We take a look at Jeanie Finlay's acclaimed new documentary...
When it comes to getting to the heart of a difficult subject matter, director Jeanie Finlay has never been one to shy away from selecting something a bit different. Her latest documentary, Your Fat Friend, follows the journey of anonymous blogger to best-selling author to award-winning podcast host, Aubrey Gordon. The film centres around fatness, weight and our relationship with our bodies.
Aubrey first began posting about her experiences in 2016, under the pseudonym Your Fat Friend. She grew tired of the other words for fat that she found were being used online. The film delves into her experiences as she creates a career for herself in writing while challenging us to rethink how we feel about fatness.
“When I describe myself as fat,” she says, “I think they think I’m saying I’m lazy, stupid or unlovable. I’m just fat.”
Finlay has a talent for finding and sensitively drawing out unusual stories while creating an intimacy which makes you feel like somehow you are in the room with her subjects. Seahorses, her previous documentary, which follows a transgender man, Freddie McConnel through his journey with parenthood, is not just riveting but beautiful. I was pleased to note that the formula is much the same with Your Fat Friend. It feels as if you are conversing with someone you’ve known for a long time just catching up on what’s happened in their lives.
It doesn’t just address the issues that we have with our own bodies but how we police other bodies even subconsciously
That is not to say it's not uncomfortable at times. The subject of fatness, weight and bodies is a difficult one for lots of us and this film does not spare the awkward moments. We watch as Aubrey’s dad buys her a birthday cake only to make a big deal about it being sugar-free beyond a quick mention. Similarly, the films highlight how much of the world we experience is designed for thinner people such as airline seats. It doesn’t just address the issues that we have with our own bodies but how we police other bodies even subconsciously.
Aubrey shares experiences of doxing, staring and hateful messages. We are faced with the awkward truth of how casual a conversation we have made about weight, dieting and our bodies. Aubrey even shares her collection of vintage cookbooks which showcase the industry we’ve built from such conservations. The emphasis on Aubrey’s writing, work and the film itself is that we need to strip back the negative connotations from the word fat to move forward and embrace something different – more joyful.
She questions the relationship that her family also has with food while focusing on how she has almost bonded with her mother over dieting. All in all, Aubrey’s honest nature throughout this film combined with Finlay’s talent for thought-provoking presentation and questioning makes this documentary highly enjoyable.
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