Movie Review: Disfigured

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”.

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4 Responses

  1. […] here:  Movie Review: Disfigured « A Day in the (Fat) Life Related ArticlesBookmarksTags Film Review: Trying our patients by Diana Wichtel | New […]

  2. 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.

    True, and I think that it is precisely because Darcy knows this that she agrees to the “lessons.” Darcy finally agreed only because she wanted to show Lydia how miserable such a lifestyle is, not because she thought that it might actually be harmful for Lydia. Darcy struck me as someone who craves companionship, especially someone who can understand what its like to be her. I think that by agreeing to the lessons, she was hoping that Lydia would be able to understand her world a little bit better, not that Lydia would actually go on to develop an eating disorder.

    Weight Loss Surgery was also talked about as a viable option with few (if any) downsides being discussed.

    I think this lack of discussion reflects culture, though. My brother went to his doctor in December for a check up. His doctor spoke to him about his weight and recommended WLS as a first and only choice. No discussion of diet or exercise were offered — my brother was the one who brought those options up. In reading accounts from people who’ve had WLS, so many of them insist that it represented their only hope.

    I think we need to keep in mind that this film was not written or produced by someone in the fat acceptance movement, and so it should not be held to fat acceptance standards. I think “Disfigured” reflected popular cultural ideas on weight honestly and captured the experiences of many people on both ends of the weight spectrum.

    • I think we need to keep in mind that this film was not written or produced by someone in the fat acceptance movement, and so it should not be held to fat acceptance standards.

      You have a valid point, which is why I didn’t take points off for how the the “Fat Acceptance” group is treated througout the movie.

      But it’s like other movies where they (the writers and producers) have supposedly done research on the subject of the movie. When it comes out and the mistakes are so glaringly obvious, I feel let down. I understand not everybody is into *fill in the blank topic here*, but if you are making a movie that you are representing to be an accurate protrayal, and get something that wrong, it disappoints. At least, it does to me.

      I mean, watching A Knight’s Tale, I wasn’t expecting authenticity in costuming or plot or socio-economic positions of men, women, poor people, anything. It wasn’t being advertised as a historically accurate movie. I was expecting entertainment and that’s what I got (even though I did snark some of the costuming, and the line dancing). Watching The Tudors, I expect better because it’s advertised as being historically accurate.*

      *Note: I’ve NOT in fact watched The Tudors. I use that as an example because people who I know who are history geeks for that time period have watched and say there are many glaringly obvious inaccuracies in that show. The fact that they are geeks for that time period might make their perception a bit skewed, I don’t know.

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