“Your Fat Friend”


Metacritic (7/10), Letterboxd (3.5/5), Imcb.com (7/10), TMDB.com (7/10)

They say you can never truly understand what it’s like to feel what someone else experiences until you’ve walked a mile in his or her shoes. That’s often been said about many of those in minority communities, and, thankfully, some progress in understanding appears to have been made in those cases over the years. But one segment of society in which little advancement has been made involves those who are appreciably bigger than many in the mainstream (i.e., those who are fat). For some reason, fat folks continue to be systematically marginalized – if not outright derided – in countless ways, and there’s often been little that they can do about these pervasive attacks. Now, however, writer-director Jeanie Finlay’s new documentary profile of author/podcaster/fat activist Aubrey Gordon sheds new light on what individuals affected by this condition face on a daily basis. This includes the persistent lack of meaningful accommodations in areas like effective health care, transportation and garment manufacturing, not to mention the ignorant, cruel, short-sighted and insensitive comments made by others, including those who mistakenly think they’re operating from a standpoint of good intentions. The film explores Gordon’s journey from an anonymous (and devastatingly ridiculed) blogger to best-selling author who came out of the closet about her weight circumstances and made public the often-overlooked anguish experienced by people of size. The film holds back little in terms of exposing the unbridled scorn thrust upon her and those who are similarly situated, while simultaneously celebrating the overflowing shower of support bestowed on her by others like her who now feel that there’s someone in their camp to make their feelings and the truth of their circumstances known. The picture also goes on the record exposing the many myths and lies that have been long perpetuated about fat people and the volumes of bad, uninformed advice they have received for decades, particularly from the medical community, many of whose members don’t have a clue when it comes to what they’re talking about. Admittedly, the material covered in the film could be a little better organized at times, especially when it turns redundant, as it does on several occasions. There is also a fair amount of unrelated incidental footage that probably could have been cut without losing much. However, this offering provides a wealth of information on the widely circulated misinformation about fatness, and, as anyone who has endured these conditions – like me, in the interest of full disclosure – can attest, it’s refreshing and liberating to see an advocate step forward who is not afraid to call out those who are hurtful, ignorant and deceitful when it comes to this subject. “Your Fat Friend” draws all of these issues into focus and delivers a polite but undeniably pointed middle finger to those who perpetuate misguided attitudes and ideas that ultimately serve no one – yet end up unintentionally or deliberately hurting so many.