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Movie Review: “disFIGURED”

23rd July 2008

Movie Review: “disFIGURED”

Disfigured the movie

“disFIGURED” bills itself as a film about “women and weight,” but this is no chick flick of women bemoaning the sad, fat state of their thighs. Two women with overlapping insecurities – one is struggling with anorexia, the other with emotional overeating and morbid obesity – embark on an unlikely friendship in Glenn Glers’ directorial debut. Shot on a barebones budget of little more than unknown talent and a director’s dream, “disFIGURED” is both absorbing and evocative, sentimental but not saccharine. This is a film that shows female body-image dysfunction comes in all shapes and sizes.

Lydia (Deidra Edwards) is a fat woman struggling with the Cartesian duality of wanting to accept herself as she is while still wrestling with how her life could be if only she were thin. She joins a fat acceptance support group dedicated to fighting the fat prejudices of a thin-obsessed culture, but it soon becomes clear that the negative voices Lydia hopes most to stifle are her own. Yet even amongst her fat peers, Lydia still doesn’t quite fit in. She proposes a fat walker’s group and is harshly scolded by the militant group who see any such move as simply code for dieting.

Strangely, the only person who supports Lydia is Darcy (Staci Lawrence), a shockingly thin newcomer who wanders in mid-meeting to the open-mouthed shock of the group. Darcy identifies herself as a recovering anorexic who hopes that joining the group will allow her to finally accept her “fat” – an image only visible to Darcy herself. For group members whose weights number in the hundreds of pounds, Darcy appears both mocking and cruelly satirical. She’s voted out of the group, despite Lydia’s protestations that no one should be excluded.

The two outcasts soon strike up an uneasy friendship and in Darcy, Lydia finds a perfect parallel: Darcy is sophisticated, willowy, elegant… and mentally ill. There isn’t an ounce of fat on her body, or in her acting: She has pared himself down so remarkably her skin barely covers her soul. Darcy receives accolades and praise from an adoring public; Lydia faces taunts and jeers from strangers on the street. Yet, it soon becomes apparent that happiness isn’t found in the junior’s department. Lydia’s story reveals itself in lush, saturated colors, while Darcy’s unfolds in cold austere tones and stark black and white imagery. There are no shades of grey in Darcy’s world, both literally and metonymically. It becomes obvious that Darcy still actively struggles with anorexia, but viewers get the sense that while she is starving physically, its human connection Darcy hungers for most.

Despite Darcy’s emotional constipation, she and Lydia strike up a curious friendship that pivots uneasily on the opposite ends of the weight spectrum occupied by the women. In each other, the two find solidarity, but it’s a friendship fraught with insecurity and marked by brutal honesty. When Lydia hesitantly asks Darcy what she thinks of Lydia’s body, Darcy doesn’t sugarcoat her words. “I think it’s disgusting,” she replies without apology. Later, Lydia invites Darcy over to her pad, where she makes a major faux pas in encouraging Darcy to join her on a wild food binge. For Darcy, the idea of submitting to her own flesh and desires is inconceivable and the proposal nearly marks the death knell of the fragile friendship.

With Darcy’s help, Lydia’s walker’s group idea meets with great success – in more ways than one. When burly Bob (Ryan C. Benson) joins the group, sparks fly between him and Lydia and the two soon embark on a non-committal sexual relationship. Genuinely fat people are rarely featured in films, much less are they made the subject of a non-satirical love interest. And sexual scenes involving one or more fat partners? Unheard of. But fat sex appears perfectly au natural in “disFIGURED” and Gers deserves kudos for the film’s beautifully-constructed and artfully-shot sole sex scene. The burgeoning relationship between Lydia and Bob brings an unforced intimacy to the film that is one of its strengths. To watch their characters interact is to eavesdrop on some of life’s smallest but most universal moments.

Armed with a new love interest and a fledgling friendship, Lydia’s life appears to be making an upswing. Then Bob mentions he’s getting gastric bypass surgery, shocking Lydia out of her calm complacency and back into her deepest insecurities. She asks Darcy to give her “anorexia lessons” to which the latter reluctantly obliges.

