I went to see a body image themed play the other night. It was a great reminder for me to pull myself out of my own little bubble when I’m constantly raging against a bigger toxic bubble.
Kate Huffman is a creator/writer/actress and she has a dark comedy one-woman-show called I’M TOO FAT FOR THIS SHOW.
Recently I met Kate when we were on the same panel at a screening for a brilliant documentary, Fattitude.
I’ll be honest. When I met her my first thought was, “She’s not fat, why did she describe herself like this for her show??”.
My second thought: “Check yourself Dellany. Her show doesn’t come across as anything ill-disposed or fat-shaming. Hollywood does this to ALL women. XX-chromosome-persons are made to think they’re taking up too much room no matter what size they are. Plus, in general every woman in our toxic diet culture goes through body-conscious issues at some point in her life – so her show probably has legit points.”
And… It did!
I really enjoyed Kate’s quick-witted entertaining show for the VERY reason that it DOES speak to women and men of ALL shapes and sizes. It was informative, funny, serious and at times sad; where I felt small punches in my gut in relating to the raw moments in Kate’s show for the millions upon millions of other people across the size/shape spectrum, who have also been affected by body image dysmorphia, and eating & mental disorders.
After I saw the play, I had a lot of food for thought (pun intended) about how we as a society all view each other and how our shallow nature has created a great divide between human beings truly connecting with one another.
Plus- size peeps vs straight size peeps.
Sigh. This ^ is actually a thing.
Within the body positivity movement there has been a bit of a “size war” where some women who are considered “straight size” have been using this movement and related hashtags for nothing more than to push their instagram careers with (mainly) scantily clad images of themselves in order to gain more likes, followers and sponsors. The plus-size community understandably has called BS on this.
It reminds me of the #BlackLivesMatter movement where there are certain groups of people who are very insistent on always saying that “All Lives Matter”. While yes, this is true, all lives most certainly DO matter – but that’s not the issue. The privilege white people experience (often unconsciously) – even with having very difficult lives themselves – is that their lives are not made MORE difficult BECAUSE of the color of their skin.
In the plus-size vs straight-size world, where virtually all women #AndMenToo have endured some sort of self-inflicted body hatred/shame in their lives, the privilege that thin people experience when they walk outside into the public is that they will not be judged or discriminated against because they’re thin. Which begs the next question: How does this filter out into the film/tv world?
When you see a character in film/tv you’ll rarely ever see a role where a woman larger than about a size 8/10 is cast in anything other than a self-deprecating one; while on the thinner side of the coin, you’ll rarely see a role where a thin woman is cast that doesn’t have her confined under a male gaze. Movies, television and magazines ram it down our throats that good bodies are thin bodies and that bad bodies are fat bodies. Or that you should have to choose to be one or the other. Like Laura Linney’s character in “The Big C” once said to Gabourey Sidibe: “You can either be fat and jolly or a skinny bitch”.
Seeing these storylines and images on a constant basis will inherently put women up against each other in a competitive manner, where they’ve been made to feel as if there aren’t that many opportunities out there for them, so they should settle for the scraps they’re given – the scraps being the butt of a joke or the shiny sparkly object with no substance. C’mon girl gang!, we all know the reality is that there is plenty for everyone!
If there could finally be a shift in how certain people are cast, then this could help the real world see that anybody can set out to be anyone they want to be. We have to break through these ridiculous stereotypes. Art meets real life all the time and there would be actual progress if women weren’t made to feel their only value is their outside appearance.
In the TV show This Is Us (spoiler alerts!) the character Kate (played by Chrissy Metz) is in an Overeaters Anonymous Group. Everyone in the group is overweight or obese except one young woman. Her name is Madison. She is thin and by also being white, young and blonde – she is also very attractive (by society’s standards). She has no place in an OA meeting, right?! Kate shows her annoyance and is rude to Madison multiple times and one can’t help but notice how ironic it is that Kate is showing discrimination against someone based on their outside appearance. Without giving too much away (SPOILER ALERT!), Kate eventually learns that Madison does have an eating disorder and that just because they look different doesn’t mean they aren’t relatable in how they view their bodies and self-worth.
Thus, it is especially crucial for us body-image-advocates to be more body-inclusive to all body types and sizes. We get so caught up in our own big girl world that we tend to forget that everyone is going through similar experiences. Yes, we are a marginalized group but this doesn’t mean that we should marginalize others because they don’t look like us. The sooner all of us can come together to support each other, lift one another up, and allow our life experiences to bring us together – the quicker we can understand we are ALL worthy of self-love and self-acceptance.
We all need to know this (say it with me!):
Our outside appearance does not define who we are as a person. Let’s stop giving it so much power on how we live our lives and let’s all go after our goals together!
About I’m Too Fat for This Show and Kate Huffman:
Kate Huffman is an actor/writer whose award-winning solo show I’m Too Fat for This Show has been seen in cities across the US and around the world. Dubbed “one of the most commanding solo shows around today,” this shockingly hilarious, brutally honest show covers her experience with decades of OCD and eating disorders. Through 18 characters, multi-media effects, and gut-busting humor, it defies preconceived notions about these topics and connects performer and audience in the mutually experienced dilemma that is LIFE.
Kate performs improv and sketch comedy at Upright Citizen’s Brigade (UCB), iO West, and Second City. She has appeared in San Francisco Sketch Fest, Austin’s Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, Los Angeles’s Funny Women Festival, the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Comedy Central Stages, and countless other venues and festivals. Her work in film, TV, and theatre has won her an LA Weekly Theatre Award, an Encore Producers’ Award, a Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle nom, a Soaring Solo nom, and a Valley Theatre Award nom.
The sharing of her story has been an amazing journey, and she’s endlessly grateful for the opportunity to be of service through art. She takes a lot of prescription pills, but her heart’s in the right place!