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- I’ve got misty hazel green eyes
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When, in the first season, Annie hurtles her body over a chain-link fence because Ryan, the man who would eventually become her boyfriend, was scared of his friends finding out he was having sex with a fat woman, we remember our own experiences sneaking out back doors after hooking up with men who were ashamed to be seen with us. And for someone who grew up when the only fat people on television were shilling diet products or serving as the butt of the joke, watching Shrill was exhilarating, even in its most mundane moments.
Aidy Bryant striking a defiant pose as Annie, in the final image from season two of Shrill. We remember the times that, like Annie, we were shamed by overzealous fitness trainers who promised diet and exercise would make us stop hating ourselves.
But for those fat women who have made peace—or heaven forbid, fallen in love—with our bodies, Shrill is so much more than a reminder of our trauma. And now that the show is over, it will enter the annals of television history as one of its most transgressive pieces of media solely because it managed to treat fat people as complex, interesting characters who are deserving of love and lust and nuance and, most importantly, dignity.
Never before have we seen a fat woman go from being too afraid to take off her bra during sex to confidently climbing on top, fully prepared to receive the pleasure she deserves. Fat is, as Annie says, just a descriptor, not a moral judgment. Annie makes mistakes—she lashes out at the wrong people, blows off her friends, and generally acts like a jerk sometimes—and that makes her character feel endlessly human.
In Annie, a new generation of fat women has a role model who is more relatable than aspirational, a character able to find comfort in her body despite living in a world that is deeply unsettled by the happiness of fat women. Shrill takes a quietly radical approach to examining that world.
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It makes me hopeful for a future where fat girls and women can feel confident wearing the clothes that they love, pursuing sexual pleasure, and obtaining essential reproductive health care. Shrill imagined a new world, one in which fat women get to live happy lives where something as simple as eating a meal or shopping for clothes or letting your new boyfriend see your naked body can actually feel joyous and not impossibly fraught.
Aidy Bryant as Annie in the season one episode "Pool". Filed under.
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