Let’s just take a moment to remind ourselves what year it is… 2018. Yes, it’s 2018 and there are still so many things wrong in the world. We are unfortunately never going to live in a fairytale world where everything is perfect, but surely people can work together to change things – or so you’d like to think.
Obviously body shaming is always happening and I’m very aware of how rife it is in the media. With social media storming the internet young men and women are feeling more and more pressurised to lose weight, tone up and drop a few pounds in order to be accepted into the all important “millennial” ideal.
I am all for wanting to lose weight because of your health or because you want to do it for yourself, but by no means do I support the idea of being subjected to losing weight because you have been pressurised by the media and the influencers you see on social media.
When it comes to the industry, I have read a – what I can only describe as, horrendous, article from The Stage this week, which really does echo the extent to which people are being hounded to lose weight and change their bodies.
In the article (which you can read in full here) various actors have come forward and expressed how they have been stripped and weighed at auditions. A variety of individuals have actually claimed that their agents have encouraged them to lose weight in order to obtain the parts they deserve and to give them a better chance during the casting process.
I’m sure that I’m not just speaking for myself here, but I don’t want to go see a show where everyone is a carbon copy size of each other. I want to see talent. To be quite honest, I couldn’t give a shit about people’s body shapes and sizes, as long as they absolutely nail the role they have been given to play, then that’s what I care about. Watching a show with everyone being stick thin is not a true representation of the human race. No one person is the same as another, so why are we pushing people to look a certain way?
I love to see variety on stage and in TV and film because to me, it makes everything more believable. It’s a true reflection on the way we are as a society. We are all different shapes, sizes, heights, skin colours and ethnicities and that’s what’s going to translate well to an audience. Being real.
Body shaming isn’t just damaging at any point in your career, but imagine stepping out of training and into the real world and the first casting director you meet tells you that you’re overweight and you need to lose a stone and a half before you will get any work. If that’s not going to insanely damage your career progression from the outset, then I don’t know what is!
Fortunately as these stories have come out Equity are on it and urge you to contact them immediately if you ever feel that anything in an audition or performance situation is “discriminatory, invasive, inappropriate or not relevant to the role”. Equity will then discuss the issue with the employer.
Despite some of the stories from actors being from years ago, the issue with body shaming is at a peak right now. A very dear friend of mine gained a contract through a company who I will not name that took her out to work in different country. She was going to be working as a dancer. During the rehearsal process the company openly pinpointed and body shamed various individuals on the contract and told them that they needed to lose weight as they were overweight. It’s safe to say that my friend swiftly ended that contract agreement and flew back to the UK. She wouldn’t touch that company with a barge pole now and she definitely wasn’t about to sit back and work happily for a company that treats human beings that way.
In regards to the ongoing body shaming in the media, I must draw attention to the slew of accusations against the various reality TV stars and their fitness DVDs. Poor Scarlett Moffatt (who rose to fame through the TV series Gogglebox) has recently opened up about the gruelling boot camp experience she endured in order to slim down for her weight loss DVD. Since Scarlett has put weight back on the media have gone into a frenzy over her “sham” fitness DVD. Scarlett claims that she was forced to exercise for 6 hours a day and was only given 600 calories a day to live on. She was so pressured by producers to lose weight quickly that she could have really done some serious damage to herself. At the height of her ongoing fame it was obvious that the public would want to get their hands on a fitness DVD by Scarlett after they all witnessed her rapid weight loss.
It’s horrendous that Scarlett and other stars have been coerced into losing weight in order to make money and to keep up appearances. Surely being forced to lose weight in such quick succession would make you utterly miserable. From what I’ve read, most of these stars were miserable at their lowest weight.
In our industry the pressure to look “good” is at all all time high. However, I would never let anyone pressurise me into losing weight in order for me to progress in my career. If I was medically unwell and needed to lose weight to help to get myself back to a healthy weight and ultimately save my life, then so be it – but that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.
You are the owner of your own body so make sure you take control of it.