“Jesse Epstein is unparalleled in her ability to engage audiences by making fresh the discussion of media’s influence on notions of physical beauty. Humorous yet introspective, Epstein’s work is forthright in leading us to untangle the reasons why we hold both ourselves and others to unrealistic standards. Paradigm Shift NYC’s screening and discussion of Body Typed with Jesse Epstein was fascinating, far-reaching, very enjoyable and memorable.” — Meredith Villano, Co-Founder/Director Paradigm Shift NYC

For more info about bringing the filmmaker to your school or community center email:

Activity: Screen the films & have your students play the new Retouching Video Game!

FILMS IN ACTION #1: Watch. Write. Read.

Educators and activists using films in creative ways.

Workshop with Power Writers:
Youth at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe watch films on body image and respond with poetry.

FILMS IN ACTION #2: Media Literacy in the Barbershop

Educators and Activists using films in creative ways.

CONNECT NYC leads violence prevention workshops with men and boys, and Daralee Vazquez is an educator in Brooklyn — they teamed up to host a screening of WET DREAMS AND FALSE IMAGES in a barbershop.
(Co-hosted by the barbers featured in the film itself).


STORY LEADS TO ACTION: A workshop with Chicken & Egg Pictures, Working Films and the Fledgling Fund


Teachers have found this to be a useful post-screening activity.

From: A Body Image / Media Literacy Study Guide for BODY TYPED
Writer: Jesse Erica Epstein
Consultants: Dr. Rob Williams Action Coalition for Media Education, John Auerbach
Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Activity) Body Image Art Project 2

To explore messages about beauty and body image and to facilitate a way for students to share their experience.

Origami squares of many colors but equal sizes. Additional origami paper with patterns and any other paper that is available. Scissors, glue sticks and Scotch tape.

Explanation of Materials:
Students should use one equivalent sized origami square as a background, and the rest of the paper is to be cut up and pasted on the square to create an image.

Ask students to close their eyes while you slowly read the following:

Think of a time when you received a message about your body—or there was an expectation about how you “should look.” It could be a positive or negative message. How does this message relate to your cultural background? Think of the details — How old were you? Who was there or was around you? What time of day was it? What colors were there? Which smells? What season was it? If you think of the experience as having a beginning, middle and end, how would you describe the story?

When you have the details in your mind and have thought through the experience with as many visual details as possible, open your eyes and take one origami square. Then, with the rest of the paper, cut and paste to create a visual image that represents the experience.

Wrap-up Discussion Questions:

  • Was there anything you learned from the stories as a whole? What were the similarities and differences?
  • Did this activity change the way you think about beauty in any way? How?
  • How did it feel to have someone tell your story?
  • How was it to tell someone else’s story?


* This activity is adapted from A Patchwork of Our Lives: Oral History Quilts in Intercultrural Communication, Cynthia Cohen, Cambridge Oral History Project (1999).


For their digital convergence class, students were asked to create wordpress blogs and write about the content of the film. Really happy that the film was used in this way, and some really cool discussions took place, here’s a taste and some links…

“So here it is – my first post for Digital Media Convergence is about a topic both pertinent to the class, the industry, and the current culture we live in. Photoshop began as a software used to manipulate photos but has now turned into a phrase that describes photo manipulation in general. Twenty years ago our parents never heard the phrase, “That was totally photos photoshoped.” More here:

“When watching the video, “Wet Dreams and False Images”, I was shocked that the men in the barber shop did not think that the photographs of the women were edited. I cannot believe that the men thought that women could truly look that perfect and were judging other females based off those images.” More interesting observations at:

“But are they really improved? Can images that appear in magazines, commercials and all over the Internet really improve society? Yes, these products may be selling off the charts and businesses may be booming, but in turn girls and young women are internally and emotionally killing themselves with unrealistic images and expectations of what they have to live up to, but never will.” More at:

“At the end of the day, the most important thing is for the audience to be entertained. If that mission is accomplished, the show should be considered a success. While some may argue that photoshop allows producers to falsely depict the beauty of models, if the audience (or consumers in this case) are happy with what they are receiving, then the end justifies the means.”

“Photoshop is an art form and needs to be viewed as such. If only society could learn to accept true and natural beauty.” More:


PBS Created a great lesson plan for 34x25x36!

By the end of this lesson, students will:

  • Analyze how beauty ideals represented in mannequins and advertisements are designed to sell products.
  • Explain how poor body image can lead to unhealthy behaviors.
  • Design advertisements that send healthy messages about body image.

SUBJECTS: Current events, language arts, health


LENGTH OF FILM: Approximately 7 minutes

Dotted lines

Note: This film repeatedly shows nude female mannequin forms. Please preview before classroom use.

    • Begin by watching the film. Focus student viewing and ask students to take notes on how the image of beauty represented by these mannequins is determined.


    • Ask students whether or not they agree that the mannequins shown in the film represent the ideal woman’s body. Why or why not? How might the ideal of beauty represented by the mannequins get people to make purchases?


    • Show students examples of recent advertisements from magazines, television and/or the Internet and ask them to identify the messages about body image that these advertisements are sending. Possible messages might include that you have to have the ideal body type in order to have fun or be considered attractive or that your value to society is determined by how you look. Again, how might the ideals of beauty represented in these advertisements help sell products?

Ask students to read and discuss the fact sheet Media’s Effect


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