The pangs of dangerously subtle self-loathing that go along with pretty much every Instagram browse are something that I am conscious and mindful of every day, and Hear Me Raw confronts the complex world of self-branding (particularly with regards to the wellness industry) with brave and compelling aplomb. Daniella Isaacs uses her personal and nuanced perspective to shine a light on the ‘clean living’ phenomenon that encompasses healthy eating, exercise, lifestyle, morals, priorities and visual identity on social media channels and beyond. Confronting her past experiences as a health blogger, she addresses what can be a dark and ironically toxic reality lurking underneath the Instagram filter.
Daniella (or Ella, as she stresses in multiple bids to maintain control over her identity) tells her story autobiographically, but intelligently weaves it into the narrative of a promotional clean eating talk during the height of her Insta-fame. The audience are immersed into her chaotic and obsessive philosophies around food and wellness, while at the same time witnessing a disturbing downward trajectory of anxiety and inner suffering that comes with striving for the perfect aesthetic appearance. Hypochondria is also a component of her preoccupation with living well, and Daniella is brutally honest about her personal relationships and encounters with illness, all of which blend into her destructive behaviours.
Intelligent use of lighting, sound and animated props (note the symbolic and resourceful use of a blender) help to bring Daniella’s story to life, and although at times the structure of the content feels muddled, Isaacs keeps the audience in the palm of hand and unapologetically exploits the dangerous idealism around ‘clean living’ and unpronounceable superfoods. Creatively approaching the perils of a society that greets food with virtue, her narration is blisteringly raw and personal, and admirable in its powerful yet endearing execution. Hear Me Raw feels relevant without feeling preachy or millennial-centric, and confronts delicate topics with humour, sensitivity and sincerity. Isaacs poignantly doesn’t conclude with a concrete definition of what ‘wellness’ is, but she does a wonderful job of asking us to consider what is important in our own lives, and most significantly to embrace the colour and chaos of living well.