My Perspective Watching “Shrill” as a Skinny/Not-Skinny Person

Wendy Cohan
6 min readSep 2
Photo by Petter Lagson on Unsplash

First, I’m late to the party, as “Shrill,” a series starring Aidy Bryant, premiered in 2019. Second, what I mean by skinny/not-skinny person is that a) I used to be skinny, and b) now I’m not. I’m not morbidly obese, but I’m twenty-five pounds above the upper limit of my USDA recommended weight for my height (which is kind of on the generous side, anyway). I’m also two dress sizes and two pants sizes above my historical adult average. And no one would call me skinny.

Watching “Shrill,” I’m learning a lot about the way our culture views fat people, and I am embarrassed for our country. Having moved all around our diverse nation, mostly while an “acceptable” weight, I’m aware of significant regional differences in what people consider optimal weight. New York Chic is the polar opposite of Southwestern standards of womanly curves — and I’m a lot closer to womanly curves than New York Chic. I’m also pretty out of shape due to a post-covid lingering respiratory illness that will not quit, despite my coffee-table full of supplements, native herbal remedies prepared by a fifth generation New Mexican, and my latest tincture, helpfully labeled “Get Over It.” And I really wish my new curves were on my ass and not my stomach, but we can’t all have whatever we want.

I have a long, sad history of believing I wasn’t thin enough, mostly because I was constantly told that I wasn’t thin enough by my unhelpful ex-husband. (Actually, it’s extremely helpful to me that he’s my ex.) But when I look back at photos from that time in my life, I was not fat. Not even a little bit. So, I wasted a lot of years thinking I was fat, when I wasn’t — and I bet I’m not alone.

But now, I am significantly bigger, and despite a lot of attempts to lose weight, I have been unsuccessful. Pre-covid, at least I carried my weight more kindly than I do now. People may criticize or shame me for calling myself fat — but I am a tall, small-boned, meant-to-be-thin, ectomorph with a lot of adipose tissue that spills over the waistband of every pair of jeans I wear. I do not carry my excess weight well. Today, I weigh, conservatively, SIXTY pounds more than I did when I graduated from high school.

I was also one of those women who gained very little during my pregnancies, and lost all of it…

Wendy Cohan

Author of character-driven women's fiction, short stories, and essays. Her contemporary romance, The Renaissance Sisters, debuted May 23, 2023.