BFI Flare 2021 ‘Well Rounded’ Review: An Urgent Plea for Understanding

When a person wants to express their dislike of seeing fat people, they will tend to say that they should lose weight for their own sake. It’s the healthy thing to do. When in fact the prejudice comes from aesthetic bias, assumptions about self-control and laziness, and strange concepts of patriotism. Well Rounded explores the impact of this prejudice and what healthier attitudes to weight might look like.

The film makers interview women who have struggled with societies labels. The unique form of prejudice that fat people face is explored as it pertains to attitudes towards food, self-image and the sources of weight stigma. The impact of family is particularly disturbing as potential support networks become sources of shame. All of these attitudes need to be questioned and Well Rounded does a marvellous job of showing the people at the heart of this prejudice.

The extent to which the women are blamed for the stigma they face is very thoroughly explored. Societal attitudes towards fat people are terrifyingly widespread. Studies are shared suggesting that doctors spend less time with fat patients and base their healthcare advice on prejudice rather than actual health advice. More disturbing are the experiences of these women, particularly at the hands of medical professionals and the police. This film can be hard to watch.

What’s missing, and what the film hopes to celebrate, is the idea that it’s possible to be fat AND healthy and that weight is not the best measure of health. It’s not just a film lamenting how terrible things are, it’s a vibrant celebration of its interviewees and their bodies and a plea for more representation, better understanding and a basic level of compassion towards rounder people. If there’s a fault, it’s simply that it could have gone further and said even more. In particular I would have liked to have heard more about how larger people can be healthy, but it’s still a refreshing change from the usual narrative.

Four Stars

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