Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And a Noble Try it is!

My partner is also a fat actor. He is the most delightful man on the planet and I could not be more proud to have such a mensch by my side. He has written several monologues about being a fat woman under the guise of me, and, bless his heart...he has penned yet another:

"Callin' All Fat Bitches,

Now I know the last two words are taboo in society but I'm here to fight for these words and the true representation of their meaning. I am Fat there is nothing wrong with me I am content the mere reasoning that someone else has a problem with who I am is Nazism. And they can go fuck themselves obviously they aren't content enough with themselves and feel the need to extend their self hatred to others. My only other suggestion to them besides the afore mentioned is to open their veins and take a warm bath. Now for the second word, Bitches, this an interesting word for any of you etymologists out there because it has been used by a variety of different people mainly to denigrate those of my gender merely, there I go using that word again, because we women have stood up for something that wasn't popular. Well now I'm calling you all to stand up and use the title with pride because you are fighting for something that questions those in charge. Stand up and be noticed trumpet our cause from every mountain top. If they want to label us then let that label be our fight song for soon they will realize we are great in number and not just in size and we will be herd!

In Omnibus Corpulent,

Your Fat Bitch Queen"

He's learning! :-D And quite possibly deserves a Baby-favored Donut Tee-shirt.


Monday, June 16, 2008

This Chowhound got a Callback!

I don't believe I informed y'all, but that big movie I auditioned for? I was asked for a callback. I found that out last week amid much squee-age, and I felt great because the audition went REALLY well--sometimes an audition feels excellent and there's no dice, and sometimes you wonder HOW you pulled something off. It's just wacky like that. Anyway, this time, we were synched! Awesome!

I just had my callback today, for that role of the 16-year old shameful fatty. As I was not only meeting with one casting director but *2*, AND with the actual director of the film, I wanted to center myself and sorta get in the zone. I used my excess time beforehand in a health food smoothie place that made me feel a slight visceral twinge of self-awareness, since everyone in there equated their health nut zealousness with the absence of fat. But I was still 'neath my cloak of "Fuck It."

What can I do? Surely I can't browse Shapely Prose--that will only make me feel more at peace with myself. I decided to give myself a large helping of Sanity Watchers points and googled "Fat + disgusting + gross." I got a bunch of sites telling us how ugly we are and what a blight we are on society...and I was trying so hard to get upset and shameful about it, but I just couldn't. I have so *positively* brainwashed myself that even Maddox cannot make me feel unattractive!

As I'm an actor anyway, it really didn't matter how *I* was feeling. I translated the problems of fatties everywhere (and problems I had only until a year or so ago, if that) onto poor Chowhound. The casting team responded REALLY well. And now, we let this go. If it happens, it happens--if it doesn't, I still made a damn good impression as the fantastic fat girl.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

There is No Spoon! (But there might be a sundae)

I feel like educating women about the reality of sizeism and beauty is like the matrix.

We have all been brought up so WARPED regarding what is and what is not beautiful in this world. For someone who then conforms to it to hear it ripped apart? Not so easy. I think it might even be easier for us fatties, because we're essentially brought up being told that we WEREN'T beautiful.

A little backtracking: I went through high school wearing some make-up. Probably not as much as other girls, but I did make sure to wear mascara every day, because I'm blond--and when it's not on, I don't have eyelashes. For a while, I thought it was just great to put mascara on...until I had to remove it at night. I remember looking at my face in the mirror and thinking, "Oh my God, where did my eyes go? I look so terrible!" That little nagging voice got progressively louder through the 4 years, and I became very uncomfortable putting make-up on in the first place. I dreaded how I'd feel after the high of feeling glamorous and sexy.

So, when I started college, I just gave it up. I've been blessed with a pretty good complexion, so make-up wasn't about neutralizing for me--it was about enhancing. And I stopped! Without much of an issue.

My roommate and close friend is. A. KNOCKOUT. She is the one that passes hordes of men and they ALL turn to stare. She is exotic, beautiful, confident, and a complete and utter mensch. I love her with every cell in my body. That first year of college, I realized that she spent at least an hour every day getting ready by doing her hair and putting on makeup.

"Andrea," I said, "What in the world are you doing that for? You look incredible!"

Of course, cue her eye rolls and countless criticisms to herself in the mirror. This woman TRULY does not see herself fit to leave the house unless she's painted. No joke. (And she looks better without.)

"But Dre!" I say, "Don't you understand that you're just told that you need makeup to look pretty as a convention created to subjugate women in this horrendous society that treats us as though we're just playtoys to sit and look pretty and impress and pick up men you look fabulous completely naturally shirk off the cloak of chauvinism and declare your womanhood!"

