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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 14, 2008

'Beauty' message isn't all pretty

By Kawehi Haug
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Liza Figueroa Kravinsky

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Noon-8 p.m. today

The ARTS at Marks Garage, 1159 Nu'uanu Ave.


550-8457, www.girlfesthawaii.org

"Beauty: In the Eyes of the Beheld" screens at 4 p.m. today.

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In town to screen her debut documentary at the fifth annual GiRL FeST Film Festival, musician, actress, filmmaker and producer Liza Figueroa Kravinsky, has an unusual message: Being beautiful is overrated.

And she's serious.

Her film, "Beauty: In the Eyes of the Beheld," is an alternative take on society's obsession with the good-looking. Rather than glorifying the superficial, the subjects of the documentary, all of whom are considered beautiful, reveal what it's really like to go through life as a pretty person.

It's not all pretty, says Figueroa Kravinsky.

The challenges of the beautiful are more than skin deep, she says, citing stories from her research that include shy women who prefer not to talk about their looks and deeply unhappy beauties who seek out support groups to help them work out their issues.

Figueroa Kravinsky, who lives in Arlington, Va., will be at today's screening of her film at The ARTS at Marks Garage. A Q-and-A session will follow the screening.

We asked some questions of our own.

What was the catalyst for making the film?

I grew up hearing stories about how beautiful my grandmother was, and so one day, I decided to ask her what it was like to be so beautiful. She answered, "Eh, when you're the one, you don't think you're so pretty."

Her answer surprised me, but as time went on, I wondered if other people felt the same way about being beautiful, which led to the idea of making a documentary. So I interviewed beautiful women to get their perspective on it.

And what was the result?

The perspectives varied, obviously, but many of the women felt the same way my grandmother did.

Did you find a commonly shared experience among the women?

There were common themes that emerged. For example, all of them had experienced preferential treatment, stereotyping; they had an easier time getting jobs. It was a mixed bag of blessings and curses.

What differed from woman to woman was how they handled the common issues, which had a direct effect on how happy they were in the end.

Have you encountered any skeptics? There are worse fates than being beautiful, after all.

Every time I bring up the subject, the response is generally positive, and it tends to generate a lot of conversation ...

I did get an angry e-mail telling me that my film wasn't worth watching because society focuses too much on beauty as it is. But that's exactly my point.

Reach Kawehi Haug at khaug@honoluluadvertiser.com.