This documentary, “Your Fat Friend,” explores how obese individuals are portrayed on TV

Why are overweight characters so frequently the target of sympathy or the joke’s butt? The dearth of nuanced representations of plus-size individuals on screen is a topic of discussion in a recent documentary. The towering headmistress Sister Michael of Derry Girls, played by actress Siobhan McSweeney, is well-known for being both a large-statured persona and an imposing one. The actress featured in an entirely different role in the ITV drama Holding two years ago. However, the media was focused on just one thing. “All they wanted to ask me about was the love scene and how brave I was doing it because of my body shape,” she explains.


McSweeney is currently contributing her voice to a new documentary that aims to present obese individuals in the media and in society at large in a more equitable and balanced light. Filmed over the course of six years, Your Fat Friend follows podcaster and author Aubrey Gordon starting with her first frank online post, made under the alias that also serves as the title of the documentary. She recounted her “fat experience,” which included being turned away from flights, having doctor’s visits turned down, and having incessant talks and attempts at dieting. Gordon wore a size 26, which is comparable to a 30 in the UK.

In the documentary, the events behind her post’s viral success are examined. Watchers witness her change and hear her openly discuss a problem that impacts millions of people worldwide. Gordon gained a large following during her public life journey, going on to become a New York Times best-selling book and the host of the Maintenance Phase podcast. She examines how society views obese individuals and the fat on our bodies with unwavering honesty. There’s a long line of people circling the pavement outside the Glasgow Film Theatre, eager to get into a preview screening of Your Fat Friend that the BBC attended despite the extreme cold and rain. Their teeth rattle with excitement and cold.

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