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The Unlearning Handbook

The purpose of The Unlearning Handbook is to educate people about the racist and colonial roots of eurocentric body standards.

Society places beauty ideals on a girl's appearance from birth that primarily stems from features prevalent in European genetics. These beauty standards can be extremely harmful as they deem natural body features as “ugly” and in some cases “unprofessional”, leading to the marginalization of BIPOC women in academic or career settings. The aim of this project is to empower women and gender minorities, with a specific focus on BIPOC women. The aim is for the community of gender minorities to learn that they don’t need to change themselves, that we must change society’s ideals of beauty and self-worth.

I created a 6 and a 1/2 minute introductory documentary-style video for YouTube that will introduce the topic, define key terms, and provide interview clips from a variety of women and gender minorities. https://youtu.be/UFmcVQN7RE4

In addition, I created six TikTok videos that will highlight specific body features. https://www.tiktok.com/@theunlearninghandbook. Full reel: https://drive.google.com/file/d/125lRLDC4Inthl-tbYE5HVLmA7LzcDu3g/view?usp=sharing

I applied for and received the Jill Gabbe Leader Fund in the amount of 1,000 USD to fund this project.

  • Vidisha Agarwalla
  • Vidisha Agarwalla
  • Rachel Feinberg
  • Vidisha Agarwalla
  • Annaliese Fagan
    Key Cast
  • Eva Guo
    Key Cast
  • Lily Mittnight
    Key Cast
  • Tiana Mudzimurema
    Key Cast
  • Jada Saintlouis
    Key Cast
    "Jada "
  • Mischa Moxey
    Key Cast
  • Lou Conrad
    Key Cast
  • Lina Lahlou
    Production Assistants
  • Chloe Berger
    Production Assistants
  • Hanieka Balint
    Production Assistants
  • Gaea Leemon
    Production Assistants
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student, Web / New Media
  • Runtime:
    6 minutes 32 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 29, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Northeastern University
Director Biography - Vidisha Agarwalla

Vidisha Agarwalla is a recent Northeastern Media and Communications BA and Creative Practice Leadership MS graduate. Vidisha created The Unlearning Handbook as a passion project to decolonize eurocentric beauty ideals. The project started as a visual guidebook and Instagram page and soon moved to video in Michelle Carr's production capstone class. Vidisha has created a 6 1/2 minute documentary style introductory video on YouTube as well as 6 short TikToks that each focus on one body part: https://www.tiktok.com/@theunlearninghandbook.

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Director Statement

I hope that anyone who watches my project is empowered to reject restrictive eurocentric ideals, embrace their natural beauty, and learns to practice body neutrality.