The “Girls” have been friends — and morbidly obese — for years. They 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.
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), and 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, (mis)understandings, 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 our own prejudices and complicated relationships with food, fat, and our bodies.
The post-film discussion panel includes Dr. Carly Woods, assistant professor of Communication Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at UNL; Anne Widga, a registered dietitian, licensed medical nutrition therapist and certified diabetes educator; and a bariatric surgery post-operation patient.
Coffee and Conversation is free and open to the public. Each film screening at Lincoln's Mary Riepma Ross Theatre is followed by a community discussion in UNL’s Van Brunt Visitors Center.