who are “expanding the definition of beauty” through a series of short films. Rhimes who is known for the hit shows in ABC’s Thursday night trifecta, is launching this amazing project by profiling Cathleen Meredith, founder of the plus-size dance group Fat Girls Dance.

A year ago, Meredith first started what’s now an international virtual movement when she wanted to get back into dancing. She studied under intense choreographers and kept herself accountable by creating a dance performance video per week and post them on YouTube. Since then, her close friends have joined in and it’s grown to a community of women across the world learning routines and making their own videos.

Rhimes worked with an all-women crew and picked the subjects. She chose Meredith’s body-positive journey and dance videos because they were inspiring. Rhimes explains, “The whole idea of doing this, is really finding a moment where you can portray real women and real beauty, as opposed to airbrush or just the typical standard of beauty, which is always tall and thin and looks a certain way. And so it’s been really exciting.”

Meredith (top centre) and her Fat Girls Dance crew.

According to Rhimes, Meredith was “no shrinking violet”; and it was obvious that she thought very highly of herself. “She clearly thinks that she’s amazing. I always say that she thinks she’s something, which is great.” Meredith explains that way before her obsession with dance, she started a love affair with her body that many others had a hard time accepting. They were surprised that she would have the audacity to think of herself as being beautiful. Rhimes found the idea of others being shocked that you love yourself very offensive: “Oh, you think you’re pretty, that’s so amazing.” Both Meredith and Rhimes agree that many women have probably had this reaction.  There’s a power that’s layered in being so in tune with yourself and your inner beauty, that you love it’s packaging AND dismiss the people who object to yourself love because it doesn’t match their standard.

This creator of the hottest female characters on television opens up about her definition of real beauty and why it’s important to have women’s stories told by women. It’s like asking, “How important is it for us to have air?” For a woman’s story to be told accurately, it should be told by a woman. Men have run our society for centuries and a woman’s perspective told by a man is often really only his perception of her perspective. It might be a challenge for a male to fully depict Cathleen Meredith’s persona. Meredith says that to her real beauty is fearlessness. “To me, real beauty is me at the top of my game doing something a hard as I can, with as much confidence as I can.”

Shonda Rhimes’ Thursday night trifecta on ABC gives us high expectations for her new project.

As for Rhines, she’s going to do for beauty the same thing she did for television; normalize and not diversify. “I think when women see other women that look like them, sound like them, have the same ideas as them; when you get to see a real woman on television or on screen being a model of what is beautiful, it definitely makes a difference because it makes you feel like you, too, are that thing. If the thing that you’re seeing on television seems unattainable, it’s very hard to feel like you, too, are that thing.”

 

What are some of the beauty standards that you’d like to see challenged? Leave your comments below.

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