The latest fat girl film: Brittany Runs a Marathon
With Dumplin (Netflix), Sierra Burgess is a Loser (Netflix), and Shrill (Hulu), fat girl TV is reaching the mainstream. Although it’s been almost exclusively cisgender, heteronormative, and white-centered, I think its been mostly positive and allowed a lot of plus-sized people to taste what representation in media is like. But, these movies and shows can also promote harmful stereotypes about the people they’re trying to represent. In the latest fat girl film I watched, Brittany Runs a Marathon (Prime Video),
a millennial woman doesn’t have her life together and decides to start running as a form of taking control over her life. In the first part of the movie, she gets upset about something and opens the refrigerator to eat a snack and feel better. I almost stopped watching here. I understand that some people eat their emotions, but you don’t have to be fat to do this and not all fat people do it. As much as this movie is about one person’s experience and journey, once it goes out into the world it becomes a basis for the public’s assumptions about fat people. Another moment that almost made me throw my computer away was when the woman’s doctor tells her she has to lose weight to become healthier. If you’re fat, you’ve heard this before. It actually sucks that the movie chose to do this, especially when Brittany’s lifestyle could have been improved without making it about her fatness. She drank, smoked, ate garbage food and didn’t exercise, the same as her skinny roommate. You don’t have to be thinner to exercise and be healthy, and you also don’t need to be thinner to have confidence and be loved. Although this movie ended with the main character realizing she was enough, the damage to the viewers was already done. The stereotype of lazy fat people came through loud and clear.
With that criticism in mind, I also related a lot to Brittany. People treated her differently after she lost weight, which became like a drug to her. I feel that my own fatness has made me seek validation externally from superficial places when the people that are actually worth my time care about me no matter the size. That’s the same thing that Brittany realized. Throughout the film, she also struggles with feeling like a woman- and holy shit did I get that. In our stupid world, fat women are usually bro-ified or fetishized ~deep, guttural sigh~ which really sucks. Brittany got to a weight where strangers were kind to her and she didn’t want to go back to the often sucky world of fathood. I get that, and it just makes her human. That feels true with all these fat girl films, so take em with a grain of salt and don’t be a generalizing ho!
Update: I watched Hairspray (Netflix) last night and it was great!