FITTING IN, written and directed by Molly McGlynn, is the kind of female-driven, body-positive movie I wish I had when I was a teenager. Led by the stellar Maddie Ziegler, the film is a courageous coming-of-age story that shows it’s hard to try to fit in, but it’s even harder to be yourself.

16-year-old Lindy (Ziegler) and her therapist mom (Emily Hampshire) have recently moved to a new city. Lindy is navigating a new school and her first real relationship, including the right time to take it to the next step with her boyfriend. But when she goes to the doctor for birth control and informs him that she hasn’t gotten her period yet, diagnostic testing reveals she has MRKH syndrome; Lindy’s reproductive organs were not fully formed, which negatively impacts her fertility and ability to have sex. This leaves Lindy more self-conscious about her relationship not only with her boyfriend but with everyone else in her life, leaving her to question her gender and sexual identity.

Ziegler is absolutely incredible in this multilayered role. Her fearless, empathetic performance is helping to normalize topics that for so long have been off-limits. She seamlessly navigates teenage awkwardness and angst with how scary it must be to get a life-changing medical diagnosis at such a young age.

While FITTING IN does focus on gender identity, specifically through Lindy’s MRKH syndrome diagnosis, many of its themes are universal, including being comfortable in your own skin and not looking to others for acceptance. More than that, I love that the film delicately broached personal, sensitive topics that any woman watching can relate to. For example, Lindy feeling comforted at the gynecologist by a female medical resident’s warm smile and acknowledgement.

The beginning of the film starts with a quote from Diablo Cody’s JENNIFER’S BODY, “Hell is a teenage girl.” And I think that quote can even be expanded, hell is trying to navigate what it is to be a woman in a society that is constantly creating new hurdles to complicate the female experience. But FITTING IN does a phenomenal job of addressing these issues directly and compassionately for a new generation of women.

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