Pop Culture and Obesity: "Fat Girls"

Fat Girls

In 2006, a feature film called Fat Girls was released. The story takes place in Texas, one of the worst states in America for a gay teen, especially a boy who aspires to the Broadway stage. Rodney, the main character, is played by a 20-year-old Ash Christian, who also wrote and directed, which is an admirable accomplishment for someone so young. Christian is a devotee of director John Waters, so that may tell you something.

One of Rodney’s best friends is a genuine fat girl, Sabrina, and the other is Rudy, a minority group member and an adoptee. According to Rodney, being a fat girl is a state of mind. He uses “fat girl” as a generic term for any variety of adolescent misfit. That is a really interesting concept.

Stephen Holden of The New York Times was turned off by the overdone farcical elements, and disappointed by the filmmaker’s failure to take advantage of what could have been a knockout of a scene, when Rodney goes to the prom with the new boy in town, a lad from England:

In the anticlimactic dance scene, which cries out to be a confrontational set piece, nothing much happens.

Stephen Holden has been writing about film, theater, and music for a long time, and is a New York Times staff member and a poet. Despite his lukewarm regard for the film, it has won several awards. Holden’s review doesn’t say much about Sabrina, so we consulted Nick Schager of Slant Magazine, who describes Sabrina as:

[…] a heavily mascara-ed wiseass who wears her unpopular status like a badge…

Schager’s review mentions stereotyping, conceptual uncertainty, and other flaws in this tale of alienation, but does concede that there are some immediate and authentic scenes, along with an unfeigned fondness for outsiders.

Now, what does a female writer have to say? Melanie Dee, reviewer for Associated Content, laments the crude, juvenile humor, and the lack of a plot, which is a fair criticism. Plots are generally considered pretty much essential in movies. Damning Fat Girls with faint praise, she says it could have been far worse.

But however much Sabrina’s friends might identify with her condition, metaphorically, she is the real deal, the 300 pounds of the quintessential obese youth. And what about Ashley Fink, who plays the character of Sabrina in this production? The actress herself also comes from Texas. She has had parts in a couple of other movies, and has appeared in many episodes of TV series such as Wake Up, ER, Huge, Gilmore Girls, and Glee, to name just a few. Her official Internet Movie Database bio says,

Ashley Fink is quickly rising as one of the most sought after comedic actresses in Hollywood, and is a perfect example of hard work, staying true to yourself and most importantly loving what you do in life.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Broad Comedy,” The New York Times, 11/02/10
Source: “Fat Girls,” Slant Magazine, 10/30/07
Source: “Movie Review: Fat Girls (2006),” Associated Content, 08/20/08
Image from Fat Girls, used under Fair Use: Reporting.

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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