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Fat Girl

average rating is 4 out of 5


William Hemingway


Posted on:

Aug 14, 2023

Film Reviews
Fat Girl
Directed by:
Makez Rikweda
Written by:
Makez Rikweda
Stella Stevens, India Lillie Davis

With Barbie (2023) mania currently sweeping through the world's theatres, raising more than $500 million in revenue and kicking the grey, sombre tones of its main rival Oppenheimer (2023) into the long grass, it seems as though the planet may be finally waking up to the feminist struggle and be willing to spend their time and money on hearing the message that has for so long been sidelined or drowned out by small fearful men in grey suits.


However, for all of the clear, outwardly stated messaging of female empowerment, personal agency and dismantling of the patriarchy, Greta Gerwig's seemingly triggering social comedy comes across as particularly light on the topics of self-image, self-esteem, self-criticism and self-hatred, and with absolutely no mention of eating disorders (unless you count the fact that they don't actually eat or drink anything in Barbieland). Yes, lip service is paid to the “impossible beauty standards” portrayed by the slimline plastic beauty but after one conversation on how Barbie has let generations of women down, it's barely mentioned again.


Thankfully, other film-makers are on hand to take up the cause and in writer/director Makez Rikweda's new short film, Fat Girl we get to witness first-hand how the pervasive influence of social media impacts the mental and physical wellbeing of young girls and teens. Lexi (Stevens) is one such teen who is just trying to live her life under the umbrella of the societal pressure exerted upon her from through her mobile phone. The regular teenage hang-ups of bodily changes, hormonal flux, social awkwardness and an intense need to fit in, are all amplified to the Nth degree as beautiful, slim, stacked bodies bare their wares in lavish surroundings advertising a lifestyle that is designed to be appealing but ultimately remains unachievable.


Through the screen in her pocket Lexi is consumed by the love-bombing and empty supportive statements trotted out like motivational poster quotes by her favourite sociopathic parasite, or should that be social media influencer, Carly (Davis). Their lives and looks are nothing alike but still Lexi wants to emulate what she sees and this leads her down a dark path towards bulimia and DIY surgery. Rikweda pulls no punches in setting out and detailing Lexi's issues in Fat Girl, with the title giving some insight to the harsh, stark realities of how insecurity is preyed upon by those trying to elevate themselves and make a quick buck.


Playing much like an arthouse movie, Fat Girl necessarily focuses more on imagery than on dialogue as we are party to a colourful showreel of TikToks from Carly which are then contrasted with the bleak mundanity of Lexi's real life. The one scene which is dialogue heavy again focuses on beauty, the projection of beauty and the all important acceptance of others but is told in the yoofspeak of teenagers and therefore may well be incomprehensible to anyone older than millennial status. This does, however, keep the film firmly rooted in reality and speaks to the integrity of the film-makers.


The technical aspects of Fat Girl are all excellently handled with the vision of Rikweda shining through in every scene. Cinematographer, Rui Jiang Ong contrasts the difference between TikTok fantasy and everyday reality with real skill and the music from Hollie Buhagiar shifts from hopeful naivete to concerning depression without missing a beat. The visual style of the film, mixing different viewpoints, uses and intents of the camera, really helps to keep the presentation fresh and exciting while also highlighting the disconnect between what Lexi has and what she wants in her life.


As a treatise on the dangers of social media and the influencing of youngsters into harmful lifestyle practices, Fat Girl shocks the viewer into taking note. It takes a clear line on what is happening to the youth of today and serves as a stark warning as to what can result from it. With a genuine vision and real skill, Rikweda brings us face to face with a reality that may be happening under our very noses, making Fat Girl an urgent and provocative watch.

About the Film Critic
William Hemingway
William Hemingway
Short Film
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