Exclusive: Shonda Rhimes Says Unrealistic Beauty Standards for Women Are "Disturbing"

"We all should get to feel like there's something powerful and beautiful about who we are."

Shonda Rhimes
(Image credit: Archives)

Shonda Rhimes has a new gig—and this time it's not another TV show. The powerhouse creative has collaborated with an all-female crew to make short films celebrating "real stories from real women's lives," all as part of her new role as Creative Director for Dove's Real Beauty Productions.

"I always find it very disturbing to be told there is only one kind of beautiful," Rhimes told MarieClaire.com earlier this month. "The idea that all women across the spectrum are attractive and beautiful and deserve to be represented, felt very much like, how I like to live my life. I got excited about the idea that we were going to let these women come forward and tell their own stories."

The first of these short movies was released last week and centers on Cathleen Meredith, the founder of plus-sized dance group Fat Girls Dance. "You watch her video and you know within five seconds, this woman is special, she's interesting, she's funny, she's gracious and charming, but she's also wildly inspiring," Rhimes enthused. "You watch her dance for three seconds and you think, I've gotta get up on my sofa and I've gotta start dancing too—and people in my office know this, because I was dancing in my office!"

Cathleen's story was selected from a large pool of submissions, singled out for its body-positive message and Cathleen's emphasis on fearlessness. "When she's fearless, that's when she feels her most beautiful," Rhimes explained. "For me, beauty is me at the top of my game, going as hard as I can, without fear of what anyone else thinks. Believing in yourself when nobody else is believing in you is half the battle about anything."

"We're just giving a broader picture of America," she continued. "I don't care what color you are, what size you are, where you're from. It is disturbing that there's an idea that only tall, thin, willowy, size 0 woman are attractive—even for the tall, thin, willowy, size 0 woman! We all should get to feel like there's something powerful and beautiful about who we are."

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Emma Dibdin

Emma Dibdin is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles who writes about culture, mental health, and true crime. She loves owls, hates cilantro, and can find the queer subtext in literally anything.