“Last Night Someone Called Me Fat” 6 years later…
A couple of days ago, my friend Patti Loach posted a blog I wrote 6 years ago called, “Last Night Someone Called Me Fat”.
I wrote it on March 20th, 2010.
Almost exactly 6 whole years ago today…give or take a few days, of course..I KNOW!
When I read it, I was a bit surprised to realize how much forward movement I have experienced in my life during the last 6 years…professionally and spiritually. Sharron of 6 years ago dreamed of the moments I am living now…creating, developing, and touring my cabarets all around the world. The World, Sharron! Working on awesome TV shows, teaching young people, traveling to work, and living in Stratford. Collaborating with amazing artists.
And doing it all in a shell that I cherish…I never knew that I would be able to be one with the body I am in…I never even DREAMED of that…because it never seemed like an option…and that blog…of March 20th was the first step.
I have so many awesome gifts in this life…and all of them appreciated in a body that I spend every day in 100%. I dress this body in fun clothes, fancy underwear, high heel shoes, beautiful jewelry, pretty scarves, tight dresses…I like to feel like I am being creative in the clothes I pick to wear out into the world and onto the stage…hoping they show how much I strive to be myself…and to be fine with it…to be better than fine with it.
Over the last 6 years that blog was read by over 5000 people…and commented on by hundreds. Maybe not big numbers in today’s social media world…but it was the first inkling that I was NOT alone in this search for self acceptance. And I have written many things on the subject since…BUT this blog brought me back to the world at large…how people feel like they can talk about people who are big…or how they feel that people who are big are “less than”…funnily enough.
Earlier this week I wrote on Facebook about people telling you, “Oh my god, you look so thin in that!” to compliment you…I said the following….
“Sometimes, I think people don’t get that my aim is NOT to look thin in something…but to look and feel good. There is a very big difference. Telling someone they look thin in something is not really a compliment.”
And…it is not. It was funny when that thought came to me…like some of the amazing discoveries I have made in the last 6 years…it floored me a bit. It was then a reckoning that I ever thought it was appropriate for anyone to say this to anyone. You see…when someone says this to you they expect that you will smile…be happy and say “THANK YOU” and then be so grateful that they validated you and a piece of clothing. Like they are bestowing a gift upon you.
“What if I am who I am…in this body…and that is fine?”
“Love the shell you are in.”
“I was looking at the cover of the Oprah Magazine as I waited to buy my Buckley’s cough medicine (will this shit ever end) and it was the aforementioned Oprah sitting on piles of clothes with the phrase “Clean out your closets for a whole new you” underneath…and I was struck. One would think after all the journeying (inside and outside herself) she has done…all of the self help gurus she has met and interviewed…that the phrase “whole new you” would really be seen for what it is…a banishment of who you are right now…discounting the awesome being you have been and are everyday. Some might not agree…but who we wish to be is still a version of who we are…better or worse.
A “whole new you” is a myth used to sell magazines, (here comes the emails and messages) weight loss products, hair dye and many other products. Not that I am against any of those things…and I had always loved Oprah…but…I have to say…her latest endeavours have been a bit of a disappointment on a spiritual level. (God, this cough medicine is too much for a gal). I don’t think realizing new truths negates the past you. I believe “whole new you” is a future that never quite comes…a goal that is never enough. The “past you” managed to get you this far, which is in itself a miracle.”
These are ideas and thoughts that I have written about in the last couple of years…and they have garnered very large responses…and it has been like a breath of fresh air for me. Oxygen I have been starving for for over 40 years.
Over 40 years, people. GROSS!!
What I would like to address today, on the almost anniversary of a horrible yet life changing day and experience, is the negative back lash that can happen when a gal has an life changing experience.
I got a lot of emails telling me that I was perpetuating messages of ill health…that I was delusional…a lot of negative things that made me laugh, made me mad and made me write more…and wear shorter skirts…
But it took me back to two specific experiences in my life…both were very the same…and effected me deeply.
