Q1. What were your aims in making this film?
We wanted to show a balance in the experiences of the women interviewed, so the participants were carefully selected to show a range of feelings towards their surgery. The Director shaped the narrative to reflect the responses in an emotive way.
Q2. Why is animation used to explore this subject?
There are a few reasons why animation was the chosen medium to represent the subject. Firstly, it enabled the participants to speak freely without risk of being identified. Many women feel private about their decision to undergo surgery of the genitals, the women featured in the film were happy to speak given that their faces were not shown. Secondly, the style of animation – limited colour palette and line drawing, is able to communicate the thoughts and feelings of the women directly to the audience through simplicity. Thirdly, in discussing the ‘real’ subject of animation in a medium most traditionally associated with ‘fantasy’ the film is able to employ fantastical elements such as the characters flying sequence to communicate.
Q3. How did you locate the participants?
This was a difficult task. We worked with private plastic surgeons and universities undergoing similar research studies. We also posted in internet forums. We wanted the women to come forward on their own terms. So we wrote a generic letter, explaining the project and it’s aims and provided contact details. This was given to women who had undergone surgery and it was up to them if they wanted to contact us.
Q4. What themes are you exploring in the film?
Many of the themes in the film come from the participants own stories and the research of our medical partners. Women’s anxiety towards their genitals and surgery are common, the characterization and facial expressions of the main character were specifically designed to reflect this. The idealization of beauty through consumerism is represented in the first half of the film through the characters long walk through shopping streets and malls. Women’s anxiety about ‘what is normal’ is shown through the character searching for images of ‘perfect labia’ in pornography. The repetition of the sequences showing the character looking in the mirror talks about body anxiety. The flying sequence purposely shows the tensions one woman has with her labia, the elation of having the surgery and the hatred in the reality of how her particular surgery turned out.
Q5. Why is this film important?
The film discusses a subject that is increasingly coming to the fore in women’s consciousness and provides a balanced viewpoint in order to promote informed thinking in contrast to other existing forms of media about labia surgery.
We will be uploading more FAQ’s featuring our partner’s research in the future.