Fattitude is a film from creators Lindsey Averill and Viridiana Lieberman that examines how popular culture promotes fat hatred and fat-shaming, resulting in a very real cultural bias and a civil rights issue for people who are living in fat bodies.
The film came together organically, with both filmmakers coming from academic backgrounds and interviewing people recognized as leaders in the field of fat activism. The film features a balance between the sociology of weight bias in media over the years and the health risks that come from obsession with body weight and image, and “offers an alternative way of thinking — embracing body acceptance at all sizes,” explains Averill.
Lindsey Averill spoke with me about her development of Fattitude. Lindsey mentioned that she and co-creator Viridiana have been friends for a long time — Viri went to film school with her, and then they wound up in feminist graduate classes together, often talking about making a film. “Fattitude grew out of my academic work — I was studying representations of fat teens and I couldn’t get over how stigmatizing the images I was dealing with were. I felt like the world needed Fattitude so — I called Viri, we discussed it and the rest is history.”
Lindsey added, “Just to be clear, I don’t think you can live in the world in a fat body and not be affected by fat-shaming. You are mistreated constantly, every time you turn on the television, pass ads on billboards, or get asked about diets by the office water cooler. The non-nonchalant, run-of-the-mill everyday fat-shaming is brutal. It chips away at a person’s soul until it’s hard to leave the house. Accepting that the way you’re being treated is wrong and fighting back makes breathing a whole lot easier.”
In previous screenings and discussions, Lindsey mentioned that the film raises many questions, yet also empowers viewers. Many discussions are concerned with how to approach bodies in healthy, non-shaming ways, and for the first time both fat and thin people in the discussions realize that they are allowed to be happy in their bodies. However, she added that “others get stuck in their fat bias and cannot understand that we need to end the shame and prejudice associated with living in a fat body if we are going to have happy and healthy citizens.”
Liz Fayram is a registered dietitian/nutrition therapist specializing in the treatment of eating disorders through a weight-inclusive and HAES (Health At Every Size) nutrition counseling background. She had the opportunity to see Fattitude in NY during a conference and felt strongly that RI needed to have more conversations about weight stigma and size acceptance. As a faithful colleague of SHAPE Center RI, she and Krista Handfield met to move forward with bringing the film event to Providence along with Walden Behavioral Care.
SHAPE Center RI is a Rhode Island resource of weight-neutral practitioners that create a size-affirming space. Handfield works to include the topic of weight discrimination in healthcare environments and advocates “for language and concepts in the public health forum that use actual measures for health instead weight as a weak surrogate.”
Fattitude will screen on Tuesday, May 8th at 8pm at Cable Car Cinema & Café, which is sadly closing its doors on May 27. Directors and organizers will be there for this special screening. More info on Fattitude is available at fattitudethemovie.com and tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite and at the door. Benefits from the proceeds go to Girls Rock! RI.