How TikTok helped create an endometriosis movie

A film crew that includes Hillary Clinton and Rosario Dawson sheds light on a serious illness that is too often ignored.

The new documentary Under The waistline, focuses on the disease endometriosis. Endometriosis affects approximately 1 in 10 women worldwide and can cause debilitating pain for those affected. However, both culturally and medically, it is not a universally recognized condition.

Shannon Cohn, the creator and director of Under The waistline, wants to change that with the launch of her new film, in which she examines endometriosis through the lenses of four patients desperate for answers to their mysterious symptoms. Cohn recruited Clinton, Dawson, model Corinne Foxx, and actress Mae Whitman to executive produce the film.

news week spoke to Cohn about her important mission to educate the world about endometriosis, how she recruited the former secretary of state, and the role of social media sites like TiKTok.

what is Under The waistline?

Cohn shot the first picture for Under The waistline in 2012. Ten years later, the film is finally ready for release. She was working on several other documentaries at the time, focusing on social impact campaigns, but found new inspiration for a documentary theme.

“I had the idea that maybe an endometriosis film could actually be a catalysing tool for changes in women’s health and the disease itself, endometriosis,” Cohn says news week“Endometriosis is unique in that patients and doctors don’t seem to think the same thing. And there’s a real disconnect between the patient’s experience and the doctor’s knowledge. That’s why we have this kind of 10-year delay in diagnosis, like, what’s going on?”

Along with the cast and team behind the film, Cohn aims to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Hillary Clinton, Shannon Cohn, Endometriosis Movie
Executive Producer Hillary Rodham Clinton and Director/Producer Shannon Cohn attend the New York premiere of “Below The Belt” at the Museum of Modern Art on May 24, 2022 in New York City.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images

For those who don’t already know, endometriosis affects the female reproductive system, where layers of tissue that normally grow inside the uterus grow outside of it. The result can often cause persistent pain.

Cohn’s own experience with the disease has taught her how to communicate with people who still don’t “get it.”

“When I was a teenager trying to share my experience with someone, an adult, be it a naturopath or a doctor, my experience was not taken seriously. I wasn’t believed it’s all part of being a woman, you’re trying to get attention.

“I started having symptoms of Endo when I was 16. And I didn’t hear the word until I was 29.”

This time frame has not improved significantly since then. According to the UK Parliament’s 2020 report Endometriosis in the UK: time for a change, On average, it takes eight years from the onset of symptoms to official diagnosis.

Corinne Foxx—model, actress, and producer—also suffers from endometriosis and jumped at the chance to work with Cohn Under The waistline. “I was so amazed by her work and dedication to spreading awareness about endometriosis,” she said news week. “As soon as we connected, Shannon asked me to executive produce her next film and I couldn’t have been more honored.”

She continued, “When I’m having a bad endo day, I usually turn to social media for support. I think there are many places of comfort and community on social media. The endometriosis community is strong.”

There are millions of women on social media forming endometriosis support groups. Type the word into TikTok and videos highlighting the disease have over 1 billion views. Cohn found some contributors for Under The waistline from getting online and having conversations in the endometriosis social media community.

“Endometriosis is such an isolating disease, and social media allows you to instantly connect with millions of others who understand your pain,” Foxx said.

“There’s a reason we need to tell stories, and the fact that they have nearly 1 billion on social media is a testament to that,” Cohn said. “It’s something that has been hidden in such a tremendous way for so long. And we just have to be the stories that have to be out there.”

2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is also helping to popularize the story. All it took was an early draft of Under The waistline to convince her to jump on board according to Cohn.

“It was impressive for her and that was very satisfying [to us]. She just offered to help out in whatever way we thought would be helpful.” The idea of ​​serving as an executive producer “came naturally,” Cohn said. “She also wants to bring endometriosis into the mainstream and realizes that being attached to a project is an asset.

Shannon Cohn and the Below the Belt team
Shannon Cohn spoke onstage at the New York premiere of “Below The Belt” at the Museum of Modern Art on May 24, 2022. She was also joined by (LR) Heather Guidone, BCPA, Louise King, MD, Iris Kerin Orbuch, MD , Mae Whitman, Emily Hatch Manwaring, Jenneh Rishe, Shannon Cohn and presenter Roni Rabin
Cindy Ord/Getty Images

“I’m just grateful to her for being willing to do this and look forward to collaborating on other things.”

While Cohn saw Clinton’s involvement in this important film as professionally beneficial, personally it was a real coup. “My personal reaction is my jaw is on the floor. I am really excited. Of course, as a woman in this country, I admire her a lot.

“I actually never considered the possibility that we could ever work together professionally and the fact that that’s happening is a dream. It is wonderful.”

Foxx shares Cohn’s sentiment that high-profile executive producers will get people to finally “listen” when it comes to endometriosis. Although she believes the fact that the disease is so poorly recognized points to a larger societal problem.

“Often when women speak up, we’re not listened to or believed,” Foxx said. “The same is true for a woman speaking out about sexual assault as it is for speaking out about endometriosis. Our pain and suffering has often been minimized or ignored. like documentaries Under The waistline Allow us to take back our power and tell our stories with our voices.”

Under The waistline conducts screenings in major cities around the world to raise awareness of endometriosis while securing a distribution deal. Next up will be a special screening of the film on June 8th in London, followed by screenings in Los Angeles, Mexico City, Paris, Buenos Aires and Australia. How TikTok helped create an endometriosis movie

Rick Schindler

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