Obesity has been a growing problem in the United States for the last few decades and it was just officially recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association. All of Me‘s appearance at Los Angeles Film Festival could not have been better timed. Following a group of Super Sized Big Beautiful Women (according to their Yahoo! group) in Austin, All of Me tracks these friends as they journey from big to small. Many of the women have gotten or will soon get weight loss surgery by the time the movie starts and the film looks at not just the physical changes but the emotional and personality changes that come along with such a drastic change.
The film takes a very personal approach to these women. They’re not there to be mocked or derided for their size – we learn about some of the reasons that caused them to gain the weight and why they’re so apprehensive to start losing it. These aren’t just big women, these are women have built their lives around the fact that they’re large by either being BBW webcam girls (Zsalynn) or a 1970s fetish calendar girl (Dawn) or just were proud that they didn’t feel the need to buy in to societal beauty norms (Judy). The girls came together over a shared interest in being larger and having personalities larger than life, but once they start shrinking All of Me explores whether fat is a tie that binds.
The documentary doesn’t pull any punches – showing the full spectrum of hardships and victories that come after the surgery. It’s a eye opening peek into a growing subculture. It doesn’t have a pat ending, serving more as a slice of life, but it does show some growth for at least one character. She manages to not only lose weight but undergoes a complete life change while holding on to her personality and core values. While this ignites jealousy in the girls who aren’t as successful, it does provide hope to the audience that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for people in the same situation. But it doesn’t sugarcoat – this happy ending is not the average, it’s the exception. The other girls’ stories show the varied results of being a BBW and trying to get healthy.
All of Me will air on PBS this August.