This Retailer's Thought-Provoking Film Celebrates The Female Form

Photo: Courtesy of Selfridges.
We're constantly inundated with idealized, airbrushed, nipped-and-tucked images of what it means to be female. In 2016, there's also more accountability, perhaps thanks to social media and the internet being entirely integrated into our private lives: people speak out about Photoshop fails and imagery that's been overly airbrushed. Whereas that response generally comes from the bottom up, at long last, a world-famous department store is waging war on anti-woman fashion. And it's focused, appropriately enough, on underwear.

To celebrate the opening of Selfridges' new 37,000-square-foot Body Studio (filled with a vast inventory of women’s lingerie, lounge-, and sleepwear from over 150 brands), the U.K. department store commissioned a short film starring five London-based women, directed by Kathryn Ferguson. The diverse cast is made up of Rick Owens muse and collaborator (and wife) Michele Lamy, model and body activist Naomi Shimada, trans nail artist Charlie Craggs, Muslim-Thai boxing champion Ruqsana Begum, and Wah Nails founder Sharmadean Reid. Titled Incredible Machines, the short film finds this quintet getting introspective as they mull over our relationship, as women, with our bodies.
The film, choreographed by Wayne McGregor, is a gorgeous, celebratory, and relatable look at how we can be empowered by our own individuality, instead of being afraid of it. The women call out their favorite features — "my eyes," says Lamy; "my face," Reid intones — as they stretch languidly in a faux-Roman bath interior. They speak openly of how their relationship with their bodies has changed over time, and how they've come to appreciate and love what they can do with their physiques. It's the ultimate antidote to the often unbelievable images of women in their underwear that have become so customary on our screens.

"I love how different we are and all the things we represent as women," Shimada told Refinery29 of being part of the project. "Michelle [Lamy] is someone I respect so much in fashion. She really is a hero of mine who has just gone against the grain her whole life; she sets the tone for how she wants to live."
Photo: Courtesy of Selfridges.

"For so long, underwear advertising has been dominated by sexualized imagery of women in heightened poses and impossible designs," Ferguson told Vice. "When in reality, this is worlds apart from the everyday act of putting on your pants and the choices we make in the morning." She hopes viewers are inspired by the film's honest portrayal of how these women see themselves and how they choose to celebrate their bodies.

Shimada hopes to see more campaigns like this in the future: "I was talking about it with my amazing little sister, and we both agreed that it feels crazy that every time we see a little diversity in mainstream campaigns it’s still ‘refreshing’," she says. "This should be the norm, not an anomaly!"

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