1. I was on tour with a big show…it was my first few days on tour and I was in a hotel pool with two other female cast members…people I just met. One of the girls, a SUPER talented singer, who also happened to be naturally round told me that she and the other girl were just finishing their third week of a workout regime that was near about killing her. The other girl was naturally thin and lanky…and as the rounder girl and I chatted… she got closer and closer. I told the beautiful rounder girl that I wished her well on her work out regime, and I also told her she looked great the way she was. She said she was not sure she would get work until she was thin…I said, “Well, you are working now…”…and the other girl came into the conversation and said, “She needs to lose weight…she knows it.”
2. I was doing an industrial show with a bunch of people I knew from school who I had not seen in a while. There was a super kind and talented (again naturally round) girl who was painfully thin. She and I sat down to talk and she told me that she had been quite ill…in the hospital…but the upswing was she was finally at her goal weight. She was serious. I said that I thought she always looked great…and her best friend (AGAIN a naturally coltish girl) who had been (AGAIN) lurking around the out skirts of the conversation quickly said, “She needed to lose the weight”.
Both conversations ended at that point…but I wish I had the balls back then to say, “Why?”, to not let that be the end of the conversation. Because you know WHAT? There is room for everyone…there is work for everyone…you can stay who you are and still be creative, loved, cast, hired, celebrated and valid. Dare I say you SHOULD stay who you are. Because life is too short. It is too fucking short people.
Life is also too short to let other people judge you by their standards. We need to find our own fucking standards.
I wish all the people happiness, health and joy…and the strength to be you…because LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO BE ANYONE ELSE!!
Last Night Someone Called Me Fat
Last night someone called me fat.
And not even in English.
It has been my life long struggle. My weight. Once someone who was sitting right beside me…who is a good friend… called me the “Luther Vandros of Canadian Musical Theatre”…to which I forced the expected gut laugh.
Yes, I laughed at it…because I was embarrassed.
Shouldn’t I seem as if I am fine about it…strong and empowered by it?
But, believe me people, to me, my weight is not a laughing matter…it is something I agonize over on a daily basis. EVERY fucking DAY!
Everything I eat, everything that I wear, circles around where my very sensitive form is at that day.
And yes, it seems more sensitive than others…it does…you can all think what you want about my choices but when I sit beside a 5 foot gal who mows down a steak dinner with a beer and she tells me that her appetite is like this all the time…I know that my body is sensitive.
I joke that I was born to carry milk and farm…that, basically, I was born with the genes of a peasant…this is my latest “funny’ quip about the battle that has raged within me my whole life.
I have never wanted it to define who I am.
So, I don’t usually talk about it.
But I picked a business where it is a central focus.
Being big is obvious.
Sometimes you can’t tell when your friend is a crack head…and crack can make you thin…so maybe you have given your crackhead pal a compliment on their recent weight loss.
Who knows how they lost it…they look great…size wise anyhow.
Yes, that is harsh…but that will tell you where I am at today.
Many times I have lost weight just to avoid the snap decisions that the world makes even before you open your mouth…they see you standing there and make assumptions…she is jolly, she is funny, she eats too much, she can take me telling her all of these things…she is an object to be judged simply by her size.
And I am angry that I have lost weight for that reason…but I am not going to lie to you… it was great to level the playing field, even for a while.
The oddest thing I experience at the edge of a large weight loss is that it never seems enough. I don’t know where to stop…
As I have lost weight a number of times I do my best to not listen or confront the opinions and voices that come my way…but it is a futile battle sometimes…equal to the final war scene in that movie “300”.
Here are the comments and here are my standard responses.
“You look so much better.” Than what exactly? A dog, a tree, a couch.
“You have lost a ton.” I didn’t know that I had weighed a metric tonne.
“We were all hoping you would lose the weight” Did you and Canada have a talk about my pants size? I am flattered.
You know how I always know that I have gained a bit too much weight?
In conversations when people are talking about bigger humans someone is just about to say fat…they even get the “f” out if their mouths…and they say overweight, large sized or, my person fave, hefty…like the garbage bag.
I know I have “become socially acceptably thin” when FAT comes back into a conversation.
The above mentioned scale is more trustworthy than any scale or pair of “skinny’ jeans.
Oh god. Why.
Why do I care so much…and why do you?
I feel embarrassed that one of the only things that has made me feel better about my struggle is…Oprah.
