Interview and article by Sarah Jankowski
Always For Me asks Journalist, Director, and Producer Jenny McQuaile about getting started in the film industry, swimwear, body image in today’s world, and her new film Straight/Curve (out May 18th, 2018).
Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get started in the film industry?
My background has been in journalism for the past 15 years.
Six years ago I decided I wanted to learn how to tell stories visually, not with the written word, so I moved to NYC and studied documentary filmmaking.
I produced and directed a documentary TV series called The World Cup Project about 11 countries around the world that use soccer for social change.
That was an incredible experience! After that, about three years ago, I started working on Straight/Curve. It is my first feature film.
Why did you decide to make the film Straight/Curve?
This movie is for anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and thought they were not good enough.
Body Image is a very serious issue affecting young people more and more today. As is say in the film – this is a serious public health crisis. We need to start talking about it.
That is what we are doing with Straight/Curve and our new House Party Project!
In our film, you get to see and hear first-hand from teenage girls and adults about their struggles, insecurities, and what WE as adults are doing to fail the next generation.
The images we are putting out in the world and the messaging we are perpetuating is damaging and destructive and it is time we start being accountable.
With our film and our House Party Project, we want people all over the world to start having conversations in their homes about body image, representation, diversity and social media responsibility, as we believe this has to start in the home.
We want mothers to host a house party for their kids and their friends, we want sisters and best friends to have a movie night, we want co-workers to gather around a screen.
House Parties build community and we are using this to bolster the even larger body positive community.
To help facilitate house parties we have built a special Conversation & Activities Kit which will be on our website www.straightcurvefilm.com for FREE from May 18th – the same day our film is released on iTunes/Amazon and VOD.
So start planning your girls-night-in movie event!
To see a preview of the film, click here.
How did you go about the making of the film? What was your starting point and did the direction change at any point?
I started the process by meeting with some plus size models in NYC.
I was introduced to one of my Producers, Jess Lewis, who was a straight size and a plus-size model. Together we started exploring the fashion industry and where the conversation was heading around body image.
We knew pretty early on that we had to make a film about EVERY woman, not just plus size women. The conversation should be about representing people of all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, abilities, and beyond.
We wanted to make sure our film was representative of that.
How/what was the response from the fashion and magazine industry once it got out you were making Straight/Curve?
The response was amazing! We spent some time getting to know agents, models, designers, photographers, and industry professionals and began earning their trust.
I think everyone realized we wanted to make a film that was empowering and uplifting and could lead by example, not tear people down. We had no interest in ruining anybody’s reputation.
We wanted to show the fashion industry, media and society at large the damaging effects of NOT being inclusive on our next generation of young people, and also how your bottom line can increase if you diversify your clothing.
By including brands like Aerie and Lane Bryant, and designers like Christian Siriano and Becca from Chromat were able to showcase industry people who are fighting back against society’s narrow standard of beauty and are successful because of it.
Was there anything you personally learned through the process of making this film? Did anything shock or amaze you?
I am constantly shocked by the fact fashion design schools do not teach their students how to make clothes for women over a size 6 or 8. Especially since 67% of women in the US are a size 14 or over and people leaving design school have no clue how to make clothes for them. It’s a huge disconnect.
I was also amazed at the young teenage girls in the film and how openly they discussed feeling “disgusting” and “less than” because of the images they see out in the world.
That really shook me to my core.
How do you think swimwear (click to see styles at AFM) can be used to empower women?
Swimwear is the scariest item of clothing to shop for, and for that reason, I think it can also be the most empowering.
Personally, I dread shopping for swimwear, but the second I pull on a good suit or bikini that fits properly and I feel good in that all melts away and I feel like a queen.
I think most women feel this way. The key is proper fitting swimwear.
I think many women with larger chests, hips, thighs and a thinner waist haven’t always had options that provide a good fit.
What do you hope people take away from this film?
My hope is to show young girls and older women out there that you are not alone in your body image struggles.
The film also challenges the notion of health and the idea that we can judge someone’s health by just looking at their body, which is very important messaging in our oftentimes fat-phobic world.
It profiles the people who are fighting for change. I truly believe in leading by example and we hope this film shows other stakeholders out there that representing ALL women is good for business.
The goal of our House Party Project is to encourage people to have these sometimes awkward – but important – conversations in your own home! Use our conversation & activities kit to plan an event that makes you, and your friends, feel more empowered.
We want sororities to have a movie night, girlfriends to come together, moms to host screenings for their kids and their friends.
House parties are about building a community around an issue that affects us all and we hope women around the world will take us up on this offer.
Imagine if a quarter of a million women and girls gathered together for real talk about body positivity? What kind of change would be possible if women everywhere loved themselves?
That’s our goal for Straight/Curve – 250,000 conversations – 250,000 women and girls ready to spread the message about body positivity – and we want YOU to be a part of it.