Picture it: Cross River, New York, 2003. Like many middle school girls of that time, I was on my way to an indoor pool birthday party. Having just purchased a new swimsuit, I was a size 16, with unshaven legs and no make-up knowledge, but was willing to give this social gathering thing a shot. Doggie paddles, laughter, and some awkward exchanges were had by all. Everything seemed to be going fine – that is, until I entered the bathroom doors to change back into my non-swim attire.
A party attendee, of a much smaller size, giggled as she entered with her friends. Suddenly, my stall door was pushed wide open, the lock busted from the side. I was naked, beginning to have the shock settle in as multiple classmates laughed at my figure. “Fat ass! Chubby! Gross!” they cried, as each one took a turn ambushing me in my most vulnerable state, running in a merry-go-round style. They eventually stopped, but I didn’t leave the bathroom until the party had finished.
Flash forward to 2019, and in baggie pajamas and unbrushed hair, I decide to enter the world of Hulu’s new original series, Shrill. And somehow, through its short 6 half-hour episode course, I have never felt more appreciated and seen in my entire media watching life.
As a plus size New Yorker with similar dreams and dilemmas, I get Annie on a lot of levels. I am the big girl at the office in the quirky printed bow covered dresses, dated men who though I might be attracted to, never fully represented my own self-worth, and have had family that constantly brings up my weight whenever humanly possible. The fear of entering into the hotel pool on family vacations, the disgusting diet food I forced on myself, and the snippy comments from a prior fat-phobic employer? All part of mine and many other’s stories.
But there was one crucial moment in episode 4 that got right into my core. Annie decides to attend a local event with her bff, Fran – a plus size inclusive pool party. Her main objective is to write an article about said event, but the assignment turns into something much more personal, a discovery of her deepest body image fears. She arrives in a button down shirt and pants, but by the end of the shindig, Annie literally sheds her protective shell and emerges a woman who literally dives into a pool of self acceptance. And never has an image on television been more beautiful – seriously, try to top that, HBO.
Between this sequence, various moments of Annie getting it on with two very attractive men, defending herself against a rude gym instructor, and standing up to her incredibly arrogant boss, this is the show I wish had existed throughout my entire life. These are the images I was convinced would never have appear anywhere aside from my day dreams, making it quite obvious that Shrill is something special.
The fact that I can finally see a beautiful plus size woman on TV get her bra taken off in the sexiest yet most real of ways, is absolutely incredible. That I have found a character who makes mistakes that I’ve made, and yet tries her best to reclaim her worth, is inspiring. And to know that I wasn’t the only girl that had to go through a moment like that at pool party in middle school, but saw the light at the end of the tunnel? That’s a feeling that even the English language can’t properly describe.
You can watching the entire first season of Shrill on Hulu right now.