She has it all…money, fame, power…and she STILL goes up and down. I have even thought “Uh oh, there she goes.”…I know..I am also quite guilty of the judgement. But the fact that she has ALL of those things and battles anyway gives me a small degree of comfort.
But then there is the horrible Kirsty Alley story…she has become an American car wreck.
And she is doing her VERY best to spin it…but it is horrible to watch. For me anyway.
The public cannot get enough.
The world gives you one chance at salvation.
Like a movie or a good book.
You get one chance to make yourself over…to kick the habit…to not be something the world disdains…but GOD help you if you take another drink or gain back that weight.
Shouldn’t they have learned the first time?
Back to Oprah.
I was listening to Portia DeRossi talk about her anorexia. This was about 5 years ago, before the recent Ellen and Portia interview on Oprah.
She was making some awesome observations and then said something like “Well, look at Oprah, she has everything a person can want but all I see is a yo yo dieter….”
That froze me…really…this woman has done so MANY amazing things…and THAT is what you see?
I have been big, I have been small…I hope to be smaller again…but I want it not to be at the cost of…well, of….my big self.
Do you know what I mean?
I have been on a diet for about 35 years and I am pretty pooped out.
But…but I try again…I try not to be embarrassed at dinners when I order a salad…to not think that people shit and think “Uh oh, here she goes.”
So, I am in the middle of another little war…
And I am in the middle of one of the biggest things I have ever done in my life.
I know I am not Oprah, but I think I have done some pretty cool things.
And I think that the “World Domination Tour 2010” is one of the coolest.
I have worked hard to get where I am…wherever that may be…I have put in a ton (not a metric tonne) of hours.
And now to yesterday.
March 19th 2010
Yesterday I went to a commercial audition and tried not to feel fat…and came off alright…struggled with thoughts that my agent might not be sending me out as much because I am bigger.
Came home and sent emails to NY and Scotland…realized I had met all of my goals for this date…a date I had on my calendar…Mar 19th…deadline for Edinburgh Fringe Early Registration…I had a venue and had raised enough funds to put a down payment on it, register for the fringe AND buy an ad in the program. And contacted people about a PR person for my NY dates.
I taught commercial pop performance (one of my biggest passions) and watched young people make great discoveries and do hard work and I felt so blessed.
Some of the students I taught previously came in to audition for my big fund raising benefit…I am featuring up and comers who I have worked with…they did some great stuff and humbled me, making me feel grateful to be a part of their journey.
I sat and ate (every bite in watched meticulously but enjoyed thoroughly) with dear friends and laughed.
I went to meet my husband after his show…as I walked into Betty’s a gentlemen who I didn’t know very well, but who I had welcomed into my home said something loudly in Serbian.
I don’t know it you know…but I DON’T speak serbian…or english very well sometimes for that matter…and just moved on.
I order a green tea…not a wine or beer….and this Serbian gentleman saddled over to me and started engaging me in conversation.
I know I had a smile on my face…I was enjoying myself…then he said….
“When I met you I heard you were a singer…and looking at you I thought she has the warmth and size to be a singer…you know rounder…a bigger woman…stronger….(then here I started to hear a screaming sound in my head and my heart started to beat faster so I misses a couple words so you get the gist)…so I yelled “(something in serbian that I AGAIN didn’t understand)”…you know, it means…”It isn’t over till the fat lady sings”….’
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
Again…my whole day…which was mostly fabulous…reduced to this.
And, instead of getting mad, which I am happy to do when someone says something horrible and rude to me…I am ashamed to say…I got embarrassed.
I said it was fine.
I went to see my friend who was across the way.
And then I went to the bathroom and cried.
Why did I not call him out?
I went home, quickly, and got into the bath….till 4:00 am.
All of these great things and this one asshole felt confident that he could reduce me to one common, rude phrase.
I went over and over it again in my head.
There is nothing funny about it and nothing I want to crack wise about it.
I have not gotten over it yet and I am sure I will carry it through my day.
And please don’t feel bad for me…let me wage my war of weight peacefully as I can…and see me…and know that deep inside I totally dig myself…I just have my moments.
And I just wanted to publicly say…
Fuck you, you small, small man.
Don’t you know who I think I am.