Everything wrong with Sierra Burgess Is A Loser
I grew up a chubby kid with insecurities. As a fat girl who was herself a reject, seeing fat girls as protagonists is a breath of fresh air. As a teenager in Mexico, most high school movies revolved around white people and losing your virginity. There was no representation of girls like me, whatsoever. No Mexicans. Fat girls were usually rejects or mean bitchy sidekicks.
It really is refreshing to see a chubby girl like myself be the movie star. But it’s been 10 years since high school for me and I’ve also grown out of many of my teenage insecurities and into 2018 being an outspoken no nonsense feminist. So I feel it is my duty to enlist everything* wrong with Sierra Burgess Is A Loser. If you keep reading it’s because you’ve seen the film, since there are some minor spoilers ahead.
Fat girls are ugly. It’s 2018. The year Tess Holiday made it to the cover of Cosmo. Fat women are not only beautiful on the inside, but also on the outside. Fat girls and women don’t have the responsibility of being extra interesting to rely on their personality any more. We can be just beautiful. Plus, have you seen Shannon Purser? Why is everyone so convinced that just because Sierra is fat she’s not beautiful? Are you for real? She’s stereo-typically beautiful. Look at that angel face and those curves. Why are we still playing on the Ugly Betty idea that if you take someone’s glasses off, pluck her eyebrows and throw some make up on her she becomes instantly beautiful? We are already beautiful, without the production and in all our fat glory.
Fat girls can only get a guy when they trick him. Why are we still propagating this idea that “if only you could see past looks you’ll find beauty”? For real. It bothered me so much. This point specifically was problematic to me because the film is actually doing something right by teaching a jock to look past someone’s appearance and getting to know her but I hated that it was through dishonesty. To get attention we have to become devious liars? Isn’t there any honest way to get a guy to like us? I know this is the premise of the film but I really can’t get past the fact that she had to lie to him to get him.
Sierra is actually a horrible person. I know we’re supposed to like her. She’s the victim of patriarchy and she’s an outcast only because she’s smart and fat. But really, she’s a horrible person. I wish I could’ve come up with the comebacks she came up with. Granted, Veronica was also a mean girl but by the end of the film I was Team Veronica way more than I was team Sierra. What Sierra did to Veronica was unforgivable. But also, the whole lying to everyone, literally being a creep that hides under a car, that’s just wrong. I want to like her so badly but she just makes it so, so difficult. I identify with being an outcast, I definitely do not identify with being a bitch. Also, what is up with the fat people being the meanest ones? Between Sierra and Veronica’s mom, this propagates the stereotype that fat women are bitter and mean and revenge oriented.
Consent is nonexistent. In terms of consent, there were two times, one worse than the other, where the idea of consent is just thrown out the window. First, when Jamey sends Sierra that seminude. He should ask before sending any kind of nude. The second time consent was disregarded was when Sierra pretended to be Veronica and kissed Jamey. Jamey consented to kiss Veronica, not this stranger that was creeping under his car. Consent works with both men and women. We live in the #MeToo era, dammit. This type of thing should not fly.
We need to talk about the pretending to be deaf bit and the casual transphobe-homophobic comments. When Sierra pretends to be deaf and Jamey’s brother get’s all excited and she just looks at him, it was very uncomfortable. It made me cringe. See how she’s a horrible person? She’d rather fake a disability than tell the truth. And about the casual “I’m not trans” and “why does everyone keep saying I’m a lesbian” part, for real, I saw the writer DMing someone who criticized her by saying “people always assumed I was a lesbian or trans” and all I have to say is grow the fuck up. People always assumed I was a lesbian because I was a tomboy. My family assumed I was a lesbian for like 8 years but since I don’t actually think it’s a bad thing to be a lesbian I never bothered to correct them. It’s straight up homophobic to deny you’re a lesbian in such a horrible way, like it’s a bad thing.
All in all, I couldn’t watch the film without constantly pausing it because it made me cringe. The film has many positive things that I’m sure will be praised in other articles. I felt that, as a fat woman, it was my duty to point out how this film failed us. I’m a big believer in representation and fat girls need to be represented in better ways. Even though here I talk about everything that is wrong with the film, it actually made me question a lot about my high school years and how I never felt like I deserved a love story, just like Sierra. So I guess something really positive has come out of me watching a film like this, I just wonder if teenage girls have the maturity to understand that they are deserving of love, regardless of their social status at school.
We need better representation and better role-models. We need fat girls who are confident and strong but aren’t bitchy or mean or vindictive. We need boys who like us without us tricking them. We need mean girls to realize they’re mean without us being mean to them. Do better, filmmakers.
*The film actually has a lot of positive things, this is just my take some of the things it got wrong.