Aidy Bryant shines in Hulu’s original, Shrill. This masterpiece brings relevant matters into focus opening with an unfamiliar scene of an overweight woman having and, more importantly, enjoying sex. Aidy Bryant may not fit into the standard body type of sexuality typically showcased on film today, but she doesn’t give a shit. And she shouldn’t because people of all body types have sex. Every woman can be sexy, and body size has nothing to do with it. And get this, people that aren’t skinny can send nudes too. Because they are people. This show shoves social norm off the stage while bringing something real front and center. It’s important to show women on screen that don’t fit into society’s tiny box of socially accepted thinness so we can shatter the glass that covers this space. With the supplement of filters, editing, and extensive digital alterations, we as woman are critiqued even more arduous than the standard amount. As judgment has grown, we’ve begun to mirror this behavior onto ourselves, joining a relentless plague of accepted harassment. But it’s time for those socially accepted body types to start sharing the stage with bodies that aren’t as celebrated as theirs. It’s all of our responsibility to make beautiful real again. It’s up to us to be inclusive and accepting of all body types.
And that means contraceptives too. Did you know that Plan-B is ineffective for women that weigh over 175 pounds? People have sex, weight is irrelevant, even if it’s not what we typically see in the generic sex scenes of film today. We usually see perfected and enhanced bodies, leading an ignorant many to believe sex has a weight limit when it doesn’t. Weight is irrelevant to sexual experiences because every body is doing it.
This series escalates into continued progression as we see a result of empowerment felt after a woman makes a choice about her body and decides to have an abortion. Yes, an abortion can have a positive effect on a woman. A woman having power over her own body shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be the bare minimum standard. It’s one thing to have control and entirely other to use it. For a woman to end a pregnancy, she has to make a choice for and about herself. Honestly making that choice, either outcome, can ignite personal power over your present and your future.
No, I’m not done. The season ties in another relevant and unfortunately common practice called “Trolling” which is almost always acted out with any popular piece of writing that goes onto the internet. As ego has grown in reality it’s grown even bigger for those comfortable spreading hate behind a screen, especially when there are rarely any consequences. But for Annie, the trolls take it a step further shaming her for her weight even though it has nothing to do with what she’s writing about. She even faces the ridicule in reality after not taking a stranger up on a workout offer. The girl’s ego is hurt by her denial to conform so she rebuttals by calling her a “fat bitch.” This scene is powerful because it symbolizes all of the uncalled judgmental and critical attention placed upon anyone that isn’t skinny enough for societal expectations.
Fuck being skinny enough. Be whatever size you are. Skinny and fat were bred for visual categorization and rationalized judgment without the chance to learn more. Learning takes time and effort, and not everyone has time for that. So we put people in boxes, and we bully most into staying inside of those boxes. Clearly, the origin of these labels come from a small-minded and lazy mentality. Small, big, giant, tiny, medium, disproportionate, proportionate, wicked big, wicked small, medium-large, extra-large, extra-small, extra-extra-small, who gives a shit? They’re all great. We have to stop striving to emulate the few body types that live in the limelight. Most bodies don’t live there, and they’re a hell of a lot happier for it. Even the ones that do live in this spotlight are rarely the real thing. We need more shows like Shrill that reward authenticity.
Shrill takes a woman who isn’t as visually accepted, and they accurately depict the non-differences a plus size young female faces as just a young female. You see Annie struggle with the constant background noise telling her not to embrace her body. Online, in reality, from friends and family, and even from strangers. But eventually, she finally figures out that welcoming her body is the key to focusing on the essential changes she actually needs to make in her life; the changes that really matter.
Let’s take her relationship with “walking talking red flag Ryan” for example. He uses her for sex, and she complies because that’s what she has been conditioned to do her entire life. She’s never felt desirable before, so she holds onto this situation, lovestruck from feeling slightly wanted and merely hoping for the best. He makes her leave out the back door unseen and manipulates her into allowing him to not wear a condom attempting to plead the case that it’s to benefit them both when it’s really just for him. He stands her up, and he dodges urgent text messages. She catches him with another girl only to find out he’s also fucking this girl, but he thinks it’s okay as he reminds Annie that they aren’t exclusive. She goes along with everything until she doesn’t. As he apologizes for the hundredth time, he begs her to give him another chance. On her way to speak with him she finds herself surprisingly inspired by another woman she crosses paths with. So instead of heading to Ryan’s, she ends up buying herself some flowers and just walks around alone. She makes the decision to choose and love every part of herself. The second she stops caring about what a toxic guy in her life thinks, she instantly sees a guy she’s known her whole life that’s wanted her this entire time; a guy that liked her for being herself. When you remove bad from your life, there’s room for good to make a play. You see clearly when the fog has been lifted. Annie and this guy have sex, it’s incredible, and she immediately goes into the kitchen to eat leftover pasta. At this pivotal point, she truly realizes she can do and be whoever the fuck she wants, and she will always be enough.
You’re enough, we’re all enough. We’re starting to be more inclusive with what we put on display, but we’re still not there yet. So we have to keep going. We have to learn to love our flaws until they aren’t flaws. We have to put realness back into focus and stop trying to imitate what’s forged and falsified. I believe we can get there with more shows like Shrill and the praise and recognition it deserves for leading the way.