“Image” could go one of two ways, but what it boils down to is perception. It’s either how you look at yourself, or how other people look at you. In an industry that’s so focused on selling, which one ends up being more important?
Like all my other articles, I can only speak for and of myself as an example. I’m 5′ 10”, (mumbles) pounds and 25 years old. In certain clothes, my dentist once asked me where my parents were because he thought I was 17. I have the good fortune of the face of a baby, and if you ask all of my ex-boyfriends the personality to-boot.
I underwent a pretty significant weight loss as the result of a surgery I had a little over a year and a half ago and am now back to about the weight I was at the end of high school – by the time I graduated college, my “freshman fifteen” turned into the “senior sixty” for a little bit of perspective.
I have what most would consider an average/slim figure based off of appearances – I’m by no means jacked, but not to brag I carried 5 grocery bags home by myself the other day.
With most brands, I wear a size 8 pant or dress – keep in mind again this is with very little extra body weight – and this automatically puts me into the “plus size” category. Mathematically and scientifically I fall right into the middle of the normal weight section of the BMI scale, and to show business I’m “big.” I’m no longer a person with 22 years of show business experience; I am just “big.”
Let’s talk about why that’s not ok.
I worked as a (failed) model for a number of years in Connecticut. While I would get an OK number of jobs, I also missed out on a fair number of jobs based off of my size alone. In the modeling industry, ideal is considered size 0-4 because that’s how the clothes will “hang best off the body.” Size 6 would push it, and anything size 8 and up is considered plus size which has to be labeled as its own separate industry entirely – that’s another rant for another day.
Let me make this undeniably clear: by no means am I saying even those who do have a high BMI and are above a size 8 are “fat,” what I’m saying is a high BMI does not determine or remotely impact your talent.
We should not label the success and worth of other human beings off of the size of their pants. The argument that “plus size” people are the minority and that it’s “unhealthy so we shouldn’t reward” it goes out of the window immediately – I have a 20.8 BMI and I can promise you I run just as fast to a bag of Doritos as I can down the street for my cardio (fast, I run very fast for Doritos).
One of the most imprinted memories in my mind as a 14-year-old child sitting in modeling school was an instructor scolding me in front of all of my peers.
We were told to write down everything we ate for a week to review for the following week; I got reamed out for eating both a sandwich and a salad in the same day. “Did you really need both?”
That same day he made us run laps around the yard behind the agency until one girl became nauseated and almost vomited. She kept saying she needed to stop, and he kept replying “do you want to be cast or not?” At the time, I was 5′ 9” and 120 pounds – it would have already categorized me as underweight. This was the same year I developed an eating disorder. My parents asked me how class was that day on the ride home and I stayed silent. I wanted to be cast so badly. I think they chalked it up to generic teen angst.
I think I feel so strongly about this because I’ve been trying to impart this certain phrase I’ve seen more often into my life – “be the change you want to see in the world.”
Instead of giving the cold-shoulder to a plus size person, give them the audition. You saw the role one way, they blew your mind into a completely new vision.
What the industry fails to see is while they think they’re limiting “us,” they’re limiting themselves. I’m a big believer in “you don’t know until you try.”
At this stage in the game, I have had the good fortune of enough experience to provide me with some retrospect. Yeah I have roles when I sit down – they are of the cinnamon variety and you had better believe they are covered in that generic, store brand icing. I’d rather be warm happy with carbs, my friends and not cast, than lightheaded in a cold, over-lit white room with people I don’t know and reading words I don’t believe in. I believe in these ones, though.
So even if only one person reads this: you are more than your waistline. You get one body, enjoy it. The right role and part for you is the one that loves you for who you are right now in this moment.