A candid conversation. Aidy Bryant got honest about her relationship with the word “fat” and how her own journey shaped her show Shrill.
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“It is a descriptor and, like, I am fat,” Bryant, 33, told the Washington Post on Thursday, April 30. “To me, it’s like taking the power out of it. It doesn’t have to be so loaded. It’s just true, and sitting with that, it makes it easier for me. It just feels a little less frightening.”
Inspired by her own experiences with doctors, the Shrill writer and star included a similar scene in the opening of the show’s third season in which Bryant’s character, Annie Easton, sees a physician who recommends gastric bypass surgery to lose weight.
“Their assumption is that I have that as a goal, and just by looking at me, they assume that’s the reason I’m there at the doctor’s office,” the comedian explained. “And there’s an assumption that if you’re fat, you’ve given up on yourself. And it’s like, I exercise all the time. I don’t eat doughnuts for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
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The Saturday Night Live cast member added that these conversations around body positivity influenced her show Shrill, which she is an executive producer on as well.
“I can think of about a million examples, and I won’t name names, where sex between a plus-sized woman and a man is represented by her jumping on him and then he falls over,” Bryant said about trying to avoid outdated tropes about weight and sex on the show. “That’s a classic. And there’s something so demeaning and devastating about that to me. It feels like trying to joke it away rather than sincerely finding an actual funny moment. In a normal sex scene between two normal-sized people, you could still find comedy in that. And I think our show does.”
Bryant has previously spoken about the impact that her show has had on its audience.
“It’s hard to say because so many people have different takeaways. But one thing that has touched me is that a lot of people, especially thin people, have said, ‘It made me think about how I speak about other people’s bodies,’” the writer told Shondaland in January 2020.
She added: “That’s what it’s about in so many ways. It’s about creating empathy, sympathy and compassion for other people. Being more thoughtful. What feels like a tossed off comment to you can really cut someone or penetrate who they are as a person. I think we do feel for people in the show, whether it’s Annie or anyone else, and you care for them.”
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The Emmy nominee also noted the change that is happening when it comes to conversations about weight and people’s bodies.
“Shrill has helped make that conversation feel less okay. Generally speaking, it’s good to not comment on anyone’s body, good or bad. I think it’s a personal relationship,” she shared. “I’ve been in a position where people say to me: ‘Wow, you look great! You look like you lost weight.’ And maybe I have or haven’t, but either way, it puts you in a position. Like, ‘Don’t assess me.’ You know? It’s a tricky, complicated thing. There’s a lot of feelings about their bodies. That’s ultimately what we’re trying to get at here.”
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