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Fat Girl on Stage

July 15, 2008

So I am so excited about the new Zaftig Thespian blog. Welcome to the fatosphere!

I am excited because I too am a card carrying Thespian. Although I have not done theater since college. Sadly, one of the main things that has kept me out of theater professionally, and amaturely is my weight (and height.)

When I was in High School I was the Queen of Musicals. From my sophmore year on I had a major role in all of our musical performances. (Our Drama teacher at the time was big on seniority so a sophomore with a singing role was almost unheard of.) My Major roles were Lady Thiang in The King and I, and Bloody Mary in South Pacific. I sang in all of the choirs, I was in the St. Louis Symphony Children’s Choir (until I got kicked out on tour, which is a hilarious story for another time.) I took voice lessons. I was into music, and preforming.

I always knew that I wouldn’t go on to do shows or sing professionally, because I was fat. My parents insisted I get a practical major in college because I would never “make it.” The implication that I wouldn’t “make it” because of my fat was not lost on me.

It’s not that I regret my decision to become a nerd, but I do regret that that decision was made for such superficial reasons. I know now that ultimately I do not have what it takes to be a professional artist. I don’t have the thick skin, the work ethic, the never say die attitude that one really needs to make it. (Which is obviously why I caved to my parents so easily.) I may not even really have the voice or the talent.

So why did it have to be about my weight?

It’s really hard to figure out if the reasons I get overlooked in auditions is because I’m not good enough, or because of how I look. I am planning to audition for an amature production of Pirates of Penzance in a few weeks, and it is hard to shut up that voice in my head that says “They’ll never cast you, you’re too fat, you’re too tall. You don’t fit any of the roles.” I haven’t been practicing nearly as much as I should and the peice I picked is really hard, so more likely I wont get cast because I am just not that good.

I’ll likely never really know.

But I love to sing, so I’m going to keep singing for myself even if no one will ever pay me to do it.

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6 Comments
  1. I am an artist as well — not a thespian, a photographer, but I understand your plight about gaining the confidence to think you are good enough. Have you ever read “The Artist’s Way”? That book changed my life, specifically in how it gets you to build up your confidence in yourself as an artist, to believe that you really do have talent and creativity, and that is just blocked (which can then be unblocked to let your creativity flow freely). It might sound hoaky here, but I swear, it truly did change my life (I am now a working artist where before, I was just girl who liked photography but never believed I could truly do it myself).

    In terms of your fear of rejection at the auditions based on your size, I say go for it anyway. Acknowledge and face the fear, and like you said, sing because you love it, and that joy will probably show through.

    Good luck! 🙂

  2. Wow. I too am a card carrying Thespian and had the exact same high school experience. I am also in love with the Zaftig Thespian blog. You could have pulled this post out of my brain, it’s so crazy-similar to my experiences!!

    I’d also like to second “The Artist’s Way.” That book is amazing and changed my life in a million ways that I wasn’t expecting. Good stuff.

  3. voluptuousrobot permalink

    Interesting post — I myself was the high school musical queen with lots of juicy roles on my resume — Yente in Fiddler, and Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. I also taught myseld how to play drums and can write a mean surf/rock/punk song. I habs voice lessons, acting lessons, the whole kit and kaboodle.

    Indeed, I wanted to pursue the bright lights of the Great White Way, and have fabulous dressing rooms and lots of applause and live in New York.

    My parents also told me there was no way I would make it, I was too fat and not pretty enough and not talented enough, etc, and insisted I have a major in college that would lead to gainful employment sometime in my twenties.

    And you know what? THEY WERE RIGHT.

    I am not pretty enough, or thin enough, or good enough. Keep in mind, I am very attractive have a shapely and strong body, and love to hear myself sing in the shower or at karaoke. But when it comes to the meat grinder of the entertainment industry, they laid it out in front of me in no uncertain terms, terms that affected me negatively for years and years and years.

    This kind of cruelty, while harsh and painful and brutal, is, in my estimation, MUCH KINDER in the long run. One of my family members is trying desperately to make it New York, and you know what? She is not pretty enough, or thin enough, or good enough. But no one told her, and now all she knows how to do is voice-overs and auditions and cater. And the people she hangs out with who are also trying to make it? None of them will make it either. They are just not pretty enough or thin enough or good enough.

    Looking back, I appreciate my parents’ honesty and candor. I have learned to take blunt critisicm without buckling to it, and have come out the better person because of it. I have not dedicated years, if not decades, to a dream that is simply based on ideals that are, for 99.99999% of humanity, impossible to acheive.

    And for that liberation from chasing a ghost, I thank them.

    Should people pursue their dreams? Of course!

    Does every dream have to come true? No.

  4. jamboree permalink

    Oh, definitely go for it! I just got cast as Leila in Iolanthe, and I was terribly nervous because of my weight. I’ve got the voice, the acting, no problem. My weight on the other hand…. I’ve found that community theatre seems to be much more flexible with appearance.

    Plus, any chance to perform in G&S is worth grabbing with both hands.

  5. I’m finally getting around to commenting on your blog even though I’ve been reading it ever since I followed your link from Shapely Prose. Anyway, this one had me gobsmacked: you were a card-carrying thespian and grew up in St. Louis?! Ditto. Troupe 1109. Wow. Graduated from high school in 1995. Did you do speech and debate stuff, by any chance? I guess what I’m really asking is, do we know each other? (You weren’t one of those obnoxious Muny Kids, were you? Just kidding… some of MY BEST FRIENDS were obnoxious Muny Kids!)

    I switched from my undergrad theatre major because of all these issues. And I’ve been considering getting back into theatre after my kids are a bit older, but hesitate, for all the same issues. So thanks for the encouraging post.

  6. I was certainly NOT an obnoxious Muny kid. They were SO obnoxious.

    This one girl I knew who was like the Muny princess actually said to me “It must be nice to look like you do because that way you know guys like you for who you really are.”

    What a bitch.

    We probably don’t know eachother I graduated in 2000 from a private catholic all girls school of pain. We didn’t have official speech or debate stuff and I probably would have been to young to run into you anyway. I actually only got to be a thespian through a nearby boys school because my drama teacher didn’t want to be bothered.

    I’ll bet if we thought really hard though we’d know somebody who knew somebody we know!

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