Body Shaming Actually and the DFF

Although I don’t drink, I’m a huge fan of the Drunk Feminist Films. Obviously it’s not the alcohol and the drinking games that draw me in. What I love is consuming popular culture with which I have a love/hate relationship with a wild audience of loud, unruly feminists. And the “loud, unruly” part is really what’s fun.

Here’s the DFF self-description: “Feminists who would rather laugh than cry their way through representations of gender in Hollywood films.”


Personally, non-drinker speaking here, I think they should ditch the “drunk” talk and go with another thing that starts with D. They can’t get rid of the D entirely though since they’re now well known as DFF. DFF organizers even sell mocktail versions of all their movie themed drinks.  My favourite DFF screening is that ghastly holiday movie Love Actually. By now you probably know what’s problematic about it from a feminist perspective.

For me, from the early days, it was Love Actually’s boss/subordinate relationships that bugged me. So many of them in that film! Now I’ve got a bit of thing for Hugh Grant and I liked the Natalie/Prime Minister relationship. But the Colin Firth and Sienna Guillory romance? I thought “ew” right from the very first watch.

The “love” part of my love/hate relationship with Love Actually are the Liam Neeson and the Bill Nighy story lines.

Oh, and I also love that the porn set is the workplace in the film that’s the most respectful of consent and boundaries. The porn body double relationship is its own kind of adorable.

One of the things you do during the DFF screenings is shout out things when they happen on the screen, for example “call HR!” during inappropriate workplace relations. The one that struck me this time through was “body shaming!” and how much of it there is in the movie. What percent of the jokes are fat jokes? I don’t know. But a lot. I mean, good gravy, even Emma Thomson gets body shamed. See TBT: Love Actually Had a Ton of Awful Body Shaming Jokes: “Loved the pathos and tragedy of it all, by the way, but maybe it’s because, as she complains, the only pants she can fit into are Pavarotti’s?”

There’s also a lot of jokes about the fat manager and Aurelia’s fat, unattractive sister who can’t get a man.

What is that about?

But what I loved about the calling out “body shaming” was it allowed me notice and name the thing and move on. I can enjoy the movie without it getting under my skin.

It’s got me wondering though. How much body shaming goes on during your typical movie or TV show? How many of the jokes are fat jokes? Can’t we just call out “body shaming” whenever and where ever it occurs?

There is something really fun and liberating about just noticing and naming a thing.

Here’s more about Love Actually:

5 thoughts on “Body Shaming Actually and the DFF

  1. You don’t like the Colin Firth story line because you don’t like Colin Firth and you would say “ew” no matter what the power dynamics of that relationship, right? I’ve heard you say he’s like a grown up teddy bear (and not in a good way). I mean, if you can get behind the Prime Minister and the clerk, then surely you can get behind a writer and a housekeeper? I’m still generally a fan of Love, Actually even if it’s got so much going on that I haven’t yet “named.” I’m doing a lower key version of it with my running crew — a DFF without the “D”. 🙂

  2. No, the Colin Firth story bugs me because he’s a rich man who falls in love with his housecleaner and hasn’t understood a word she’s said. He also uses a typewriter.

    I think I’m charmed by the Hugh Grant story b/c Hugh Grant, truthfully. Less charmed now when I think about poor Natalie getting moved b/c her boss found her attractive.

  3. Thanks for the roundup of LA links. I have tried to watch this movie before but it never sat right with me, so I’ve never lasted more than 20 minutes. The other writers better articulated why I just… don’t think this is a good movie.

  4. Interesting article! Love Actually is one of my favourite Christmas movies. I was recently writing My top 3 Christmas movies post and i found all these articles that made me see the movie in a different way. A part of me still loves this film though, just like I love Oceans 11 even though it fails the bechdel test…

    My post
    can be found here, if you’re interested

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