Shrill talks about plus-size women and the morning-after pill when the medical community won’t
portrayals of plus-size sex lives–or the determined lack thereof–might cause you to think a pledge of celibacy comes with shopping in the plus-size segment. “Hello, ma’am, we’ve noticed you’ve picked up a plus-sized article of clothing–please be sure to check out our row of chastity belts.” That’s not how it works. In this apparent media blackout on all storylines relating to plus-size women and their sexuality lives, the very first episode of Hulu’s new series, Shrill, based on the memoir by Lindy West, will surprise you. The display revolves around the life of protagonist Annie, a plus-size female who is trying to build her voice heard, both in her journalism and in her everyday relationships. And, yes, she does have sex.
[ The rest of this article contains spoilers for Shrill]
From the very first episode, the audience find Annie hooking up with her boyfriend/ fuckboi Ryan( Luka Jones) in his bedroom after a text invitation similar to an eggplant emoji. Though the sexuality doesn’t appear to be all that enjoyable on her end…and he asks her to hop the back fencing afterward to avoid running into his friends, the scene is demonstrated that Annie has sex on the regular.
As Annie sets her clothes back on, Ryan casually mentions the fact that they didn’t use a condom. In the next scene, Annie races towards the pharmaceutical counter at the back of a convenience store in search of the morning after pill. Then, a few months after take said pill, Annie begins experiencing certain symptoms: irritability, a stomach bug that doesn’t seem to go away, and, you guessed it, she’s pregnant.
It turns out that a lot of emergency contraceptives like Plan B are less effective on females over 175 pounds–but we don’t hear that in dialogues about EC.
Considering that the average American girl weighs 166 pounds, this statistic is more than a little frightening–especially when abortion access is shrinking by the day, making access to Scheme B or similar over-the-counter brands especially important to prevent unintended pregnancies.
Wait a second. I’m watching “Shrill” and…the morning-after pill is merely dosed for women 175 pounds and under? Huh ?!
— Morgan Jerkins (@ MorganJerkins) March 15, 2019
Annie is stumped when the pharmacist discreetly asks her if she’s over the weight restriction, and she demands to know why the pill’s weight limitation isn’t common knowledge.
And just as in the indicate, this fact is not common knowledge in real life either. Whenever I’ve casually mentioned it to my friends, the straight-size girls are baffled and the plus-size girls are appalled. What are they supposed to do if they find themselves in an emergency? Despite years of studies proving this troubling link between weight and effectiveness, there are still no emergency contraceptives available that work specifically for plus-size girls. It’s as if society has been received information that weight is linked with longing, so plus-size women can’t perhaps have enough sexuality to necessitate such a medication.
This problem may be related to another disturbing factor: The medical field doesn’t take plus-size women’s reproductive health seriously.
Even after research into BMI and the morning after pill’s effectiveness, the medication still doesn’t have any warning label regarding these outcomes. Medical professionals being less likely to listen to their female patients is a universal problem regardless of the patient’s size, but plus-size females must also compete with the idea that any medical problem would be fixed if they just lost a few pounds. This mindset can prevent professionals from giving a proper diagnosis to their patients, and it can prevent them from even going to see their doctors for fear of receiving nothing but that faux universal cure. This medical presumption also does very little to address gaps in health care because there is no incentive to alter medicines or create an alternative.
finally have time to watch SHRILL and let me tell you, this morning after pill dialogue IS THE MOST IMPORTANT. They don’t tell you that it doesn’t work for women over 175 lbs and candidly it should be made incredibly clear
— Odalis Garcia Gorra (@ odcgg) March 18, 2019
The media is taking steps to portray plus-size characters in control of their own narrations, including Netflix’s adaptation of Dumplin ‘ and the character of Kate in NBC’s This Is Us, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Annie’s navigation of sex health opens up an inclusive dialogue about sexuality, contraception and, yes, abortion. As proves like Shrill successfully out the dirty little secret that plus-size women have sex and shed light on how their health is overlooked, I hope the public will start to realize that all women and all bodies deserve access to safe sex options.
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