It has been gaining a lot of backlash due to its homophobia, fat-shaming, sexual assault and more, and now, leading lady Shannon Purser has spoken out about it.
“I think it is absolutely fair to criticize what Sierra does because what she is doing is wrong,” Shannon told Clevver. “I was really interested in exploring this flawed character, like, what motivates her to act in this way? What insecurities are people who do this dealing with? And also exploring, is there room for growth? Is there redemption for people who do things like this? So, it has been interesting to see how some people are very vehemently sure that she should not be forgiven, that she should not have a second chance, whereas others are resonating with her.”
Shannon explains how Sierra isn't meant to be liked throughout the entire movie...
“It’s interesting because I think a lot of the confusion is coming from the fact that Sierra maybe is being marketed as sort of a fluffy, teen rom-com when, in reality, there are a lot of underlying issues,” Shannon said. “I think there is romance, but it’s also a commentary on Internet culture and the way that society pressures young women to compete against each other and conform to a certain ideal. [High schoolers say] insensitive things. Or speak without really thinking about the ramifications of their actions. I think there is definitely a reckoning for Sierra at the end, where she realizes all of the evil that she saw in the world around her is now coming from her, and she has to deal with that.”
“I would like to explore Sierra as a more healthy and morally good person,” she says. “I would like to see her continue on her journey of self-growth and self-acceptance and for all of these characters to learn from their mistakes and move forward as better people.”
The movie is still a big step forward for Hollywood inclusivity, having a plus-size woman as the lead role, and Shannon is very excited to be part of that.
“Ever since there has been a standard for what beauty is, you know, that means that somebody is left out,” she said. “And for a very long time, being plus-size meant that you were not beautiful, and I just know how damaging that was to me and to my self-image growing up, and I really hope that I can even be a small part of a change that makes that different for young girls especially.”