*cue glassy stare*

She was kinda speechless for a moment, and I could have SWORN that something reached her, but the next minute she was fighting me to get back to her well-lit mirror.

My second attempt to indoctrinate someone into our ways...I feel a little better about. :)

I'm working with an adorable, adorable lady who plays opposite me in the show I'm currently working on. She is tiny and spastic, like a chipmunk, and she is sweet as pie. She mentioned sullenly to the cast the other night that she "used to be a size 14" (and I'm sure, fatties, we can all imagine the tone in her voice). Oh, if my filters had been off! Sadly, it was neither the time nor the place, and I squeezed by with what sounded like a growling cat.

Last night, little Katherine comes up to me in costume (we're in sexy pirate dresses, and we are ALL knockouts, FTW) and she says, "Does this make me look....ah.....bigger? Wider?" (I have a feeling she was dancing around it because I'm the only fatty in the cast, holding at about a 16/18)
As the words of Kate and The Rotund and Joy were about to shriek forth from my lungs, something said HOLD IT! This is your chance to not overwhelm her and maybe lead her in!

So I said, "No, Katherine, you don't look bigger. You do look fantastic."
She replied, "I just feel like...I don't know. I've put on a lot of weight recently. I just don't understand it."

Choosing my words carefully, I tested the waters.
"Well...I think you look great. And if your body's putting on weight, there's probably a very good reason for it. Our bodies are smarter than we realize, ya know?"

"Yeah," she said, "You're right."

Wait, someone acknowledged that?! That there might be a GOOD reason to gain weight?!?!? EUREKA!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was thrilled with her openness and non fat-hatred, and continued, saying, "You know, just treat your body respectfully and don't worry about it. You look wonderful, and there's no reason to change anything about what you're doing."

She looked genuinely pleased, and I was THRILLED. I long to, day after day, accost people and say SHATTER YOUR PERCEPTIONS! But I know they're not ready for that. There is no spoon, know what I mean? What have your experiences been opening friends to the epiphany that is FA & HAES?

By the way, I first began my metamorphosis towards FA after a 4-month-long crash diet. It was called "EAT TO LIVE," and I know there are already some people who have done this one. It's basically a raw foods diet, with just fruit and veg. In that vein, it was really excellent--but being deprived of everything else was restricting and depressing--for real. After 2 months and my boyfriend having said that I wasn't the same, I googled veganism + depression. Lo and behold, hit after hit surfaced linking the two due to low animal-derived B vitamins. I gradually worked animal foods back into my diet.

Amazingly, I'd only lost 20 pounds after ***4 months*** of eating like a bunny, essentially. I was confused and upset and cranky. After getting off the diet for my mental health, the weight came back (and then some), and fast. I began to feel like, if THAT couldn't even change my body, then it was becoming pretty friggin' clear that I was MEANT TO BE FAT. I had been since childhood, I was even when eating kale and doing high-octane, hour-long workouts per day, and I still was when I wasn't doing all that.

I mulled that idea over for a couple years, and it made me a bit more comfy in my own skin. I found this haven of a community in December, maybe, after having seen Ms. Nash's "Fat Rant" on YouTube and pointing and screaming, "YES! Other people actually feel this way?!" Visiting her site took me to the Fatosphere, and, well, you know.

Anyway, that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. ;)


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Black or White, and its part in Showbiz

Yesterday there was a very moving piece at Jiggly Bits, and Chrissy shared with the FA community her fears of being alone as a fat woman. LOADS of people reached out to her to empathize and strengthen her, promising that there is someone somewhere! Many of us have found him or her after a very long time of looking and being alone. The best part is--it comes when you least expect it, and have your mind on it the least. Which brings us to the first goal--of loving yourself and your life enough to enjoy it tremendously, even without a mate.

At any rate! Chrissy's heard all that. There was a lady who posted named Mari, who is a dark black woman. She commented that most FA ladies are white (which seems to be true), and also commented on how much MORE difficult it is to be fat and black, especially when it seems that even black men would prefer fat white women to them.

In reality: Mari is ab-so-lute-ly RIGHT. And as a white fat woman, I don't have the experience of having yet a third stigma (race) against me in this world. I can't pretend to know, either--but I can commit to being there for the racial diversity that's shown in this movement, and for seeing beyond color to give them as much of an even keel as is possible. Colors aside, we fatties are here for each other and supportive no matter what.