The bizarre concept might easily have easily turned into a how-to guide paraded across pro-ana boards and studiously studied by legions of aspiring anorexics. But in Gers’ capable hands, anorexia is seen not as a glamorous way to get thin quick, but as the emotionally-devastating and all-consuming mental illness it truly is. My only quibble with Gers here is that while he responsibly shows the mental toll of anorexia, Darcy appears almost too healthy in body.

On the flip side, Gers skillfully deals with the issue of Lydia’s emotional overeating while yet stopping short of falling into the stereotype of the fat person as uncontrollable glutton. Writing about issues of eating disorders and disordered eating amongst fat people is a difficult balance to strike. There’s the danger in the implicit assumption that all fat people must have problematic relationships with food – hence explaining their obesity. But it is also very difficult to be fat (or thin) in this current culture and not have fallen victim to social cues and conditioning that reaffirms and rewards weight-loss and thinness and denigrates and degrades fatness and fat people. To ignore this reality is self-delusion, at best, and “disFIGURED” does a beautiful job of portraying the struggles many people face in light of an increasingly disordered culture.

“disFIGURED” is a film of great risk-taking. People who believe in the absolute infallibility of the calories in/calories burned weight-loss equation will likely pass by this film altogether. But nor will hardcore fat acceptance activists see this as a valentine to fat people or to the movement. To their credit, most fat acceptance circles are more inclusive than the film’s group, and very few fat activists would reject even the most shockingly thin. Anti-thin sentiments do exist amongst those in the movement, but fortunately they are thin in the ranks. Fat people have a heavier load to bear than thin people, but most fat activists recognize that weight-based discrimination is a collective fight. Despite the unlikelihoods that drive the film, the filmmaker finds so many grace notes in the humanity of his characters that it ends up feeling fiercely and emotionally real.

The often ad-libbed discussions of this wounded group of mostly women sound off on experiences that won’t come as unfamiliar to fat viewers. Their search for empowerment and self-acceptance in a crazy-hostile world doesn’t stint on desperation and anxiety, but also refreshingly includes positive affirmations and personal validations. I wish there were more voluptuous actors like this, these men and women who look like someone you might sit next to on the bus, pass on the street or even see in the image reflected in the mirror. They hold the spotlight beautifully.

“disFIGURED” has the tact and sophistication not to tie things up too tidily for either Lydia or Darcy. The film ends on a vaguely optimistic note, but it remains uncertain if any of character’s personal catharses will pan out. In the end, these characters find that while the process of healing is a step forward each has to make for herself, it’s not a journey one has to make alone.

Ultimately “disFIGURED” is less about the ways in which we treat and are treated by others and more so about the lies we tell ourselves. This is a film that shows the power of words and of speaking honestly — both with others and with ourselves. Fortunately, “disFIGURED” helps us answer the difficult question of how to start that dialogue in our own lives.

Showing in Manhattan through July 24. Widely released through major retailers (Amazon, Netflix, Blockbuster, Best Buy) on July 29.

Written and directed by Glenn Gers; director of photography, Idit Dvir; edited by Mr. Gers and Gregory Plotkin; music by Kayla Schmah; production designer, Tabitha Johnson; produced by David W. Higgins; released by Cinema Libre Studio. Cast: Deidra Edwards (Lydia), Staci Lawrence (Darcy) and Ryan C. Benson (Bob).

Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes; this film is not rated.

Website: www.disfiguredmovie.com

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008 at 11:37 am and is filed under Arts and Music, Eating Disorders, Fat Acceptance, Pop Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 38 responses to “Movie Review: “disFIGURED””

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  1. 1 On July 23rd, 2008, Charlynn said:

    I cannot wait to see this.

  2. 2 On July 23rd, 2008, Chrissy said:

    I want to host a screening at my school!

  3. 3 On July 23rd, 2008, Catgal said:

    I just pre-ordered it from Amazon and threw in a copy of Such A Pretty Fat for good measure!

  4. 4 On July 23rd, 2008, Loobie said:

    I am looking forward to seeing this film! Thank you for sharing it with me!

  5. 5 On July 24th, 2008, Marilyn Wann said:

    I can only hope that no one in Manhattan bothers to see this movie and it gathers dust on dvd sellers’ shelves.

