Fitting In: Toxic Normalcy

For any teen, fitting in usually feels like the most important thing in the world. But, learning to accept yourself for who you are is even more vital.

In Fitting In, Lindy (Maddie Ziegler) is a 16-year-old who is ready to become sexually active. But, after a visit to the doctor, she discovers that she’s got MRKH Syndrome, a reproductive condition that upends her plans. As she deals with the shock with her loving (but, at times, overbearing) mother (Emily Hampshire), she must also come to grips with her presumptions about womanhood and herself.

Written and directed by Molly McGlynn, Fitting In is fueled with fire and funny. Backed by a strong script by McGlynn, Fitting is as earnest as it is funny as it attempts to lean into the toxicity of normal. By openly talking about those who are intersexual, Fitting In steps into the realm of ‘taboo’ topics with heart and humour. Moving and genuinely funny, McGlynn has opened the door for loving conversation for a generation that are still trying to find themselves in a shifting world.

In short, Fitting In is something genuinely special.

But what really makes this film fit is its cast, especially from strong work by Hampshire and Ziegler. As Lindy, Ziegler feels genuine as a teen trapped between womanhood and youth. As Lindy begins to take the ‘next steps’, Ziegler plays her character with authenticity and honesty. This isn’t a story that requires broad comedic strokes. Instead, its conversations around sexuality and identity require sensitivity and care. In these moments, Ziegler truly connects with Lindy’s soul, showing vulnerability in an insensitive world. 

At the same time, Hampshire leans into the fearfulness of parenting a teen. For Rita, her daughter’s pain is something out of her league. Through some truly wonderful chemistry with Ziegler, Hampshire’s Rita tries to relate but is also terrified that her teen will miss out on a ‘normal life’.

And normalcy is key to Fitting In.

In fact, Lindy’s journey creates a conversation about the toxicity of normalcy. Fitting In understands the pressure placed upon this generation, especially sexually. For Lindy, to be held back sexually is to feel incomplete. Under pressures by her friends to be sexually active, Lindy simply wants to be like everyone else. As she attempts to physically ‘fix’ her body, Lindy’s real battle seems to be the expectations of a world that wants her to fit in. (In this way, the film’s title becomes its own play on words by asking Lindy to adapt both physically and socially.) 

But Fitting In recognizes that normalcy isn’t always a healthy concept. Here, the belief that everyone’s life should be ‘the same’ seems to breaks down the joy when we differ. For example, as Lindy deals with the implications of MRKH, Fitting In handles her situation with grace and love. While we’re allowed to mourn with her, the film never looks at her through eyes of pity. Regardless of her sexual situation, her story (and body) matter. She matters. For McGlynn, the moments where we find out who you are is a beautiful thing and she finds joy in the struggles.

Fitting In is available in theatres on Friday, February 2nd, 2024.

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