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INDEPENDENT LENS: All Of Me: A Story Of Love, Loss And Last Resorts

Airs Monday, December 15, 2014 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: The "Girls"

“The Girls” have been friends, and fat, for years. Their bond goes deep and wide, literally and figuratively. Smart, complex, warm and compelling, the Girls met through the Austin chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance and partied together among Austin’s Big Beautiful Women community. Meanwhile, they tried every diet and every pill.

But now, getting older and facing more health and mobility challenges, they’re choosing to have the gastric band or gastric bypass weight-loss surgery. The experience presents a host of issues and consequences — some they expected, some they feared, and some they never could have imagined. Produced and directed by Alexandra Lescaze, "All Of Me" premiered on INDEPENDENT LENS, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday, March 24, 2014 on PBS.

Courtesy of The Page House

Joni and Dawn

Courtesy of INDEPENDENT LENS

Judy & Marty's wedding day

Courtesy of INDEPENDENT LENS

Zsalynn

RESOURCES

Visit the film's website for a list of resources including books, blogs and helpful organizations.

CONNECT

"All Of Me" is on Facebook, Pinterest, and you can follow @allofmemovie on Twitter.

The Girls have varied post-op experiences but one reality is true for all of them: having surgery means the loss of their primary coping strategy (eating), and the experience of shedding — or trying to shed — hundreds of pounds changes everything. Their health, their self-images, their marriages, and friendships are all at stake.

Although "All Of Me" focuses on just one group of women, their story is not unique; more than 90 million Americans are obese. Our society’s diet and exercise talking points do not compute for those who have hundreds of pounds to lose. 200,000 people a year are choosing weight-loss surgery and 80 percent of them are women.

The film focuses on the journeys of three of the Girls: the strong-willed Judy, who is determined to succeed; Dawn, who had an early career as the fat model and calendar girl “Bridget,” and is struggling with both her weight and her identity; and the heaviest of the Girls, Zsalynn, who, at over 500 pounds, is trying to save enough money for surgery, out of desperation and for her young daughter’s sake.

Through the stories of these unforgettable women, "All Of Me" shines light on our attitudes, misunderstandings, and prejudices about obesity — its causes, challenges, and the intense psychological struggle so many have with food that no surgery or diet can cure.

The Girls’ journeys of self-discovery are fascinating and inspiring, and, as in life, there are heartbreaks and unexpected consequences along the way. The Girls take us through their food addiction and emotional eating with a searing honesty.

For a group that is so often vilified, joked about, or ignored, "All Of Me" provides a much-needed platform for their stories and encourages viewers to take a fresh look at our own prejudices and complicated relationships with food, fat, and our bodies.

Past episodes of INDEPENDENT LENS are available for online viewing. INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter.

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Independent Lens: All Of Me Trailer

Above: The “Girls” have been friends — and morbidly obese — for years. They met via the Austin chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, but now they’re going through the life-changing process of weight-loss surgery in an effort to lose hundreds of pounds. The experience presents a host of issues and consequences — some they knew they were in for, some they feared and some they never could have imagined. A film by Alexandra Lescaze.

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Independent Lens: All Of Me: Jacki's Excess Skin

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Independent Lens: All Of Me: Support Group

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Independent Lens: All Of Me: HeavyWeight Yoga