Simone Biles: boundary-breaking Olympic gymnast, multi-hyphenate role model and, like so many of us, not immune to the scrutiny of internet trolls.
In a new animated film titled “VS Trolls,” SK-II and Biles explore the way pressure from outside voices can affect our self-worth.
The “VS” Series comes from SK-II’s first film studio division — aptly named SK-II Studio — which was founded with the specific aim to explore and break down social pressures faced by women today. Each episode in the series is helmed by a different director and spans myriad genres and animation styles.
Biles’s episode is just one within SK-II’s overall, six-episode “VS” Series, which merges animation and live action with meaningful storytelling. Set to a vibrant, pulsing score, each episode focuses on a different Olympic athlete as they challenge their own inner demons (trolls, pressure, image obsession, rules, limitations, machinelike mindsets).
The episode was directed by Passion Pictures’s Jon Saunders and Anh Vu.
Taking an abstract approach, the series presents these pressures onscreen in the form of kaijus — “strange beasts” in Japanese — that our Olympic heroines must face head-on.
Biles’s “VS Trolls” episode also features a few Easter eggs laid out for eagle-eyed fans of the gymnast; Biles’s Dancing With the Stars dress gets a cameo, as does her real-life French bulldog Lilo.
The medals featured in the episode’s trophy cabinet scene reflect the actual number of medals Simone had under her belt at the time of production and a real-life note from Biles’s mother also gets a supporting role.
Biles’s battle with the rigid confines of beauty standards holds a central tie to SK-II’s overall #ChangeDestiny campaign, which is inspired by the stories of women from around the world. The series is meant to shed light on the pressures women face and the universal “box” they are put in to be perfect in society’s eyes.
For every audience view of SK-II Studio films, the brand will donate $1 to the #ChangeDestiny Fund in support of women pursuing their destiny to create positive change (participating organizations will be announced at a later date).