“The Girls” have been friends, and fat, for years. Their bond goes deep and wide, literally and figuratively. Smart, complex, warm and compelling, the Girls met through the Austin chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance and partied together among Austin’s Big Beautiful Women community. Meanwhile, they tried every diet and every pill. But now, getting older and facing more health and mobility challenges, they’re choosing to have the gastric band or gastric bypass weight-loss surgery. The experience presents a host of issues and consequences — some they expected, some they feared, and some they never could have imagined. Produced and directed by Alexandra Lescaze, All of Me premieres on Independent Lens on KUED, Tuesday, March 25 at 11:00 p.m.
The Girls have varied post-op experiences, but one reality is true for all of them: having surgery means the loss of their primary coping strategy (eating). The experience of shedding — or trying to shed — hundreds of pounds changes everything. Their health, their self-images, their marriages, and friendships are all at stake.
Although All of Me focuses on just one group of women, their story is not unique; more than 90 million Americans are obese. Our society’s diet and exercise talking points do not compute for those who have hundreds of pounds to lose. 200,000 people a year are choosing weight-loss surgery and 80% of them are women.
The film focuses on the journeys of three of the Girls: the strong-willed Judy, who is determined to succeed; Dawn, who had an early career as the fat model and calendar girl “Bridget,” and is struggling with both her weight and her identity; and the heaviest of the Girls, Zsalynn, who, at over 500 pounds, is trying to save enough money for surgery, out of desperation and for her young daughter’s sake.
Through the stories of these unforgettable women, All of Me shines light on our attitudes, misunderstandings, and prejudices about obesity — its causes, challenges, and the intense psychological struggle so many have with food that no surgery or diet can cure. The Girls’ journeys of self-discovery are fascinating and inspiring, and, as in life, there are heartbreaks and unexpected consequences along the way. The Girls take us through their food addiction and emotional eating with a searing honesty. For a group that is so often vilified, joked about, or ignored, All of Me provides a much-needed platform for their stories and encourages viewers to take a fresh look at their own complicated relationships with food, fat, and their bodies.