Rhianna Osborne talks to Revenge of the Follicle writer and director Samantha Dutton about embracing the beasts that come with growing up as a young woman
In a world where body image is everything, a group of young New Zealand women decided to put a creative twist on critiquing one particularly prominent social standard. Revenge of the Follicle is a coming-of-age horror film that looks at the anti-body hair culture impressed upon women from adolescence. It explores the innate animalism of our bodies and their uncontrollable revenge when we desire to tame them.
What’s Revenge of the Follicle about?
The film is about an adolescent girl who struggles to fit in once she shaves for the first time and her hair keeps growing back. It explores how women look at each other’s bodies, and at that age – because there’s so much social hierarchy going on – how we look to other girls to figure out our own bodies. After [the protagonist] shaves, her body hair grows back and spirals out of control into its own being.
Where did the idea come from?
It came from my own experience and struggle with body hair; when I was in high school, I was made aware that my body hair was gross to other people and that it was a problem. I became self-conscious of it and started to shave and constantly battled the idea of having body hair.
“I want the take-home message to be a positive view, that women shouldn’t feel pressured to let others tell them what their body should look like.”
What message do you want viewers to take away from the film?
I wanted to critique femininity and the body hair culture, so I want the take-home message to be a positive view, that women shouldn’t feel pressured to let others tell them what their body should look like.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I do, because I think women should be treated equally – but I am also really passionate about female collaboration, and empowering women telling female stories so that women can see themselves
represented by other women.
Do you think the ‘standard’ of women’s body image will change in the future?
I think it’s already starting to change because of online culture, and more mediums and platforms showing diverse images and representations of people in general. I think there needs to be a collaborative view, so that everybody sees women’s body image change, but on platforms for women and directed by millennials I think it will change in that way.