UVM senior diary entry popularized in video starring Cynthia Nixon
Natalie Charron is a reporter at Vermont Cynic, where a version of this article first appeared published.
âBe a lady,â they said. ”
Those words, repeated throughout a viral YouTube video posted by a London magazine called “Girls.” Girls. Girls âwere written by Camille Rainville, senior at the University of Vermont.
Rainville’s diary entry, which she wrote in UVM’s Howe Library and later posted to Facebook, was picked up by Claire Rothstein, the magazine’s founder, and made into a video featuring the “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon.
But Rainville is not entirely satisfied with the result.
âI think I’m more frustrated now than anything else,â she said. “I don’t think the portrayal in the video is really what I would have wanted.”
The February 24 video features Nixon reciting the diary entry, along with short clips meant to provide visual examples of the words spoken.
The words are statements that express the conflicting demands of women in today’s society, such as “don’t be too fat” and “don’t be too thin”.
Rainville wrote the words in 2018. She didn’t expect them to go viral, she said.
âAt that time in my life, I had a hard time with body image, ideas in the media and how it affected my relationship with food,â said Rainville, who specializes in nursing.
She started writing the entry during one of her lectures and finished it at the Howe Library. When she finished writing, she shared it with those close to her.
âI posted it on Facebook to my friends and then it went viral on Facebook,â Rainville said. “I’m not a writer by any means, nor any type of professional, I’m just kind of a girl in my twenties.”
Writing and journaling have been Rainville’s interests since he was a child. Rainville said she was homeschooled and her mother had her write regularly as a child.
“Whether it’s for work, or nursing school, or whatever I’m doing I’m just thinking at the end of the day [and] keeping a journal is just something I’ve been doing since I was quite a kid, âRainville said.
After Rainville’s post went viral, she was contacted by Rothstein.
âMy partner Paul, who made the video, saw it reposted on Instagram and wanted to make the film for ‘Girls. Girls. Girls,â Rothstein said. âHe comes from a family of strong women so that really spoke to him. “
Rothstein said that while Rainville was not creatively involved in the video, Rainville gave Rothstein permission to use his words.
âShe gave us her full permission to take her words and interpret them in our own way, conveying the aesthetic of the magazine, including the editing of the poem,â Rothstein said.
Rainville said she remembers the initial interaction, but after hearing nothing, she assumed nothing would happen.
“I knew it [Rothstein] had talked about using my handwriting, and I initially gave it permission in 2018, âRainville said. âThen I never heard from her, so I assumed nothing came of it. “
The video was released weeks after the verdict in the trial of former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein has been condemned to 23 years in prison for criminal sex act and rape.
Rainville said the video was released to support the #MeToo movement, which was sparked following the allegations against Weinstein.
On the afternoon of February 24, nearly two years after writing the diary, Rainville was leaving class when she received emails from friends who had seen Rothstein’s video on Facebook and YouTube.
Rainville has mixed feelings about the video’s release. At first she was excited about it, but now she feels different.
âI think the video perpetuates ideas that I was writing about that I didn’t like,â Rainville said. “Here is this video with lots of thin, white, beautiful, retouched models … that’s not really how I wanted my writing to be portrayed.”
The video features makeup models and trendy clothes, which is not what Rainville had in mind.
Rothstein wanted to use the video to encourage women to be who they want to be.
âThe pressures women face in society can come from patriarchy,â Rothstein said. “But our interpretation was that it was more about the entrenched pressures of today’s society, of the people around us, of women and men, of ourselves.”
Rainville said she would have liked more diversity in the video. While not an expert in video production, she said the visual representation of the video was not what she envisioned when writing the play.
âMy idea, I guess, was more diversity,â Rainville said. “[Video production is] not my scene, so I don’t necessarily know what that would look like, but I wasn’t writing about what the footage in the movie necessarily represents.
Rothstein recognizes that the fashion industry as a whole could improve its inclusion and diversity. She also said she was unable to include everyone she initially wanted to introduce due to time, money and cancellations issues.
âBeing self-funded and without unlimited resources and without publisher and advertising support makes it difficult to work with who we want when we want,â Rothstein said.
While Rainville isn’t sure what she wanted the video to look like, she does have a message she wanted to convey through her writing.
âWhatever standard the media perpetuates, whatever messages you get from all of these different sourcesâ¦ it’s unrealistic and it’s unattainable,â Rainville said. “Sometimes it’s better to just turn off the TV and quit Facebook.”