What this brings me to (oy, I'm really all over the place!), is the REALITY vs. ENTERTAINMENT. I had commented back to Mari that there is some discrepancy between how she lives the status of a black fat woman and how they are portrayed (vs. fat white women) in movies, TV, etc.

Most fat black women in entertainment display one or many of the following qualities: strength, maternal power, 'sassiness,' attitude, support, a hefty diet of soul food and home cooking,intimidation, street-smarts, funkiness, female empowerment, 'fabulousness.' This includes your run-of-the-mill fat black women and your two staples, Mo'Nique and Queen Latifah.

In my opinion (as a white person), this is a direct contrast to fat white woman (and not just pleasantly plump like Mrs. Weasley, I mean fatter): these women are almost always portrayed as ugly, unwanted, with little to no self-confidence, eternally dieting OR gorging on junk, not having any romantic prospects, being slow or lazy, and being in the way of society as opposed to part of it. There are maybe 2 exceptions to these- Camryn Manheim and Kathy Bates (and she spent the first half of "Fried Green Tomatos" being that exact description).

So what's the problem? It perpetrates major stereotypes, on both ends. Mari had mentioned the main fat black woman in entertainment to be like an Aunt Jemima or Mammy. I was thinking, "No! Of course not, that's----ohmygod, she's right." The only difference is that today's fat black women on the small and silver screens aren't subservient to white people. In fact, you had better fucking watch your back, or they'll take you down right here right now! Is that any better of a stereotype?! No! Who wants to be with a woman like this? Who wants to work with a woman who caustically grunts, "Mmmmmm HMM," as customers pass by?

While it may, at first, seem like fat black women in roles have it easier than fat white women, the self-assured profile is a double-edged sword: it STILL portrays these women as unpleasant to be around, pains in the ass, abusive or nasty to husbands, rough with their kids, smothering, etc.

The New York Times did an article nearly two years ago that I just found, that's just absolutely prolific on the matter: An Image Popular in Films Raises some Eyebrows in Ads.

As a semi-inside source, I can sadly say that it's not changing anytime soon. Each casting that I see for heavy/heavyset/overweight/voluptuous/etc. African-American women asks for (essentially) someone fat, sassy, with a lot of attitude and who doesn't take nothing from nobody.
And, yes, the same goes for the white folk--as you can see, that description has still not changed, re: the character I auditioned for the other day.

What are your views and experiences with these caricatures of our people?


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

'Shameless Chowhound'

Like the Shameless Chowhound that I am...I rocked today!

I've been temping for a while, so I giddily flew out of the office at 10:30 this morning, positively BEAMING, having spent far too much time deciding what I should wear for this. Thus is the problem of looking 15--how do I dress like a 15-year-old while still showing professionalism?

The casting director was made of sunshine. No joke. She was so incredibly sweet, patient, and gave direction--which is always a big 'plus' in the actor's book. She was also notably fat-friendly, which I was very pleased with! She was discussing the character and the other BBW in the script, and how they're appreciated for their beautiful curves. Hmm, I thought. This is going far too well.

Luckily, that's where it ended! There was no 'oh crap' moment. She had me read ALL the scenes, several times, gave me lots of direction, looked really happy when I'd nailed it, and asked me lots of questions. If it wouldn't be too stalker-y of me, I'd send her a flippin' fruit basket.

As a predominantly theatre actor, if I get this job....it will be a ridiculously amazing leap for me.



Monday, June 2, 2008

The Big Question

I am at somewhat of a crossroads.

I freelance with an agent that just got me a huuuuge audition for tomorrow.

It's a feature film starring Andy Garcia, and there's a role in there for a 'chubby teenager' who's down on herself. Her parents put her on terrible diets, and she's miserable. When she's pursued by a character who I assume is a 'chubby chaser,' he brings her out of her shell and she actually begins to feel beautiful just the way she is.

Great, right? The message is excellent and pretty in-line with FA measures.

Here's the bad part--

I have a feeling it's not totally executed the right way. What really turned me off was the casting breakdown, which describes the character's metamorphosis as such:

"Invited over to Denise's house to eat like the shameless chowhound she really is, Cheryl soon
finds herself a regular visitor to Denise's groaning kitchen table...1 speech & 12 lines, 6 scenes (7)"

Um...WHAT? Did you seriously just call a fat chick a SHAMELESS CHOWHOUND?

Boy howdy, I am *really* hoping that's just their "sense of humor," because someone's asking for it with that shit.

Also, not really FA and HAES--Cheryl is on a diet of, like, lentils and okra, and she is asked by this boy to come eat pizza and doughnuts (baby-flavored, no doubt) and all sorts of 'junk food'. Why do they assume she'd WANT to eat only 'unhealthy' foods? Oh, yes, because she's fat.

