A Strong Voice Gains Traction

Unapologetically obese people have some strong voices, and their point of view is often sought by publications for reviews of entertainment based on obese characters. Published by Lindy West in 2016, the non-fiction book Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman, became adapted into a popular TV series that lasted three seasons.

The main character of “Shrill” is Annie (Aidy Bryant), whose mother has never yet given up on nudging her to diet and exercise. Annie is a minor staff member at a local indie publication, whose relationship with her male boss Gabe is pretty antagonistic. Outside of work, Annie has become inured to casual putdowns from the general public, which she tolerates…

… because of what I look like, because there’s a certain way that your body is supposed to be and I’m not that…

But this woman does not really want to hate herself, and so expands her universe with adventures like a “Fat Babe Pool Party” which turns out to be “maybe the best day of my life.” At work, the boss utters one anti-obesity comment too many, so Annie writes an angry rant and posts it, without permission, on the paper’s website. Consequently, her job gets better, then worse, and she quits. Her new hobby is taking revenge on an online troll who has been dissing her.

The second time around

In Season 2, a humbled Annie asks for her old job back and also breaks up with her longtime but problematic boyfriend. According to enthusiastic fans, “Shrill” could have gone on forever, but the decision was made to wrap it up with a truncated third season, in which Annie continues to practice self-destructiveness in romantic relationships, but the focus seems to be on her work life and her female roommate. Reviewer Allison Keene wrote,

Like Annie herself, the show is pivoting away from focusing on her weight; she no longer wants to be known for just writing articles about being fat… Annie’s issues are still ultimately about how she sees herself. She might not want others to define her because of her weight, but she still defines herself that way.

Childhood Obesity News has examined a wide spectrum of ways in which culture and media affect obese people and the ways in which others characterize and react to them. The most useful aspect of such entertainment is to remind parents that it would really be preferable if their children do not become obese when young, because that is almost a guarantee of continuing lifelong battle against weight. Like it or not, the odds of overcoming childhood obesity are not encouraging.

Whether we look at non-fiction memoirs or fictional treatments of this particular problem; whether the works themselves are loved or hated; the response of society to overweight and obese individuals is a major factor in their quality of life. The upcoming post will continue to examine “Shrill.”

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Shrill Season 1 Recap,” WatercoolerHQ.co, undated
Source: “Shrill Ambles Amiably Through Its Final Season, but Ends on a Question Mark” PasteMagazine.com, 05/06/21
Image by Mark Dixon/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

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.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


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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