    In the bad, old days, LGBT people sometimes expressed gratitude for any representation of queer characters in movies, even when they were always the axe-murderer. This movie depicts fat activists with a straw man attack, lying about us and exaggerating until it can easily dismiss us. And it does us this disservice for what? For a vision of the world where everybody is mired in body hate, and the best we can hope for is perhaps to talk about how much we hate ourselves? As one viewer of this movie at the NAAFA convention said, “This movie is 30 years out of date!”

    I am not grateful for any movie that does me and my community such a disservice, especially one that has not positive alternative vision, just more of the same self-hate.

    I am glad that fat bloggers and fat activists of other methods do a far better job of raising questions and offering meaningful responses than this movie. We don’t need its paltry efforts to do a job we’re already more than fabulous at doing.

  6. 6 On July 24th, 2008, Lois Waller said:

    Thank you, Marilyn.

    On what planet are fat activists and fat acceptance advocates exclusionary and anti-exercise?

  7. 7 On July 25th, 2008, Rachel said:

    I can only hope that no one in Manhattan bothers to see this movie and it gathers dust on dvd sellers’ shelves.

    Speaking as someone who has encountered the same kinds of fat acceptance activists shown in this film, I think willfully ignoring the fact that people like this exist do us or the movement no service, either. And I hope people would at least see the movie first before they roundly condemn it.

  8. 8 On July 25th, 2008, attrice said:

    Of course it might have been better (I have not yet seen the film) if the FA group was given a bit more complexity, but I agree with Rachel, I have encountered numerous groups of activists from all kinds of political issues that are more interested in policing their members than anything else. Now, choosing to portray the FA group this way isn’t a neutral choice, but I hardly think it’s a lie.

    Reading a lot of the criticism of this movie, I have to wonder what kind of movie people wanted this to be. Thinking both of the audience – most of whom probably know very little about FA and who wouldn’t agree with many of the positions – and the reality of trying to create dramatic narratives and a compelling story arc, I’m not sure an actual movie could be made that fit all of the critics requirements.

  9. 9 On July 25th, 2008, Rachel said:

    I want to also add that it’s not just because Darcy is thin that she is voted out of the group. The group members explain to Darcy that they are not a self-help or even a support group. They are a political group interested in changing a disordered culture and legal system that allows such a culture to flourish. They saw Darcy as someone who, because she is mentally ill, believes herself to be fat when she is anything but. Obviously Darcy needed a different kind of support group than one vested in political grassroots action.

    We may react differently online where we cannot see the people we interact with, but in person, I can see how such a group would initially react so incredulously to such a person. And in all reality, Darcy would have been better served attending an eating disordered support group than she would at a fat acceptance meeting, where she would only receive exactly the kind of validation she is seeking out as an excuse to continue her eating disordered behaviors.

  10. 10 On July 25th, 2008, Sherie S said:

    I have to say that in my 25 years of researching SA groups, I have never seen any group that would kick someone out because they are thin. They may be individuals who are prejudiced, but they get lots of flack if they do it publically. In fact, most members bend over backwards for any thin person who might want to join. I have noticed more open prejudice against midsized people. Not fat enough to be really “one of us,” but still fat enough to be a target for those who hate themselves. I have also met people who were ostracized for promoting weight loss, but that is perfectly reasonable. It defeats the purpose. (Yet, many SA groups I know encourage exercise for health and fun.) I realize that you pointed out thinness was not really the reason she was excluded, still I really wonder if the public will catch that.

    I believe it takes many many perspectives to stage a revolution. We need the hardliners to never relent the final prize. But we also need moderates who understand the mentality of the prejudiced. Sheeple can’t necessarily make leaps of consciousness, they need to do it step by step. So hopefully, this movie will be one step!

