BY SARAH PANNELL, LMFT
Fattitude is coming to Atlanta on February 22nd, hosted by the Eating Disorder Information Network (EDIN). Not only is this amazing film coming to Atlanta, but Lindsey Averill, co-creator and co-director of the film, will be attending the screening!
Fattitude is a documentary that is seeking to “change the national conversation about body image so that it focuses not only on issues of self-acceptance, but also on legitimate questions of systemic cultural prejudice.” I had the opportunity to see the film at its premiere in New York City, and was blown away by the film and knew we needed to bring it to Atlanta, and I cannot wait to see it again!
In anticipation for this exciting event, Lindsey, agreed to do an interview with me about the film. It really was such an honor- she is truly an amazing human being and all she and Viri Leiberman (Lindsey’s co-creator and co-director) have invested into and had to endure to make this film a reality is nothing shy of incredible.
I began by asking Lindsey to describe the film to me in one sentence. “Fattitude is a body positive documentary that takes a really hard look at the media and asks us to re-evaluate how we define the body image conversation, shifting it away from the individual and looking to question the way the culture perceives fat bodies.”
Before we got into why Lindsey and Viri decided to make the film, I wanted to make sure I clarified what she means by “Body Positivity,” which we discussed means different things to different people. Lindsey explained that when she uses the term, “I’m saying instead of bodily hatred, we come from a place of bodily love” which means “I’m going to feed [my body with] healthy nutrients and move it in ways my body enjoys and that are healthy [and] show it care.” Body Positivity also means seeking to “shift the culture so we treat bodies in a positive light instead of constantly treating bodies in a negative light.”
Lindsey shared that both she and Viri, who have backgrounds in social justice and activism, decided to create this film because of their experiences of having “lived in larger and smaller bodies throughout our lives…we both recognized patterns of disordered eating in our lives. We’ve lived this cycle of fat-shaming and fat discomfort. That’s one of the reasons the film resonated and we wanted to do it.” Lindsey also shared that another major motivation was to make the fat acceptance movement more accessible. Lindsey explained, “One of the great things the film as a medium is that you can get a lot of information very quickly.”
Lindsey and I spoke about the joys and challenges of making a film like Fattitude. Lindsey described her experience being harassed by trolls, which included endless phone calls to herself, her husband, his business, her family members, all types of packages being delivered to her home and even death threats. Yes, death threats, for making a film about body positivity and fat acceptance. Lindsey shared that for the “first few days, we both crawled into beds and cried and wondered if we can handle this. Then, I woke up one morning and said, ‘Yes, we can handle this. I’m calling the media.’” I was fairly awed by this response but Lindsey described it this way, “The choice to go to the media was really just an activist choice. ‘If you’re going to torture me, I’m going to tell the world that you’re torturing me. I’m going to tell the world that the prejudice that I’m fighting against is real enough that you want to kill me for speaking against it.’” Now if that isn’t resiliency, I’m not sure what is, and it speaks to the incredible passion that is embedded in this film.
Next, I asked Lindsey about the audience for this film, and I loved her answer, this “film is for everyone. Everyone is struggling under the shame, or contributing the shame that we associate with fat.” She went on to explain, “Fat is not about fat people. Weight bias, like women’s rights or civil rights are not just about the people their happening to it’s about anyone who wants to help be an ally.” So basically, if you are a human, you have a body- this film is for you!
Fattitude is for everyone and there are audiences who may be particularly moved by the film. Lindsey discussed how “people living in fat bodies see the film and wind up crying because they’re SEEN for the first time.” Lindsey also noted that this film has found a lot of support within the eating disorder education community, which includes organizations like EDIN. Lindsey notes that while “we did not set-out to create a movie that would be helpful for the ED education community…we did make a movie that will be really helpful…because “weight bias is one of the contributing factors [to the development of an eating disorder].” Personally, I loved hearing that the eating disorder education community has been “one of the strongest allies” for the film and am so thrilled that EDIN is among those supporting and bringing this film to Atlanta!
Lindsey and I also discussed how this film is about all bodies and it centers upon the voices of those living in fat bodies. And yes, I just used the word “fat” because that’s a huge part of this film. Lindsey points out that most of us “don’t use the word “fat” because we’re terrified of it, and it needs to stop being that way. Fat bodies are not invisible…they’re just bodies like everyone else.” Lindsey hopes the film challenges the audience to see the need to “[accept] fatness- that it exists and will always exist…‘eradicating fatness’ is a problem- that’s internalized weight bias, it’s totally invisible as a problem.”
Lindsey also taught me a little about the use of the term fat acceptance vs weight bias. Lindsey explained that, “Weight bias is something in the culture,” “it’s more clinical.” “Fat acceptance is saying include the fat people…that fat person standing next to you, you need to accept them.” Fat acceptance “forces you to really see the problem. We’re excluding fat people.”
And in conclusion, I asked Lindsey about how this film has impacted her personally. Lindsey shared that, “during the filming of Fattitude, I threw the scale out.” She shared how she began to focus on intuitive eating, “eating when I’m hungry and listening for those cues.” Lindsey shared that the film also helped her to show more kindness and compassion to herself in the journey to body love, instead of being “militant about idea that I had to achieve body love…I relaxed within myself, and just relaxing got me closer to body love.”
I hope this interview with Lindsey has enticed your curiosity and gotten you excited to see this film. It really is a truly incredible film. Grab your friends, your family or your colleagues and come out and see the film. And if you get a group of 10 people together, there is a $100 discount.
Tickets are currently on sale on Eventbrite.