(Written by Allison Brown)
Blogger and author Aubrey Gordon shares that fat people spend our entire lives changing to fit the world around us. People are scared to use the word “fat,” and come up with a million euphuisms to make it an easier topic of discussion. With the rise of fat activism, overweight individuals are fed up with this struggle, and the stigmas from others surrounding our size and health. In Your Fat Friend, we are provided a peak into Gordon’s life with valuable information for thinner parties on all the ways plus size people quietly suffer. This ranges from difficulty in taking up too much space (both physically and mentally), to fear of food, to lack of proper medical care due to bias, to medications not being properly formulated for or tested on bigger people.
I specifically learned this year from this, as well as an earlier festival film, that Plan B is less effective for women over 155 pounds. For my height, 155 pounds is well within the healthy weight spectrum. How bizarre is it that this information has not been properly communicated my entire life? Ella, another emergency contraception pill, only works up to 195 pounds. Well for me, 195 pounds is still a size 14. This inequity is absurd, given the fact that 68% of American women wear above a size 14 dress; most of the women in our country fall in a category where they are not properly taken care of by society.
Writer/Director Jeanie Finlay touches upon Gordon’s upbringing, parental relationships, eating disorder, vintage diet book collection (including one wildly titled, “Help Lord…the Devil Wants Me Fat”), journey and success in starting a podcast, and fear surrounding a reveal of her anonymous identity as she publishes a book. As a woman who has similarly struggled with obesity, eating disorders, attended fat camp, and taken on dieting as early as my preteen years, Gordon’s experience is exceptionally relatable. I have thankfully had a better experience with managing my eating disorder and more compassionate doctors than Gordon, but the struggle to be taken seriously when not technically underweight is something vital to highlight.
Once one has made the conscious decision to try to let the disordered behavior go, it is still impossible to escape equally disordered thoughts and conversation from friends and family. The secret recording of Thanksgiving dinner discussion from Aubrey’s family depicting how they will regret their food choices in the morning is something omnipresent in American culture.
The documentary does lose steam around the midpoint, as the focus moves from universally relatable themes to Gordon’s personal story. It perhaps feels a bit too long, and the second part needed some edits. Some of the shots could better filmed; one scene oddly left in shows the camera struggling to zoom properly. Given the interview content was a breakthrough in this particular spot, the sound overlaid on a different visual to prevent it from feeling amateur would do wonders. Nevertheless, I was left feeling supported and uplifted from my time with Aubrey Gordon. There is a lot to be improved with body image issues and acceptance in society, but I am glad fat activism is moving to the forefront of conversation.
Your Fat Friend is ready to unload the truth and call out poor behavior when it premieres at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday, June 8th.