  11. 11 On July 27th, 2008, Firebird said:

    QUOTE
    “My only quibble with Gers here is that while he responsibly shows the mental toil of anorexia, Darcy appears almost too healthy in body”

    -When I started to read about this movie and saw some of the pictures, I was actually pleased that he showed Darcy as “healthy thin” as opposed to horribly emaciated. A lot of filmmakers would have the impulse to use more sensationalized images of anorexia, thus feeding into the stereotype that people have to be dangerously skinny in order to be validated as suffering from an ED (and to be able to get treatment for it). It’s already bad enough that anorexia is the only mental illness in the DSM to have a weight criteria attached to it. It’s refreshing that Gers would use an actress who has a normal, however thin, body instead of casting someone who looked unhealthy. I think it drives home the point that anorexia, and other EDS are about mental anguish, not just physical appearance, and by showing Darcy as “normal thin” (as opposed to “anorexically thin”) the focus is kept on her inner anguish. A lot of ED sufferers are not alarmingly thin, even though they might have done, and are doing, irreparaable damage to their bodies. Because they don’t “look the part”, they often fly under the radar of friends/family/etc. who might even compliment them on their “discipline” or “willpower”. But if they were emaciated, those same people would regard that same behavior with alarm and concern.
    I would be very turned off if Darcy had been portrayed as the emaciated stereotypical anorectic. Everyone who has struggled with an ED knows that the hardest times often come after the weight has been gained back and doubt, fear, and uncertainty start to settle back in. Being dangerously thin often confers a sense of feeling protected or contained and once the person gains weight back, they still have to deal with traumatic memories, sadness, or anxiety and not have their thinness to protect them or be able to get that thinness back quickly enough. In a way, despite having regained weight, Darcy is vulnerable and hollowed out, maybe even more so because her mental state isn’t as readily visible on her body and she’s forced to find words and explanations for what’s going on inside since her body no longer “speaks” for her in that way.

  12. 12 On July 27th, 2008, Liza said:

    I’m going to withhold my opinion until I’ve seen it.

    Aaaaaaand…Netflix.

  13. 13 On July 28th, 2008, Marilyn Wann said:

    I oppose weight-based exclusion or inclusion for fat pride community. Every single time I encounter people questioning the presence of someone based on their weight, or attempting to exclude anyone based on weight, I oppose it directly and publicly.

    My fat politics are based on how people think and believe, not on what we weigh.

    In my experience and in my opinion, people of all possible weights have totally great reasons to fight weight prejudice and discrimination and to seek to celebrate weight diversity.

    Some of my most cherished colleagues in this fight identify as thin. Some of the people I least welcome in fat pride community (due to their investment in weight-loss goals) are people who identify as fat. When I weighed whatever weight it is that means you’re always wondering whether mainstream clothing sizes will fit you (a so-called “mid-size” size?), that’s precisely when I became a fat rights activist.

  14. 14 On July 28th, 2008, Marilyn Wann said:

    Oh, I’ve seen the movie. I wish I hadn’t had to see it. For the same reasons, I don’t plan to see Wall-E, I encourage people not to bother to see this movie.

    I don’t see a negative portrayal of fat activists as a “baby step” in any direction that I want to go.

  15. 15 On July 28th, 2008, Rachel said:

    I would be very turned off if Darcy had been portrayed as the emaciated stereotypical anorectic.

    Firebird: I agree — eating disorders are deadly at any weight and very few people with an ED look emaciated. But what I meant by the “too healthy” comment more so isn’t that Darcy isn’t emaciated, but that she isn’t shown as being dizzy, confused, having heart palpitations, weak and unsteady, low blood sugar, and the numerous other health consequences that come from starvation. She’s shown as being very articulate, energetic and seemingly no health problems whatsoever save for mental health issues.

  16. 16 On July 28th, 2008, Rachel said:

    I oppose weight-based exclusion or inclusion for fat pride community.

    I agree, Marilyn, although I don’t think that this movie is as cut and dry as you’d like to make it appear. You have the right to criticize this film. Others have the right to like it for reasons of their own. We should respect both positions.

    I would encourage people to see the film for themselves so they can make their own informed opinion on the film and its messages.

  17. 17 On July 28th, 2008, Glenn Gers said:

    I wish indeed that I had shown more of Darcy’s health consequences, as Rachel describes, within the character’s “healthy/functional/recovering” ED. Sometimes stuff just slips out of your grasp when you’re making a movie.

