Size Matters in “Shrill”

Hulu’s Shrill, which premiered last week, is a love letter to all the women and girls who have been taught their entire lives that they should never love themselves because of the size of their bodies.  

The Hulu series, starring and co-written by Aidy Bryant of Saturday Night Live and based on the Lindy West book of the same name, follows Bryant’s Annie—a smart, confident, funny, self-identified fat woman—as she lives her day-to-day life as a budding journalist and confronts the issues she faces living in a world made for thin people.

The first episode opens in Annie’s room, where she is getting dressed for the day, and can’t seem to find anything that looks the way she thinks it should. Eventually, she pulls her sweater around her knees, attempting to get the perfect amount of bagginess that will hide her stomach in the most “flattering” way possible.

It’s a scene that all women who are insecure about their bodies know well. It’s also a stark reminder to viewers that everything is built around thin people—including not only the beauty standards that shape our clothing options, but even the specific way that clothing fits.

Annie’s character is staunchly positive, but much of her day-to-day life is fraught with similar moments that pit her against a fatphobic culture. Her mother, her boss, even random strangers in coffee shops have something to say about her body, including seemingly innocuous comparisons between her and Rosie O’Donnell and condescending encouragement to exercise. Annie even faces down violent comments online from trolls who threaten her with death and sexual violence because of her size.

Pardon the pun, but it’s worth noting: Fat women in the media are often categorized into a slim number of overused tropes. They either have a thick skin, or every little thing bothers them. They are either the overly confident “sassy” friend, or they succumb to depths of self-hatred.

Bryant’s Annie, though, embodies all of these qualities. She unapologetically celebrates her “fat ass and big titties,”  but she also sits on the sidelines at a pool party, unwilling to remove her jeans and baggy shirt to enjoy the water with everyone else.

Annie is an anomaly. She’s a multifaceted, genuine fat woman. She’s just the kind of representation we need.


Ashley LeCroy is an editorial intern for Ms. and a passionate self-identified feminist who aims both to advocate and make space for the world's most marginalized communities. Ashley is currently pursuing a dual degree in Political Science and English with a minor in Anthropology at UCLA—where she writes for FEM, the student-run feminist news magazine, and works on the Art Series staff for the Cultural Affairs Commission.