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Booking Weight

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148. That is the number of pounds on my 5’3″ frame that was weighed in on my last doctor visit. I peaked over the nurse’s shoulder and saw this glaring red BMI of 26.2. When she left, I googled the ideal BMI for my size which is 18 to 24. 25 and higher puts me in the overweight category. My “booking” weight is 130-135lbs.

I have struggled with weight all my life. I had a round belly as a kid but by the time I was tween, I was anorexic because being curvy in dance class was unacceptable and the popular girls I wanted to hang with were already on diets. I would take a marker and mark all the parts of my body that were ugly and fat. I had a goal what to change and did check ins with a measuring tape to make sure I saw my progress. At 12.

I know, it’s so hard to believe that happened a few decades ago but guess what: girls are still upheld to the same beauty standards.

Skinny is still considered “pretty”. Wearing a size 8 is considered  “fat”.

So what is healthy? More importantly, what is healthy for YOU?

When I started in this business, I rocked a dancer’s body with 4 hours of training every day. At my physical peek (whatever that means) I was wearing whatever I wanted and going up against models during callbacks. But I still felt fat and not pretty enough. That little girl with the measuring tape was still judging me but found better ways to keep in check, making sure I could still see my hipbones stick out.  I can look at pictures of myself during that time and see such a insecure person screaming for help.

Life in New York got hard and I stared to gain weight. It was at a healthy weight of 130lbs that I started to book professional work. It was also about the time I started to accept my body for what is was instead of what it was not. But this was not the last time I struggled with my body being curvier than those rock hard sexy and sassy Latinas.

Something I have noticed in this industry is that a lot of people are going to tell you what you are not. I listened with the perspective of what I lacked rather than what I bring to the table. Yes, I had confidence in my craft but the broken little girl inside had no confidence with her outer shell no matter how slim and trim I got.

Trust me, you get told how you don’t fit in because of the way you look a hundred times, you would feel uncomfortable in your own skin too.

Well, I am fucking over it. Truth. It’s taken a few years but I just don’t give a flying fuck about negative and down right mean feedback based on this outdated beauty standard that I could give a rats ass about what certain buyers want to change about me. Great, move along for those amazing people who do see me as a viable commodity because I look like most people in the world. I have stolen self positive ways from dozens of dynamic and beautiful women of all shapes and sizes that I love places on my body I used to loathe. I got great legs, an adorable behind and an incredible rack.

These curves have a gorgeous and intricate story to tell. Many stories, in fact. Bonnie Gillespie gave me the most beautiful piece of gold when my manager told me I was too fat for LA : “You are just a different type and people want that”. I remembered those words every time I walked in rooms with traditionally beautiful women. I started to book work once I let go of what my outside wasn’t and really embraced what I got. Sure, I want lose a few pounds now but this time it’s for healthy reason, not because I think it will help me act better. My booking weight is the weight of commitment to the role, to the pounds of energy it takes to make a really awesome character.

Ladies, why do we still allow the typical beauty standard to be OK?  Why do our consumer dollars mainly go more towards quick fix diets, the latest workout trend or Spanx instead of better education for our little girls or female driven content? I will be the first to raise my hand to having several pairs of Spanx and saying yes to being hired to do three transformational before and after workout programs for commercials because I thought that feeling good meant being skinny.  But where do we find the balance?  What about all those wonderful ladies that are fit that don’t look like the cover of a weight loss ad? We can thank the campaigns from Dove and Sports Illustrated for making the body issue more about real world bodies, but having a few ads about this is just the tip of the iceberg.  We as a community need to campaign for it in what we watch, where we spend our money and how we speak about it.

So my call to action for you: stop the body shaming of yourself. Go to the mirror and look at all the places you love. Do whatever you have to do to really make the skin you are in a place of comfort and peace. Of course, keep yourself healthy in the ways that make sense to you but change only because you want to. Your gooey confidence will be contagious that people will want to be around it, they will relish in how good you make them feel because it oozes off of you. THAT is beautiful. I will do the same.

Tanya Perez

About Tanya Perez

Tanya Perez is an actress, writer & activist currently living in NYC. Notable TV and film credits include Orange Is the New Black, Jessica Jones, Blue Bloods, Madam Secretary & Hal Hartley's Ned Rifle opposite Parker Posey. Her most notable stage appearances were in Seattle Rep's production of Anna in the Tropics, Sonia Flew at both CATF and Laguna Playhouse, and her sold-out solo show at the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Comedy content creation has brought her web series Itty P & DJ Model-T nominations for two StayTuned TV-ITVF awards for Best Comedy and Best Actress in a Comedy, her comedy short, Peep Show, was an official selection at the 2018 Women in Comedy HBO Insider Competition, her short, Veronica, is up for 6 award nominations for the 2018 Story Mode Shorts Festival, winning Best Actress and will be premiering at Cannes 2018. She has received an Audioverse Award nomination in writing in Cocotazo’s CAT festival. Not only that, she is also incredibly talented with balloons, laughs inappropriately during movies, and loves her four-legged roommate Tia Tortilla. Proud member of NYWIF, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, SAGAFTRA & Actors Equity.