As a movie, no doubt about it, Ang Taba Ko Kasi, was entertaining to watch. It was finally time, Cai Cortez and Ryan Yllana, two talents often typecast as supporting characters to get their break. But what really got me was how it was able to capture what it feels like to be a fat person in the country. Being a fat person myself, it was nice that a film finally validated my experiences. Experiences that other people may dismiss or find laughable, but rung painfully true to someone like me. So here's a rundown of things I noticed that the film touched on about being fat:
*SPOILER ALERT: I may end up giving away the plot of the whole movie*
1. We use the mirror the same way other people use it
In the film: One recurring bit in the movie was how Olga (Cai Cortez) would often look at herself in the mirror while making faces or playing with her fats.
I just had to call this out because it was interesting for me to see how the people in the audience spontaneously reacted to these scenes. Some laughed, while others cringed; like they were seeing something obscene on screen. I shit you not, I even heard a guy exclaim "ang bastos!".
I don't know why so much people would react that way to a mundane scene like this. Is it because Filipino audiences aren't used to seeing fat characters doing anything else aside from eating or being the comic relief? There was nothing wrong with Olga staring at her body. Have you guys tried playing with your fats??? It's awesome, you should try it.
2. Fat people are sexual beings too
In the film: Benjie (Ryan Yllana) masturbated to a bikini picture of a model. A little later on in the movie, our two fat protagonists, have casual sex.
Again, I was surprised by how the people in the audience reacted. Well, this is more understandable since sex is still a controversial topic when seen on screen. Though I can't help but feel that people tolerate sex done by fitter bodies more compared to two unfit bodies. The movie was just showing another truth that we don't often see on local or even foreign screens that much (the only other movie or show that I remember with two fat people having casual sex is Mike & Molly).
3. We have a love-hate relationship with food
In the film: Olga and Benjie, would refrain from eating a lot when in front of other people but would often binge when they're alone or together.
To a fat person trying to be fit, food is that friend of yours that you're ashamed to be associated with. You try to avoid it when you're in the company of other people but you run to it when you want to be comforted. Especially when you have an irrational mindset of thinking that everyone is out to judge your looks. Remember that ate serbidora may judge you but a two-piece fried porkchop meal from Buddy's won't.
4. Your family, may unwittingly be part of the problem
In the film: Olga has a cook for a father who encourages her to eat, a mother who likes to sugarcoat her obesity and a younger brother who needs a stern talking about insensitivity and comparing people to pigs.
Olga's family predicament is surprisingly common in the Philippines since eating plays a strong social role in our culture. If cooking is a manifestation of one's affection, then eating heartily is an acceptance of this affection. Therefore, restraining one's self from eating can be considered as rejection. I'm pretty sure most of us have had that experience of a lola that you can't say no to because you know she'll get hurt if you say no to her invitation of seconds or thirds. Lolas are masters of emotional blackmail I tell you.
5. Having anxiety from THINKING that your fatness is ALWAYS the reason for being socially rejected
In the film: Olga fears that she was rejected by her swimming instructor, Noah (Mark Neumann), because she's fat. After a night of partying, Benjie quietly leaves the bar after realizing that he was the only one from his group who didn't hook up with anyone because he's fat.
This is true and I honestly believe that this is an unfair and an unhealthy way of thinking. Unfair because you're making a sweeping generalization that everyone can never look past your physical appearance. To some people, physical appearance may be a priority, but what about the other people who value intelligence, personality and interests?Unhealthy, because you're heavily determining your worth on your appearance. You're unconsciously boxing yourself to be a caricature fat person.
Good thing the film was encouraging about this predicament. Benjie was accepted by his ex-girlfriend Candy (Carla Humphries) saying that putting weight didn't change how she saw him. Utterly surprised, Noah confessed that he liked Olga for reasons beyond her weigh (he liked Olga for being "intelligent, feisty and passionate").
6. To really work, getting fit needs a strong and intrinsic motivation
In the film: It wasn't clear what triggered Olga's desire to shape up. I presume she wanted to be more physically desirable. She ended up always compensating her workouts and diets with binge eating that changes nothing.
It's no secret getting fit is difficult to do. Take it from a guy who had numerous attempts throughout the years to get fit. My best attempt was shedding 20 lbs in six months but eventually gaining 30 lbs because of stress eating. Just like Olga, my reasons that time were more extrinsic; I wanted to be physically desirable. But when you're 130 lbs far from your ideal weight, being "physically desirable" may not be enough to motivate you.
Two years after, I'm determined more than ever to get fit. So far it's looking great, I've already lost 20lbs in three months. The difference I guess from my last attempt was that I honestly want, more than anything else, to be healthier. For me right now, being physically attractive is the least of my concerns. Right now, I worry more about the probability of me taking maintenance meds by my late 30s. Or not being alive to enjoy the perks of a 20% discount by age 60.
Getting healthy requires a conscious and active desire towards self-improvement, and social validation may not be enough.
Other Notes From The Film:
- Patani for being one of the few Survivor alums left getting consistent TV/movie projects
- Carla Humphries! I haven't seen her for quite a while since her Qpids days and their Call Me Maybe music parody with the other It Girls.
- Indie Money Shot: The shot of Olga's slipper in the fish sinigang her dad made. A metaphor for her fight against food and her dad's suffocating kindness.
- I'm not sure when Olga became "smart, feisty and passionate" in front of Noah. I think I saw these more when she was with Benjie.