Looking beyond looks through the animated lens

Appearance, in any person, is generally the first thing that gets attention. Though it can get deceptive at times, mostly perceptions about an individual are carved out of it.  As the saying goes: “First impression is the last impression”, many a times it has been found to be misleading. Animation as an art form is a diverse medium that gives us a glimpse of worlds and things, which otherwise aren’t feasible in reality. It offers myriad ways to tell a tale that’s almost practically impossible to achieve in a full length live action film. Animated films have also defied norms and sternly voiced about social causes and taboos, in terms of content and its treatment. In the recent past, some of the animated films have shunned down the concepts of appearances and beauty, enabling the audience to look beyond one’s looks and embrace their true self. Few such animated shorts that looked ahead of appearance and reality, are listed below: Ms. Pretty Nose This animated short is about Linda and Steven who go on a date where Linda wears an artificial nose to enhance her beauty. The truth soon surfaces and Linda attempts to leave, disheartened. She’s stopped by Steven who also reveals about his appearance which was ‘made’ for the date. First published on YouTube in 2014, the story focuses on appearance, reality and self-acceptance. The animation is decent but could have been better. But the message that it conveys- ‘Don’t hide who you are, just be yourself!’ is a strong one and holds importance in today’s time when beautification and appearance enhancement processes are in vogue.
First Date A tale with a similar theme like the previous one, this also talks about first impressions not always being what they seem. The story finds Alex and Stacey whose first blind date takes a hilarious turn after they discover their respective truth. The best part about this animated short is that both the characters are able to accept their true self after a few embarrassing moments. The animation is pretty nice with special emphasis given on characteristics and features of the couple. The film is directed and animated by Yap Voon Meo.
Doll Face First published on YouTube in 2012, this animated piece is a disturbing as well as a sad one. It centers around the terrible consequences of cosmetic surgery. Displeased with her look and after facing rejection, an aspiring model resorts to plastic surgery that gives her the face that she desired- to look prettier. The film also, parallelly focuses on a flower pot that metaphorically represents the girl. The liquid poured on the flower represents the surgery. As the flower grows, the girl looks prettier and becomes popular. She still isn’t satisfied with her looks so she gets one more surgery (represented by the black liquid that kills the flower), which finally kills her. The style of animation demands appreciation along with the audio effects, especially in the surgery scenes, as it turns out to be quite creepy and disturbing. The message it spreads-‘the further you go away from who you truly are, the more you destroy yourself’- holds much value in the recent age with cosmetology advancing rapidly.
Screen Romance Directed by Emma Decoster, Melanie Merny, Eglantine Vittu and Tiphaine Cordiez, the film looks into a former music-hall star of the 40s, who can not stand to grow old. She becomes so desperate that she takes up literally anything to stay young, gradually sinking into delirium. She continues to aspire name and fame with which she’s accustomed to, and thus resorts to botox to retain her beauty. The entire process fails repeatedly, leaving her a deformed look, until she embraces her age and frailty represented by the audience’s applause. The film is thrilling in the beginning perfectly aided by the music and audio effects. The protagonist resembles a ceramic doll with puppet like features and also appears to be fragile in and out. The animation is commendable and reflects the message that it intends to spread.
While these are just a few instances, there surely are more that makes us love and accept ourselves the way we are. And as they say, ‘Looks fade but the heart and personality stays’, it’s all about how we wear our true selves as our armour.