    When I read Rachel’s post “This Is What Recovery Looks Like” I thought – that is a scene I should have had Darcy experience. Well, maybe in the “disFIGURED” mini-series…

    Regarding Marilyn’s comments: the movie begins with a scene of exclusion, shows many struggles between people with differences, and ends with a scene of inclusion. The scene of inclusion is led by a fat woman who is trying to find her voice and version of fat acceptance, and includes other members of the fat acceptance community.

    Not every character in the movie is as wonderful as our heroines Lydia and Darcy. It wouldn’t be a very interesting movie if everyone in it just sat around agreeing about admirable things. Even the heroines act cruelly and unfairly at times. I think that’s truthful, and I hope an audience can forgive or at least understand them, as a rehearsal for doing the same with real people in real life.

    I certainly don’t expect everyone to like my movie, but I would prefer if they disliked it after seeing it instead of before. I’m sure the people at Pixar feel the same, and I suspect (having seen their lovely new movie) that they did not intend to ridicule fat people, but to critique a corporate culture that makes more money by keeping its customers boneless and passive. But don’t take my word for it. Judge for yourself.

  18. 18 On July 28th, 2008, Glenn Gers said:

    Oh, also: thanks, Firebird – that is very much what I had in mind. Hope you like the movie. Let me know.

  19. 19 On July 28th, 2008, Marilyn Wann said:

    Glenn, you didn’t bother talking to anyone in fat activist community before you made a movie about us, and chose to present us as a position to be dismissed. I personally spend my life, full-time, working to end weight-based discrimination and exclusion and for celebration of weight diversity. I take your negative portrayal of fat activists like me very personally.

    The people at Pixar needed to examine their own, internalized stereotypes about fat people before they presented a critique of consumerism that rides so heavily and needlessly on the backs of fat people.

    Some things are not worth my money or my time as a proud fat person. Your movie. Wall-E. Those two top my list right now.

  20. 20 On July 28th, 2008, Marilyn Wann said:

    Wait, you did hear from at least one fat activist. You heard from me, when you e-mailed asking to use my book in a scene in your movie. So you went ahead, knowing that at least one real-world fat activist resented the fuck out of you using our life-or-death real-world issues for a plot twist.

    As one viewer of your movie at the NAAFA convention so aptly said, “This movie throws our movement under the bus for its own purposes.”

  21. 21 On July 28th, 2008, Rachel said:

    Marilyn: You have stated that you don’t respect my opinion on this film or even my right to hold one, but I expect you to respect that you are a guest here on my blog. Debating the movie and questioning the director is fine; profanity is not. I know you have strong feelings against this movie, but please frame your comments in a more appropriate tone.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think the characters depicted by Glenn are as fictional as you’d have us believe. They may not characterize you or your modus of activism, but I’ve personally and recently encountered more than a few so-called fat acceptance activists who have behaved similarly to the activists in the film. Sure, I wish Glenn had focused on the 95 percent of activists who not act in this manner, but denying that the other 5 percent exist is delusional, at best. I don’t know what kind of research Glenn did in regards to depicting fat acceptance activists, but he’s not off-base, either. Instead of criticizing the messenger, perhaps we ought instead examine the very real people like those in his film that do exist within the movement.

    I think that the journey in ending weight-based discrimination is not made in a giant leap, but rather with many small “baby steps.” This film doesn’t get everything right, but it does raise the issue of weight-based discrimination to the public consciousness in a way that does not minimize or patronize those who experience it so acutely and intimately in their own lives. Nor does it show the fat acceptance group in a completely unflattering light, either. Rather, it shows the group members’ humanity, which above all, is what I feel the fat acceptance movement is entirely about — fat people are humans and deserve to be treated as such.

    You have made your position on the film abundantly clear, Marilyn, but I hope that others will see the film and then make their own informed opinions on it. Insinuating that people who choose to do so are any less the activist for it is exactly the kind of negativity projected by the characters in the film you so heavily criticize.

  22. 22 On July 28th, 2008, Marilyn Wann said:

    I’m glad that fat-positive bloggers saved me time and money by alerting me to the negative stereotypes in Wall-E. If negative portrayals of fat activism (in a movie that presumes to share our goals) crosses a boundary for people, they now have that time-saving and money-saving and aggravation-sparing info.