And so here, we have our discrepancy. I sincerely doubt I'd be mistreated or disrespected as an actor, but it really boils my blood to see how they would insult a character in a freakin' BREAKDOWN, for chrissakes.

In the best of worlds, WHEN I get this role and become unionized and have my Hollywood debut, I can always crow the good side of the writing--that the text blatantly calls Cheryl beautiful, without trying to change who she is. People love her anyway, and she now loves herself. I can just add on all my extra proselytizing of HAES.

We'll see how this all goes--that's my next hurdle...


FA can has Backstabbrz?

So, a full report on the previously mentioned MTV SHOW: 'MODEL MAKER.'

MTV 'MODEL MAKER' | MTV | -Multiple Locations- | Reality TV & Documentary
Details | Locations | Contact
Casting Notice Description:

MTV is casting Model Maker, a new boot camp-style reality show for girls who dream about being a model but whose weight stops them from reaching their dream. Shooting approx. three months (dates TBA).

Seeking—Female Contestants: 18-25, 5'6"+, willing to shed 30 to 100 pounds to become a healthy, self-confident, high profile fashion model, with great attitude, pretty face, and the endurance to sweat off the weight.

Auditions will be held May 17, 2-5 p.m. at Torrid Store, Palisades Center, 1000 Palisades Center Dr ., W. Nyack, NY and May 18, 2-5 p.m. at Torrid Store, Cherry Hill Mall, 2000 Rte. 38, Cherry Hill, NJ. To submit online, email model@realtalentcasting.com; include your name, age, contact info, height and weight, and a brief bio about yourself and why you want to be a model. Attach a current photo, and include your audition state in the subject of your email. For more info and to view audition info in other cities, visit www.modelmakercasting.com. Winner receives $100,000 and a possible modeling contract.

Where shall we begin with how offensive this is?! Oh, right, I know--how about with the fact that Torrid is hosting the bloody thing?

Immediately after receiving this in my breakdowns, I sent an e-mail with this text the Shapely Prose team, as well as Paul at BigFatBlog, letting them know what horrors had come about. I also sent a rather scathing letter to the figureheads at Torrid:


I cannot for the life of me imagine why you are sponsoring the new MTV 'show' "Model Maker." As a very forward-thinking business that has encouraged women and girls of size to be happy with their bodies and be able to feel beautiful and sexy (even in this incredibly fat-hatred society), that you would then FUND new American tripe that says, "Sure you'll be pretty, once you're 30-100lbs thinner," is DISGUSTING.

Are you aware that the psychological pressures put on young women through media, society and their peers, all telling them YOUR BODY IS NOT OKAY are ridiculously more harmful to anyone's health than cellulite or a fat belly?

This hatred, fueled by people who have claimed that it would be okay to even put fat people in modern day concentration camps (http://www.bigfatblog.com/node/22), is so incredibly destructive to women that it turns them from troubled children with body image trauma to WOMEN with body image trauma, and guess who they then pass their baggage onto? That's right--their daughters, who don't yet know how horrendously prejudiced and patriarchal this society is.

Fat people are told they are not allowed to exist EVERY DAY, in very blatant ways. In every ad that neglects to show a woman with a little meat on her bones, in every diet program that exists, in the glares that people give you for daring to share this earth with them, and most CERTAINLY in this fucking excuse for a television show, "Model Maker."

YOU ARE *TORRID.* Does that mean nothing to you? You are one of the only VISIBLE companies that has been proud to serve the fat-female community, especially with non-matronly clothing.

And this is certainly not about health. Size is not an indicator of health, much as pharmaceutical companies would have you believe otherwise. Health does not equal thin, and fat does not equal unhealthy. ( http://kateharding.net/but-dont-you-realize-fat-is-unhealthy/)

I am appalled at this promotional move of your company, and I have already begun to inform the figureheads of the Fat Acceptance movement about this backstabbing role you've taken as a company. I implore you, if you have any decency, to please involve yourselves in something much more body positive--like Lifetime's "How To Look Good Naked."


I was smoothly replied-to with this:

Hi Jen,

Thanks for your email. I'm sorry that you feel we have let you down. We did think this over for a long time before agreeing to let MTV cast their show at Torrid locations. Just to be clear, we are not a sponsor of the show. We are not supporting the show financially in any way, either. MTV came to us because they believe that we have many beautiful plus size customers in our stores and they are right.

