I saw the premiere of America the Beautiful 2, the Thin Commandments. If it is playing in a theater near you, go see it. If it isn't, email your local theater asking to show it and spread the word.
In his previous movie, director Daryl Roberts investigated American's obsession with beauty, and the industry that obsession supports. (That movie is available as a DVD or online purchase through Amazon etc., and Netflix has it as an instant play feature).
This film, Roberts' second, is about American's obsession with thinness and dieting. Over the course of 85 minutes Roberts shows his personal experience concerning food, eating disorders, HAES, weight related issues, politics of dieting, and his own habits.
The movie starts with Roberts getting a doctors appointment (the first in 10 years) where he is diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, and was at risk for diabetes. After refusing medication due to his lack of health insurance and learning that possible side effects include erectile dysfunction, Daryl searches for weight loss solutions. The obvious first stop involves looking into a gimmicky diet, then raw foods. Then in a montage of shots, he tries Weight Watchers, Lean Cuisine, and the Cookie Diet. All of which cause him to lose weight and gain it back. Then instead of dieting, he starts exercising regularly.
He touches on issues of weight bias, including his sister, unable to get IVF unless she loses weight, a good friend obsessed with what she eats and how much she exercises, a woman who swings back and forth between anorexia and bulimia, Plus size model Anansa Sims (daughter of model Beverly Johnson), and dancer and blogger Ragen Chastain who explained that her doctor wanted her to "walk more" after which she had to explained she danced about 20 hours a week. Sims' journey is particularly harrowing: a big girl who desperately wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps, she lost weight consistently at the orders of her coaches. No matter how much she lost, it was never good enough for the modeling world. Her answer: she regained all the weight and found success as a plus size model.
When Roberts returns to his doctor after taking up biking (he was at our screening and said he is still riding) he hadn't lost much weight but he had no trace of his diagonsed illnesses and had perfect blood pressure. Ragen Chastain who she claimed is at the top of the obese scale is also metabolically healthy.
While this doesn't prove anything because it is only two people who happened to be both healthy and moving regularly. I don't know what Ragen eats but Daryl still eats junk food although he supplements with more vegetables, but here are two people where exercise, not dieting, made them healthier. Shouldn't be looking more to encourage movement rather than losing weight? Shouldn't we stop labeling people by their size?
And here is a not so great picture of me with the director.