Last month, Thick Skin premiered on Sundance TV/AMC+. The four-part docuseries follows four women as they contend with weight bias while building fulfilling lives for themselves. Radical self-acceptance is at the heart of the episodes, with each woman challenging weight stigma in her own personal and professional life. Through the stories of Queen, Ashley, Susanne and Lexi, Thick Skin speaks to the harmful societal expectation of thinness, with a focus on the way it impacts women and girls.
Research finds that by the time they are seventeen, 78% of girls report being unhappy with their bodies. That does not happen by accident. It happens because of the unrealistic body standards upheld by our loved ones, communities, and in our media. Patterns and common themes become clear as viewers follow Thick Skin’s subjects. Parents, school, extracurricular activities, and romantic partners had a profound impact on the women’s body images. In this, we see that everyone has an important role to play in uplifting body acceptance and positivity.
Beyond embracing body acceptance in their own lives, each of the docuseries’ subjects champion these values for others. For instance, Susanne, a nurse practitioner, emphasized the importance of confronting fatphobia in healthcare. Lexi calls out the lack of fat representation in theater as “thefatingenue” on TikTok. Queen, as a burlesque dancer, and Ashely, as a baker, tackle stereotypes and misconceptions in their professions as well.
Thick Skin is an important work, especially when considered against the lack of fat representation in media as a whole. As we showed in our 2022 #AllBodies Report, fat representation of women and girls is virtually nonexistent in media–and often characterized by harmful tropes and stereotypes. Instead of following this trend, the docuseries challenges common beliefs around weight stigma and fatness. Informative extras on fat-shaming, toxic diet culture, weight loss, and empathy are also included on SundanceTV for additional learning.
Take Action! Thick Skin is streaming on Sundance TV. It’s a must-watch for the powerful insights and storytelling. Looking to further your own body acceptance journey? Check out a few books recommended by our Executive Director, Dr. Caroline Heldman, HERE.