"A documentary film by Faith Pennick"
What do a psychologist, a forensic biologist, a paediatric nurse, and a full time student have in common? The ability to breathe under water and dance with turtles but not without lots of hard work and possibly a few tears.
Weightless is a 39 minute film that opens with a plus size woman face down in a body of water smiling into the camera looking up at her. It is quickly followed by the voice over, "I just love being in the water... it was the whole weightless thing." Any plus size woman who has ventured into a pool knows very well the advantages of being submerged in water.
Liz Nickels lives in Oakland California where she works as a clinical psychologist. At the onset she is packing for a trip to Maui to go scuba diving with a group of women. Liz shares a bit of her background: She was born with a hole in her heart and went on her first diet when she was nine. She threw away her scale in her 20s. She always wanted to scuba dive but kept putting it off because of the image in her head that it was a hobby that skinny rich people participated in. She eventually got over the fallacy and attained her advanced open water diving card and then she became a certified rescue diver, a dive master and an open water scuba instructor. When she was at a conference for big people she talked so fondly about her under water experiences that it inspired others to follow her on her expeditions and eventually her business "Big Adventures" was born.
Weightless follows Liz and three other plus size women (Kris, Donna, Quinette and Liz's friend Nicole who is also a diving instructor) to Maui where she takes them through a few days of on land training, on shore instruction, and then a day out in the open water. All the women come from varied backgrounds and are what the medical society would describe as "obese" or "morbidly obese". We get a sneak peek into their current life situations and their struggles with their weight and society's view of their weight.
Weightless puts a realistic face on the experience of scuba diving for plus size women. Diving is described as a male dominated sport so for a woman, let alone a heavy woman, to venture into the deep is more than a bit daunting. But these women do it with their heads held high and a smile on their faces. Because of their size there are some issues with gear both in fit and dealing with extra weights and balance. Viewers see firsthand the emotional excitement and the defeat of trying to learn a new sport with a plus size body. I like how this documentary does not sugar coat the viewer into believing that anyone can do it with no problems. It is NOT for everyone but size is not a reason not to TRY.
I was so excited to see the women (all over 35) do their open water dive. It brought tears to my eyes. The underwater photography was lovely and the on land photography was smooth, bright and clear with excellent sound quality throughout.
The ultimate message of Weightless is plus size women should not wait until they lose weight to do what they want to do. They should not let fear or someone's opinion dictate their limitations.
I would have liked to have seen more underwater footage of the women diving and exploring as it felt like it was cut short. We are told equipment rentals are expensive but we do not learn how much. I would have also liked to have learned the basic gear they needed and a little more about the accommodations that must be made for plus size frames. There was some confusion with the subtitles too, some people were labelled in the beginning and a few people who appeared earlier were not labelled to later. Also there was no introduction for Rachel and Nicole like there was for the other ladies so I was left wondering about them.
Overall I enjoyed this film and would recommend it. You can watch clips from the documentary and purchase it for $25 from Organized Chaos Mediaworks, Inc.
Disclosure: A DVD of Weightless was provided to me free of charge to review.