  23. 23 On July 29th, 2008, Rachel said:

    I’m also glad that fat-positive bloggers, including myself because this is really what you are inferring, wrote about Wall-E. I would have had a problem, though, if any of these same bloggers who criticized Wall-E also criticized people who chose to see the film anyway. I never called for a boycott of Wall-E and in fact, I have withheld offering my opinion of the version that was released to the public until I have seen the film for myself and I encouraged people who did see the film to share their perceptions of it. I would never presume to suggest that fat-positive people who saw the film and even those who liked the film are any less the activist for it. And that’s what my issue with you is really about. I don’t care if you hated Glenn’s film; it’s a moot point for me. Unlike you, I respect your right to take away from the film what you will, even though I do feel as if you are willfully distorting the film’s message. What I have a big problem with is you making others who choose to see the film feel bad, and I dislike even more the insinuation that those of us who do see it and even more, those of us who like the film, are somehow traitors to the cause.

    This is exactly the kind of thing Carol is shown as doing in “disFIGURED.” Anyone who doesn’t adhere to her own personal brand of activism is marked as a “bad” fat rights activist. It’s go with the groupspeak or don’t go at all kind of mentality. From the discussion here, this kind of sentiment within the movement doesn’t sound as farfetched as one might think.

    NAAFA is a wonderful organization, but there is a reason many of us chose to instead form our own fat rights group. While we share the same end-goals, we don’t share the same beliefs on how to achieve these goals. If players on our own team don’t even respect our right to hold differing opinions or values, I don’t see how we can ever expect to form a cohesive movement for change.

  24. 24 On July 29th, 2008, Peggy Howell said:

    Rachel,

    Just to clarify a point here, Marilyn has stated on her Fat Studies group although not on this blog that she is no longer a member of the board of directors of NAAFA. The opinions expressed by Marilyn Wann are her opinions solely and not an expression of NAAFA’s position.

    The NAAFA board members were each sent a copy of disFIGURED to view prior to our making a decision regarding the airing of the film at our concurrent convention with ASDAH. The NAAFA board decision was to show the movie as a joint venture with ASDAH. The showing of the film at the Convention does not indicate or imply an endorsement of the film or its contents. The majority of the board felt that the showing of the film would stimulate discussion within and, hopefully, without the size acceptance community.

    That certainly does seem to be happening!

    Looking forward, Peggy

  25. 25 On July 29th, 2008, Peggy Howell said:

    Okay, now I’m back with personal opinion. I’ve seen both movies being discussed on this board.

    I too have dedicated my life, spending many hours daily, to eradicate discrimination against people of size. I’ve been serving on the BOD of NAAFA for five and a half years and consider myself a bona fide fat rights activist. I’m not really a radical “in your face” (unless we’re face to face and I’m heated up about it) activist but believe I’m helping bring change. But I haven’t always been this dedicated.

    I’ve been fat all my life but was probably 45 years old before I learned about the SA movement. And in the last 15 plus years of involvement, have just about seen it all. At my very first SA event the mid-size women were under attack by the super-size women. I’ve seen thin people approached and asked what they are doing at a fat people’s event. I’ve met “radical” activists who turned me off. And I have met some of the most wonderful, accepting, empowering, long suffering people I’ve ever known in my life. Our community has it all, as it should. And we each have to enter this community at some point and find our own path and our own truth.

    I see disFIGURED as a glimpse into a community that most people know nothing about, even millions of fat people who really need to know about us and join us in our fight against size discrimination. It is not a documentary, it is a work of fiction. Whether or not we are portrayed accurately, it is my hope that lives will be touched and changed.

    I love animation so for my birthday, my sister took me to see Wall-E, a movie about robots, knowing nothing about the “fat aspect” of the movie. Going without a pre-conceived idea about the movie, I never saw it as fat bashing. We all know that civilization is getting larger with each generation. The movie starts with it’s focus on a single robot and his efforts to clean up a totally trashed planet. When we finally get to the space station, all humans are very fat people being transported about on chaise lounges being taken care of by an army of robots. In the office of the captain of the space station you see the photos of all the generations of captains over the 700 years they have been living in this space station. They start out average size men and with each generation, they get a bit larger until they reach their present state. I don’t find this personally offensive. I actually saw it as a natural evolution of what a totally selfish, self absorbed human race might become if we don’t stop wasting our planet the way we are doing. I do not recall a negative word being said about fat or people’s size. Maybe I’m naive, but I didn’t see fat hatred there.

