“I got into filmmaking because I think media is one of the most effective tools we have for social change,” says Jesse. As a graduate student in film at NYU, she combined her interests in filmmaking and activism in her thesis—a short film about the impact of the images we see every day in magazines, ads, and posters. This became the first film in her award-winning series Body Typed.
Jesse’s films show how our society’s definition of what is beautiful influences the way people think about their bodies. In her first film, she interviews a graphic artist who edits the images we see in magazines to make models look “perfect.” He explains how he uses a computer program to erase pimples, remove wrinkles, and make people look skinnier than they really are. Jesse’s second film tells the story of a male dancer pressured into getting a nose job. Her third film focuses on mannequins, most of which are built to have bodies that would be unhealthy for a real person.
Jesse says, "Body image is such a huge topic and I‘m trying to raise the discussion through different styles and different cultural definitions of what‘s attractive.”
Jesse is adapting her short films into a full-length documentary that will examine how the definition of beauty changes across different cultures. She hopes that people will watch her movies and think twice about comparing themselves to ads on TV and in magazines.
“Part of [my] identity as a Jewish filmmaker is to produce films that explore and ask questions," says Jesse. "The desire to learn and discuss ideas has always been part of my cultural upbringing, and this definitely influences my approach to filmmaking and this project.”