Changing the View from The Changing Room

Spiritual Cinema Circle

Elisabeth Seldes Annacone began her media career on the research desk for NPR’s All Things Considered, before going on to work in film. Because of the nature of The Changing Room, which is on the March Circle DVD, we turned our discussion over to our female colleagues:

What is one of your worst changing room experiences?

Some of my worst experiences are already in the film—a model type woman coming out in the same dress and turning a maybe into a no, the ripping of the pants and getting tangled up in clothes. I never did end up on the floor crying but have felt like I was trapped in hell in there, to be sure.

How do you think males can relate to this short?

​Many men who have seen the film have shared that they can relate and have their own version of that experience—although most say that theirs is on a much smaller scale—while other men have said that they had no idea how bad it was for women until they saw the movie, and that it really opened their eyes to how traumatic the changing room can be for women.

In the last scene, the actress found some "self-love", do you have any advice how other women can find that?

​I would say that in the last scene the actress comes to self-acceptance, which is a first step toward self-love. My advice on finding self-acceptance is to have a lot of awareness (especially around situations like this where we are trying make ourselves into someone else—as if who we are is not enough) along with a healthy ​dose of humor, which ​is key to ​realizing how human what we are feeling is.

While the experience of the main character is relatable to most women, the thinner girls are portrayed as different from the main character; but is it possible they actually relate to her in some way?

​I did want to portray those girls as having a great day shopping—as it can be fun when you are with a friend—but I ​think they do relate, as I think all of us have experienced a bad day shopping where nothing seems to fit right. I also think the thinner girls relate in a tangential way as the conversation we hear over the stall doors is about how one of their dates never notices what she's wearing. So in that sense, she'd relate because she feels invisible and frustrated in her own way.

What role do men play in perpetuating the issues brought up in The Changing Room?

This fits into the larger conversation we're having at this pivotal moment where we are shining a big light on the the myriad of ways men objectify, degrade and assault women, but that was not in my mind when I set out to make the movie—I was solely interested in shining a light on how debilitating the changing room experience can be​ and how it becomes a place where so much of our deep-rooted insecurities and internal struggle come into play.​

What about how stores' sizing can make you feel awful before you even enter the changing room, how you can be a 2 in one store and a 12 in a different store. Why is that the case?

​I completely agree and that is why I always am the one with heaps of clothes in my arms - because I never know what size I will be in any given store and it makes for an exhausting experience. My guess is it's because clothes are cut so differently between different manufacturers and countries throughout the world.​

Or the fact that stores keep the plus size section separate at all. Why?

​I agree! That only adds to the feeling of separateness and other-ness.​

Have you shown this to any retailers in order to bring these issues to their attention?

​I haven't shown it to any stores but can say that we found it hard to get any stores to permit to let us shoot in their changing rooms. At one point, when we thought we might have to build the changing rooms on a stage and shoot there, I did show the script to a changing room manufacturer who was very receptive and happy to have been made aware of it.

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