“But you have such a pretty face!”
“Why would you write about being fat and being in this business? That sounds miserable.”
“If you make content for fat people, aren’t you promoting obesity?”
“You’re such a good dancer!”
These comments have been made to me in the last week alone. These are just the comments at the forefront of my brain, not all the comments that are actually made on a regular basis. Women in general get judgy comments made about their looks and bodies quite often; women who don’t meet societal body standards get comments made every. Single. Day.
I want to tackle these comments one by one in relation to the biz, so here we go:
BUT YOU HAVE SUCH A PRETTY FACE…
If you’re considered overweight or obese, you have heard this at some point in your life. The reality is, in Hollywood, unless you’re walking around with a photo-shopped-filter, your body is deemed not good enough, period.
For me, I mainly hear this in reference to: I’m doing myself a disservice in the industry being fat and pretty. It’s sadly considered an anomaly to be both. For most of my time in Los Angeles pursuing acting, I’ve been ‘encouraged’ to either gain weight or lose it. If I gain the weight, I will be seen more like Hollywood wants most fat women to be seen; ugly, depressed, poor annoying slobs. If I lose weight (and straighten my hair), I will be seen as the desirable object to help drive a man’s story forward. Ohhh joy! It sometimes feels like the only value I can bring to an industry run by the patriarchy is based upon my outside appearance; and if I play my cards right, it would be smarter for me to lose the weight, because then I will finally get more work in film/TV! But… why would I want this type of work?
WHY WOULD YOU WRITE ABOUT BEING FAT AND BEING IN THIS BUSINESS? THAT SOUNDS MISERABLE…
What sounds miserable about this exactly? Yes, I am fat by Hollywood standards, but this is exactly why I feel we should all share our experiences as we go through them and what makes them unique to us. I most definitely do not go through the same experiences that a thin, society-approved attractive actress goes through – so it’s important that I show a different point of view.
Case in point: Recently at a film festival I was at a networking event. I found out that in the circle I was speaking with, an actress (young, blonde, saucer-sized blue eyes, fair skin, thin), a white male director and I, were all three from the same home state. I enthusiastically shared this with them and instead of making this a moment where we could all connect about our roots and what eventually brought us to pursue our passions in LA, the male intentionally moved his body in a way so that I was blocked from our original open circle and turned his back on me; thereby taking a conversation that I had initiated and turned it into an intimate closed conversation between just him and her. If this was a one-off, I wouldn’t have given it much thought other than, “rude and that is SO LA”. However, too consistently, things like this that absolutely have to do with body image, male gaze and our brainwashed culture happen on the daily; and I do want to talk about them, and I want to talk about them through art, otherwise we will never see a shift in how any of us are treated or seen.
IF YOU MAKE CONTENT FOR FAT PEOPLE, AREN’T YOU PROMOTING OBESITY…?
No, I’m promoting different sized and shaped human beings who are rarely in empowering lead-roles getting to see themselves in empowering lead roles (hashtag Geena Davis). If you only want to see content for thin, good-looking, cis, white people – aren’t you promoting eugenics in some form? Wouldn’t this imply that they’re the only type of people worthy of having a story told about? All body types of people from all walks of life deserve to have their stories told because storytelling has the power to affect how a person can learn, grow, change, evolve and put themselves in someone else’s shoes, ultimately learning to have more empathy for others.
This uneducated question tells me that the person doesn’t know anything about body positivity and ultimately doesn’t care about other people who they can’t relate to. It’s hard to accept that a person can be both fat and happy, and it’s really crazy to think that there could actually be positive content made about them.
YOU’RE SUCH A GOOD DANCER…!!
I admit while this can be taken as a legit compliment (and I sincerely HEART the props), it is also one that I hear so frequently, multiple times a day sometimes, that I feel compelled to call it out. Sure, I am a good dancer, however I’m not at a professional level anymore and I’m nowhere as good as the incredible dancers who grace my classes; who have danced and toured with Madonna, Michael Jackson, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake. I think that because my body is so much bigger and noticeably different than the average size 2-4 dancer in the class, that they are truly amazed that I can turn, twist, twerk and keep up with them. At all. So showing up in class and representing a plus-size dancer, to me, is helping some of my peers see that dance is not exclusive to one body size or type; and that positive images via art truly matter if we are actually going to make great change(s).
So, here I am world: While I may not meet the standards or expectations of what most people are used to seeing on film/TV, I am doing what I can at a grassroots level to change all of that.
Like my Mama always says – pretty is as pretty does…