For the first 3 months of the year we featured The Glamazons in all of our windows and in national ads in 17 and Glamour magazines. Not one of them is smaller than a size 18 and we loved showing the world how great confident women with real curves can look. In our windows now are photographs of our 2007 Model Search Winners....all young girls with curvy bodies and big smiles. We have consistently promoted healthy body image through our association with American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, High School Musical's Kaycee Stroh, and plus size supermodel Joanne Borgella. We will soon be featuring model turned author Mia Tyler, a very full size 16, who is releasing a new book called Finding Myself which chronicles her path to self acceptance. Likewise we will be hosting noted blogger Stephanie Klein in our stores for book signings of her new book, Moose, A Memoir of Fat Camp during June and July. Later in the summer we will once again launch our now famous Torrid Model Search. All of our customers are not the same and we work very hard to serve up a broad spectrum of fashion and special events throughout the year.

I appreciate your insights into how society treats plus sized women. We live it every day in every Torrid store. I get email every single day from customers thanking Torrid for giving them the chance to feel good about themselves. I have an adolescent daughter and I totally understand what you are saying. We get it and we do more than any other retail company in the world to advocate for plus size customers. As much as I appreciate your passion because we share it, I might suggest that you focus some of that energy on cosmetic companies, car companies, the food industry, the entertainment industry, and other companies that spend zillions on advertising and rarely use a model larger than a size 6, as if bigger women don't have real lives.

Of all the emails we get from customers the number one inquiry by far (other than requests for more Torrid locations) is from young women who want to know how to become a model for Torrid. Each summer we have over 3000 of our own customers show up for our model search. Likewise the MTV "Made" episode featuring a young woman from Ohio who had a dream of becoming a plus model for Torrid had incredible response from our customers and in fact introduced many new customers to the world of Torrid. Clearly the world of modeling is of great interest to many Torrid customers.

We support all of our customers whether you are happy as you are or dream about making changes in your life. I stand 100% behind our customer service and how we welcome guests to our store feel every single day. Our core philosophy is, and remains, that any size can be beautiful. Model Maker is a show about health, fitness, and beauty....all of which are important to a lot of our customers. There is nothing unhealthy about eating better and working out. The show is not about starving the contestants down to a size 2. I am very sorry that you are offended and I hope you will still feel comfortable shopping with us. We stand behind you and your dreams, too!

Have a nice weekend,

Chris Daniel

President, Torrid

Though I didn't realize at first--and FJ and I were both impressed that the president would respond--a little digging taught me that this was a mass e-mail, sent to all the righteous fatties who had serious issues with Torrid's support on this mess.

Though Mr. Daniel says that they're not financially supporting Model Maker in any way, they kind of are, aren't they? They're the ones providing MTV with little lambs off to the slaughter, tubby teenagers just dying to shed some pounds to be 'real models.' Dear lord, what is with these people?! Of COURSE all you receive are letters of girls who want to model--that is what this ridiculous society tells girls they should do. Look pretty and pose and not smile and cock their hips. Most Torrid customers are on the younger side, and most young girls have dreamt of modeling. I bet these girls will also get over it like yesterday's breakfast, and realize that modeling is for a very, very small number of people.

Secondly, his little blurb about concentrating on other industries? No. Because, if you represent fat people and you STILL oppress them, how will mainstream industries ever take us seriously? YOU set the standard to how the fat demographic is treated. On top of this, you are officially now representing the entertainment industry--you have models, you have print ads, and you now are affiliated with MTV and their joke of a reality show.

Has anyone attended or seen this? I made myself very unavailable to the malls that day--I don't have enough Aleve to get me through that crap!


Fat Acting in a Thin World

First Post! This is the one everyone sweats over, since it's your first impression on the community. I'm a total over-analyzing worrier, so I'll just lay it all out for ya.

I've been a lurking member of the Fat Acceptance community (The Fatosphere) for quite some time now. I've gone by different names and posted a few times, always reading, never contributing, always wondering--well, what on earth could I contribute that would be worthwhile? After the fat-bulous Joy Nash (also an actress) utilized YouTube for her legendary "Fat Rant," what would be my step? Joy has used "Fat Rant" as not only an entryway for her talent, but also for her socio-political message. What if, I thought, I used my career as not only monitor for fat issues in the entertainment industry, but (hopefully) as a beacon someday to be a voice for FA in the public eye?

After seeing red when I discovered that MTV was creating a 'modelizing' show for fat girls (which centered on weight loss--"anywhere from 30-100 lbs.!"), it became pretty clear what I needed to do.

I'm proud to be a newly productive member of FA, and I hope this not only keeps the Fatosphere abreast of fat news in entertainment, but also gives a much needed support to fat actors and actresses everywhere.