Let us begin with a reality check: While social media has imparted a new meaning to our lives and modes of communication and expression, it has also given rise to the phenomenon of social media influencers. These influencers, swarming in brand endorsements, wearing the best kind of clothes, and eating only the choicest meals, are all garnered towards the same goal – living the best life.

They make their lives appear magically vibrant in front of the camera, dancing for 60 seconds in rehearsed steps and giving off the kind of ‘vibe’ that most regular people watching the videos are alien to. However, no one talks about their unchecked and consequently harmful influence on the lives of teenagers and young adults. This is one of the reasons why Makez Rikweda’s short, Fat Girl (2023), is a perfectly timed call for help.

Carly (played by India Lillie Davies) is a social media influencer whose aim is to preach about the best kind of lives that one can live – her bio literally says ‘Live your best life, y’all!” She is no different from the ten thousand other influencers you may be encountering during your social media scroll on a daily basis. However, Carly is THE social media influencer our protagonist, Lexi (played by Stella Stevens), fixates upon.

From following her Get Ready With Me (GRWM)/makeup tutorials to watching her videos at school, Addison appears to be almost wishful about living Carly’s life. One of the ways in which she probably thinks she can get closer to living her favorite influencer’s life is by getting lip surgery, one that Carly too got and has a series of videos on. After all, as Carly preaches, one must be living one’s life to the fullest.

Therefore, we see Lexi – a school kid in her teenage years, not hailed as the prettiest girl in class and unpopular in school – attempt a DIY surgery. What are the consequences of Lexi’s bold action? Rikweda leaves us to ponder upon the possible side effects of this surgery, almost making it feel like the ending of a superbly thought-out horror movie rooted in modern realities.

Fat Girl (2023) Short Film Review
A still from Fat Girl (2023)

Rikweda plays around with various kinds of mirrors and screens in this 15-minute short, almost assigning these objects to play the role of the protagonist alongside Lexi. Of course, mirrors reflect what is in front of them in all its morality (good or bad), while screens of technological gadgets are meant to display, especially because we are talking about social media here, the glamorous ideal.

When we first meet Lexi, she is standing in front of a bathroom mirror as her phone, playing one of Carly’s videos, is poised against the sink. There is a fantastic shot that blends together the two human figures in the same stage of the makeup process. Lexi’s efforts are commendable but barely as neat as Carly’s. A little later, Lexi holds up the screen of her phone to check out her reflection in the canteen at lunch.

We see her recording herself and feeling a crashing wave of reality hit her about her body image when she scrutinizes her video on her cell phone screen. Finally, she is back in front of the mirror during the film’s final shot. But this time, she has actively made an effort to alter her real identity with respect to the ideal one that she’d love to see on her cell phone screen.

The dried blood that stains the sink in the final shot is a testament to the extent to which one will go in today’s world to metamorphose one’s image just to make it fit the impossible beauty standards set by social media influencers. It is, after all, the screen (capturing our photos and videos) that matters more than the reality check of the mirrors. The short also lightly touches upon bulimia, a kind of eating disorder in which people eat excessively.

Kudos to a contemporary filmmaker who has the guts to hold up this disorder and point toward the lack of self-esteem and abject self-hatred caused by social media influencers as its possible trigger. Fat Girl (2023) is a short film you should watch at the earliest opportunity. You can also call it a better-made horror movie than most of the latest releases because of the portrayal of the haunting reality of social media influencing.

Read More: Visualization (2022) Short Film Review: A Moody and Experimental Glimpse into the Mind of an Artist

Fat Girl (2023) Links: IMDb
The Cast of Fat Girl (2023): Carla Colado, India Lillie Davies, Connie Jenkins-Greig
Fat Girl (2023) Genre: Drama, Runtime: 15m

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