Alexandra Lescaze: Producer and Director, An Interview
All of Me is a new documentary about a group of female friends in Austin, Texas. The women are morbidly obese. “The Girls” as they refer to themselves, initially met via the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA), then fostered friendships at parties held within the Big Beautiful Women community (also known as BBW), and those friendships became reinforced over the years as they continued to meet at varying social gatherings. What the documentary intimately shows is the joys of friendship, connection, and acceptance and how those ties that bind can be strained when WLS catalyzes different transformational changes for the women of the group.
As a Weight Loss Surgery provider, I can say that the stories told in this documentary are on the one hand very unique, each persons journey is their own journey, right? But at the same time the stories are unique, the issues that are brought up, the triumphs and tribulations are totally relatable. In the words of Alexandra herself, “…by giving the girls a platform in the film, they can share their stories, be heard, and pave the way for other women to come forward and share their own voices, experiences, struggles, and wisdom.”
The documentary will air on PBS on 3/24/14 at 10pm ET, 9:00pm CT. It is also being shown at different independent film festivals around the country and at WLS support groups on a case-by-case basis.
DAWN: Had lap band surgery. Was involved in NAAFA in the 1970’s during its grassroots growth. Regarding the girls, Dawn states: “We came together as fat girls, fat women, and now we are getting to be smaller together.” At one intimate point in the documentary Dawn states, “Having weight loss surgery is like following a path and road map. You can take road A or road B. If you take road A you are doing everything you are supposed to be doing. Judy is on road A. I am still on road B, or C, or D. My roads are not even paved.” Which was her way of saying “I am lost.” She became lost between her large self and her thin self, her BBW friends and no other friends, and being with her husband or not with him. Regarding her journey with losing weight at one point she states, “I am here” (she holds her hands in front of herself). “My thin Me is here” (she holds her hands to the side of her). ““There is a WALL between the two. I don’t know how the “F” to get over that wall.””
Regarding her history with food: Dawn: Was raised in a dysfunctional family. She learned to use food as a coping method for not being hurt.
Dawn had some struggles with her band when it became overly tight. She had to have all the fluid out of her band and she gained weight. As this happened she started pulling away from her support system because she was not feeling supported. She noted that as the girls started losing weight, there was an explosion of self-confidence and she felt disconnected to those feelings herself.
Dawn’s husband likes women of size. Dawn recounts that her husband understands why she wants to lose weight for her health but in her losing weight he is also losing the woman he married the way he married her. Dawn also shares that her husband had been married before to a woman who lost a lot of weight. After his ex-wife lost weight, she met another man and they divorced. This fact hangs over their relationship. Dawn also knows that her husband prefers large women. This gives the viewer the impression that both Dawn and her husband are fearful for their longevity of their relationship for the same but different reasons.
JUDY: Had RYGB. One of the last in the group to have WLS. As a result she had clear a understanding of what to expect. She states she followed her program recommendations very carefully. As a result she has been very successfully with her weight loss. She also became a yoga instructor along the way.
Regarding her history with food: Judy: Recounts an emotional trauma of losing her mother in an automobile accident as a child. She turned to food to comfort herself.
Judy’s husband understood why she wanted to have WLS. He supported her decision. On their drive to her having the surgery, Judy states she does not think she will change a lot. Her husband mentions he has heard there is a high divorce rate after WLS because the relationship cannot handle all the change. During the documentary her husband talks about the things he misses about their relationship before WLS, mostly having to do with going out to restaurants and eating together. Judy fought for her relationship with her husband but she was also clear that she was not going to take care of her husband “like your mother.” Judy’s husband has since had RYGB himself.
ZSALYNN (Jha-Lynn): Had an early version of the lap band but had it removed. She has not had another weight loss surgery. She grew up on a ranch and was left alone for much of her early years. She describes a lot of emotional trauma growing up around her body image and her sense of self worth. Food became her best friend which she used as her anesthetic of choice to help her feel “numb.” She is in a marriage that is less than healthy. She has no support from her husband to lose weight and become healthier. She has a daughter that is her priority. She has been saving money to have WLS because her insurance does not pay for surgery. She acknowledges that she often puts on a mask and pretends to be happy.
Links mentioned in this episode:
NAAFA www.naafa.org- We Come In All Sizes
Abby Lentz http://www.heartfeltyoga.com
Ragen Chastain www.danceswithfat.wordpress.com
As Promised: My Pre-Interview Check-List
INTERVIEW TO DO LIST
TURN OFF SOUND ON PHONE
TURN ON ROLAND, EMPTY CARD
TURN ON MIXER
PRESS RECORD ON ROLAND PRESS RECORD ON ROLAND PRESS RECORD ON ROLAND
PRESS RECORD ON SKYPE CALL RECORDER
THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. THIS IS FOR EVERYONE OUT THERE LISTENING.
- CONNECT WITH SKYPE INTERVIEWEE
- ASK THEM TO PLEASE MUTE THEIR PHONE AND TURN OFF THEIR SKYPE SOUND IN PREFERENCES
- CHECK SOUND LEVELS ON ROLAND AND CALL RECORDER
- TELL THEM WHEN YOU ARE DONE RECORDING AND SAY GOODBYE, DONT HANG UP.
That’s it for now. Oh but, don’t forget to sign up for my new email list! As well as subscribe to the podcast and while you are there, leave a favorable rating of the show!
In Peace and with Connection,
Reeger Cortell, FNP-C