When we talk about body image, much of the conversation is centered on self-acceptance. But what happens when you finally work to achieve that acceptance, only to find that the world around you still sees you as the butt of the joke?
It’s the cultural attitude toward fat people that self-proclaimed “fat feminist activist” Lindsey Averill and filmmaker Viridiana Lieberman hope to change with their documentary Fattitude. The feature-length film takes a look at how popular culture fosters fat prejudice, and offers viewers an alternative way of thinking, encouraging body positivity.
“The media and other cultural sources say that people need to lose weight – that obesity is a deadly epidemic, but there is scientific research that shows that weight loss and health are not linked like we think they are. We feel that most people are ill informed when it comes to fatness. We want to offer a counter argument to the current popular notions that condemn fatness in all forms, an argument that overturns notions of fat hatred in favor of body acceptance,” Lindsey explains on the film’s Kickstarter campaign page.
“If you’re like me and you’re living in a fat body, no one should be mean to you.Scheduled to be released in 2015, the documentary features interviews with prominent fat activists, authors, scientists and psychologists, each addressing some of the more common perceptions people have about fat people: “fat people are lazy”, “every fat person is unhealthy”, and that “fat people aren’t attractive.”
Unfortunately, it’s Lindsey’s recent experience with fat harassment that reaffirms the need for this type of film. Although she expected to receive her share of criticism about her weight and the film from internet trolls, she was taken aback at the ugliness that unfolded when she started receiving calls at her home with death and rape threats. Lindsey shared the details of the harassment in a post on XOJane, but here’s a sample of some of the things she and her family have been dealing with:
“They ordered pizzas and had them delivered to my house. What they were really doing was telling me that they knew where we lived. We turned on our alarm and changed our phone number. They signed us up for a visit from Mormon missionaries and a mission to Israel; they sent us cardboard boxes from the Post Office and signed me up for all kinds diet newsletters. Basically, any of things that you can mail for free from the Internet, which is a lot.”
Lindsey shared in an interview with ABC News, “I really do feel like we do live in a culture that’s brutally cruel to fat people of all ages – children and adults alike. If you’re like me and you’re living in a fat body, no one should be mean to you.”
So, is the world ready for this new kind of acceptance? Sadly, it looks like we still have a very long way to go.
About The Filmmakers
Lindsey Averill is a fat feminist activist, filmmaker and the author of Feminist Cupcake, a blog that looks at how representations in popular culture perpetuate negative stereotypes about race, gender, sexuality and body type. Lindsey also founded Extraordinary Being, an organization that facilitates life affirming, feminist and body-positive workshops and provides one-on-one feminist and body-positive coaching to clients nationwide.
Viridiana Lieberman is a filmmaker who works as a director, editor, cinematographer and writer in New York City. Viridiana is also a feminist activist and the author of Sports Heroines on Film: A Critical Study of Cinematic Women Athletes, Coaches and Owners being published by McFarland & Company, Inc, which discusses the representations of female athletes, coaches and owners in sports films from the 1940’s to today.