    All that being said, I’m part of the size acceptance community. It’s made up of all kinds of people, none of us perfect. Just as all of society, we have different approaches and different opinions. I would hope that we can find room to make this community big enough for all of us!

    Looking forward, Peggy

  26. 26 On July 30th, 2008, Firebird said:

    QUOTE
    Firebird: I agree — eating disorders are deadly at any weight and very few people with an ED look emaciated. But what I meant by the “too healthy” comment more so isn’t that Darcy isn’t emaciated, but that she isn’t shown as being dizzy, confused, having heart palpitations, weak and unsteady, low blood sugar, and the numerous other health consequences that come from starvation. She’s shown as being very articulate, energetic and seemingly no health problems whatsoever save for mental health issues.

    Sorry for coming in so late on the discussion but I just wanted to comment on this. I completely agree with you here. I guess I just focused too much on the appearance aspect. As I haven’t seen the movie, I just assumed that there were parts where the physical consequences were shown. I think all the things you described should have been shown. It would have been an eye opener for so many people and it would be nice for people with EDs to have a depiction of an eating disordered person that they can identify with since so many movies about people with EDs are often lacking in aspects that cannot be so easily sensationalized.
    But as far as the depiction of the physical symptoms goes, it does work in a way. Even though Darcy isn’t shown experiencing all those things, those “in the know” will be aware that she is. Of course it would be better to show those things since it seems that those “in the know” are a very small minority and not many of those in that minority have the power to change people’s assumptions about EDs. I know that as far as I’m concerned anyway, I can hide a lot of the physical things. I know how to prevent myself from fainting (sometimes) and to “keep up a good front” no matter how I’m feeling. That’s not to say it works all the time but it is possible. The last thing I would ever want to do is draw attention to myself or worry anyone. No one looking at me would ever suspect that I starve myself and that I have been doing so for many years without a break. The last time I fainted, I was asked if I was pregnant, not about food intake or anything health related.

    From my standpoint, I could read into Darcy’s condition no matter if she’d been shown experiencing the physical consequences or not but it would have been more compelling had they been shown or some mention had been made somewhere in the film that she might experience some very serious potentially life threatening effects years later even if she wasn’t experiencing them in the early stages of her recovery.

    And, Glenn, I look forward to seeing the film. It’s just a matter of trying to get my hands on a opy.

    -Firebird

  27. 27 On July 30th, 2008, Marilyn Wann said:

    I’m not a gatekeeper, Rachel. I’m not stopping you from speaking your opinions. I don’t decide who is or who is not a fat activist. I have an opinion of your opinion on this movie, and it’s not a high one. I formulate my opinion of your opinion based on what matters to me.

    You are willing to celebrate a movie that in my view does a disservice to fat activists and does that disservice for no good reason. You use phrases like “struggles with…morbid obesity.” Both of these choices drastically reduce my trust in you and your politics.

    As far as recommending that people spend money to see objectionable movies…that’s just not my style. I vote with my money and imagine that others can do so, too.

  28. 28 On July 30th, 2008, Glenn Gers said:

    How To See The Movie:

    It is available for rent at Netflix, Blockbuster online and Hollywood Video. (It’s also at other rental stores, but we haven’t yet gotten a list from the wholesalers.)

    Google Shopping lists some pretty good discounts to buy it from online retailers; if you can get a handful of people together to buy it, the cost wouldn’t be more than a rental for each – and way below going to a movie theater.

    I’m sorry that it isn’t easily rentable Everywhere – but without a movie star on the box, it’s hard to get some stores to take it. (One potential distributor seriously said to me: “We’ll need to put a sexier woman on the DVD cover – you know, someone half-way between the skinny one and the fat one.” Needless to say, I didn’t go with that distributor!)

