A Strong Voice Gains Traction, Continued

Yesterday, we looked at the real-life origin story of the TV series “Shrill,” and some of the highlight episodes, and what professional critics had to say about them. The show’s audience, the viewers, also had plenty of thoughts. A fan review in Variety speaks of living in “a world where weight often feels like an acceptable form of discrimination.”

The uncredited author of course references the work on which the series was based, the 2016 non-fiction book, “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman,” and appreciates how the makers of the series did not shy away from “the other F-word,” namely, fat. There seems to be a trend, among a certain demographic, of rejecting such descriptors as curvy, plump, full-figured, plus-size, zaftig, or any other euphemisms. Whether this is healthy or counterproductive has been the subject of much discussion.

The author also noted that the show portrayed how generous normal-weight people tend to be with their opinions — that fat is a person’s own fault, and is attributable to negative character traits such as laziness, a desire to commit slow-motion suicide, and so on. The review says,

It was also encouraging that they cast Bryant, a charismatic, talented performer, rather than putting an actress in a fat suit or asking one to gain weight — always disconcerting as the talking point becomes about how amazing the physical transformation is and how they inevitably shed the weight after filming. (See? Anyone can do it!)

In the same week, Lucero Cantu, who self-identifies as a fat woman, published a piece via Medium, titled “I Don’t Want To Be Happily Fat.” She also mentions the vocabulary issue, stating “It isn’t a bad word. I will not be offended if you make the accurate observation that I am fat.” She also meditates on the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” aspect of attitudes.

Apparently, in the minds of many, people who are obese are expected to experience enough decent shame to keep themselves hidden away as much as possible. For a fat woman to post a photo of herself invites derogatory remarks accusing her of promoting or even glorifying obesity. But if they do try to remain invisible, they are shamed for being ashamed. To even suggest that it is, and should be, acceptable to treat fat people like legitimate members of the human race, can invite further charges of encouraging obesity. Cantu writes,

Shrill dug deep. It dug deep into the memories, thoughts, and emotions that I bury in the intricately locked safes residing in my soul and ripped me open.

In addition to this exhausting emotional drain, Cantu describes her surprise at realizing how universal some of these experiences are in the lives of people who struggle against weight. She wraps up by reminding her regular readers and alerting new ones that despite the fact that there is nothing wrong with being fat, she herself has lost 90 pounds, and plans to continue losing. But…

I refuse to be one of those people that make fun of who they used to be just because they’ve changed. Being fat doesn’t make me happy, I don’t want to be fat anymore. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m happy. I’m fat. I don’t want to be happily fat.

Last word

Different TV series, different writer, and this one isn’t for kids. A fat-girl rant voiced by a woman (Sarah Baker) was written by Louis CK, a man who has obviously listened very carefully to someone. It garnered wide attention and was even called a “landmark episode.”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “A Fat Girl’s Take on ‘Shrill’,” Variety.com, 03/15/19
Source: “I Don’t Want To Be Happily Fat,” Medium.com, 03/21/19
Source: “Fat Girl scene from “Louie” strikes a chord,” YouTube.com, 05/14/14
Image by Mike Mozart/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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