Former student set to screen brand new film

Former student Natalie Cutler is changing perceptions of both herself and of the industry she’s worked in. To many, Natalie is the long-time partner of Wolves captain Danny Batth and a former beauty pageant contestant. The 27-year-old has gone from being a successful beauty queen to an aspiring filmmaker with her own production company who’s about to tour the country with her one-woman feminist show.

Natalie has produced a documentary called Not in Vain, which looks at the beauty pageant scene in the UK and shines a light on a dark underside of how beauty is perceived in India, where Natalie had previously lived for seven months. Whereas in the UK, negative stereotypes of beauty lead to sexism and an attack on your character, in India it can lead to an attack on your life, as Natalie saw when she visited the country to visit a number of inspiring victims.

Acid attacks on women are prevalent in India, as first-time filmmaker Natalie explained: “Acid attacks happen for many reasons in India but the main theme that kept coming up was of jealousy, when a man feels rejected by a woman he attacks her with acid with the mindset of ‘if I can’t have you no-one can.”

Every year the Miss Universe Great Britain pageant, which the film follows as it charts contestants from England, Wales and Scotland, chooses a charity to donate funds to. This year it was Stop Acid Attacks, an Indian-based foundation launched by victim Laxmi Agarwal who helps run a ‘Sheroes’ cafe by the Taj Mahal and who has met the Obamas and William and Kate as she has spread awareness the crime. On her documentary journey, Natalie hears of women who’ve been attacked with acid because they turned down a marriage proposal, or because they only produced daughters for their husband.

Attacking someone with acid wasn’t made a crime in India until 2013.

Natalie commented: “The foundation and the ‘Sheroes’ campaign are really starting to change the way people see this crime. The people who do this don’t know any better. Nine out of 10 times it’s people who are illiterate and have no education. It comes from ignorance. Most people would say it’s common sense not to throw acid on someone, but it doesn’t work like that everywhere if you’re from a culture that doesn’t value women in the same way we might over here. In India, they perceive beauty as an important status, so if you’re disfigured you’ll never marry.”

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