    Wall-E is, I believe, at several theaters around the country.

  29. 29 On July 31st, 2008, Marilyn Wann said:

    Or there’s the super fabulous movie, Secret Society…
    http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Secret_Society/60025368?lnkctr=srchrd-sr&strkid=515776190_0_0

  30. 30 On July 31st, 2008, Rachel said:

    I’ve already explained on the Fat Studies list why I choose to use the word “morbid obesity” here, Marilyn. And I also say “struggles with” because while you seem to be confident and proud in yourself and your body, the character in question is not and she does struggle with her weight and her feelings about her weight. But you’re right: Perhaps I am guilty of elevating you too high on that fat activist pedestal. You are, as you say, but one person in a movement that I hope can accommodate many voices and perspectives. Best of luck to you.

    And thanks for the Secret Society link. I had never heard of that film but I’ve already added it to my Netflix queue.

  31. 31 On July 31st, 2008, j said:

    I just happened to stumble upon this site (I actually have no idea how, actually)…a few friends e-mailed me links because body image, whether it is positive or negative, has always been a subject I am drawn to. I am a recovering bulimic, and after struggling for 4 years, anorexia has somehow crept its way into my life. Let me just say that even if a person appears at a “healthy” weight, internally, they are beaten up, bloody, and bruised if eating disordered. As a bulimic, I have fooled loved ones and doctors for years because of my relatively healthy weight. Nobody can see the rips in your throat or the irregularity of your heart beat if you don’t speak up. And of course I didn’t.
    This movie sounds wonderful, especially because it shows a RECOVERING anorexic, who is still unstable and lean, but not on the verge of collapse. This is the reality most of us face, and although now I appear underweight, I wish I had gotten the help I needed years ago, instead of having to look “sick” to get it.

  32. 32 On August 1st, 2008, Marilyn Wann said:

    That’s fine, Rachel. As long as you’re aware that someone like me, who is classified as “morbidly obese,” is prevented from being allowed to purchase health insurance because of that label. Which you use.

  33. 33 On August 1st, 2008, Rachel said:

    I don’t live beneath a rock, Marilyn. Of course, I am aware of the associations people make with clinical terms like morbid obesity. But like the word “fat,” the word is just a word and I use it here merely as the descriptor it is.

  34. 34 On August 6th, 2008, Marilyn Wann said:

    The word “obesity” legitimizes very real acts of discrimination in the medical setting.

    The government labels me “morbidly obese.” I identify as fat. There’s a power dynamic in naming.

  35. 35 On August 6th, 2008, Rachel said:

    All of which is why you should constructively redirect your anger and activism to those individuals/groups who actively and deliberately discriminate on the basis of how they interpret and define “obesity,” and not bloggers who use the term innocuously to simply communicate a particular body shape.

    You’ve made your opinions abundantly clear, Marilyn, as have I, and it’s clear that while we belong to the same league, we play on different teams. There is really no need to continue beating a dead horse here.

  36. 36 On August 27th, 2008, Liza said:

    I just saw it and am about to write a review, which I’ll either come post here or post elsewhere and link to here. :)

  37. 37 On April 11th, 2009, kitti b said:

    I saw this movie and immediately fell deeply in love with the characters. I couldn’t help feeling my heart go out to Darcy when I saw the pleading hopeful look on her face as she asked to participate in the “fat acceptance group” and hurting for her as she was rejected. I loved this movie as an overweight woman I was pleasantly surprised by the “love scene” every love scene i have ever seen in a movie always contained two “perfect bodied”. but This one was the most beautiful to me beacause i watched it a was not ashamed of my body and felt liberated by the actress playing lydia bearing her body for the camera. when I do loose the weight (and i will) i want it to be because I want to be healthier and stronger for my young daughter and my husband not beacause I want to be some airbrushed fantasy in a magazine. Great movie please see it with an open mind.

  38. 38 On May 29th, 2009, Win it: “disFIGURED” » The-F-Word.org said:

    [...] the new still-shrinkwrapped copy to one lucky reader here.  You can read my review of disFIGURED here and an interview with Gers here.  Men-in-Full also has a great review [...]

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