Last week I received Disfigured in the mail from Netflix. I’d heard both good and bad things about the movie, and so wanted to see it. As I watched it, I found the movie had both good and bad points.
The basic premise of the movie is an unlikely relationship between a woman struggling with anorexia, Darcy (Staci Lawrence) and a woman who is fat, Lydia (Deidra Edwards). Darcy tries to attend a Fat Acceptance meeting because she feels she is too fat, and wants to learn to accept her fat. She is pointedly asked to leave. Lydia speaks up for Darcy, even though she’s never met her before, but is voted down by the rest of the attendees.
This starts a relationship that gets worse before it gets better. Darcy has flyers created for Lydia’s “Fat Acceptance Walking Group”. Lydia calls Darcy up later to talk, and a friendship starts up. During the course of the movie, we get to see some of each of the women’s personal life: Darcy at a party her parents are at, Darcy working as a Realtor. Lydia running an antique store, Lydia becoming a “friend with benefits” to a man who came out for her walking group. The walking group being harassed by a homeless man.
As their friendship progresses, Lydia asks Darcy to teach her how to be anorexic. At first, Darcy resists, but finally gives in. This sets both Darcy and Lydia up for failure, as Lydia can only not eat for a short while, and Darcy seems to embrace her anorexia as she teaches more to Lydia.
In the end, both Darcy and Lydia grow from the relationship. Darcy reaches out to her former psychotherapist, and Lydia starts a Size Acceptance group (as opposed to the Fat Acceptance group at the beginning of the movie).
Being that this was a movie, I expected there to be things wrong, and there were. The most objectionable aspect of this movie was when Lydia asked to be taught how to be anorexic, and Darcy agreed to teach her. Anorexia, an eating disorder, is not something one can learn. It is a mental illness. And even though there were comments made by Darcy that anorexia is an illness, those comments ring false when she agrees to teach. Weight Loss Surgery was also talked about as a viable option with few (if any) downsides being discussed.
There were also upsides of the movie. The scene where Darcy and Lydia are talking about the similar things they both heard when people commented on their weight was simultaneously funny and poignant. Darcy did try to talk Lydia out of her plan to “learn” anorexia. Eventually, Lydia started her own Size Acceptance group, and talked about how it was about accepting yourself as you are, and trying to find something to like about yourself. And there was a sex scene that did not shy away from the curves of either character, and showed both the male and female to be desirable.
The movie did a very good job showing the hate fat people receive, even when they are exercising. At one point, as Lydia is power walking alone (because she breaks all the rules she sets for her Fat Acceptance Walking Group), she is confronted by the homeless man. She lets go on him, telling him how awful he is: he’s homeless, an alcoholic, hasn’t had a shower in months, has to panhandle, and is a pathetic individual. His response: “At least I’m not fat!”
All in all, I think this movie can be a place to start conversations. It has too many thing wrong with it to be a very good movie, but I think it can be useful. However, because the things it gets wrong are major things, I only give it a “C”.