“You look like Mama Cass…” F**K.
I had the best day yesterday…till about 6:00pm.
In the very early morning I drove to TO from Stratford (about 2 hrs) and did an audition for a really fun and interesting character in a U.S. TV show…always joyful and heartening when you are a 48 year old, redheaded, big girl…to be honest, always joyful in general.
Then I went to Ryerson University with my pal Steve Thomas to perform a 25 minute set for my dear friend John Austin’s Student Affairs Team Summit. The set was about confidence, positivity, dealing with mental health challenges and celebrating who you are every day. It is a set that I have done a number of times now…I love doing it…and I love looking out at the audience and seeing their VERY high level of engagement in this story. There is a part of the set where I talk about how I had a 24 year long love affair with a picture of myself in a bikini from when I was 23 and how the realization that this obsession with being thin was ruining my life. SIDEBAR: The wonderful people at Ryerson were a stellar audience…who then burned up the internet with gratitude about the set. : ) Which included songs by CHEAP TRICK, JOURNEY, GAVIN DEGRAW, U2, TORONTO and RICK SPRINGFIELD. Right!?!?
I was so happy about a well played day.
I stopped in Etobicoke, after dropping Steve off, to have some dinner before making the drive back and ran into a gentleman that I know in passing with a friend of his who I don’t know at all. This gentleman is a nice guy. I have spent some time with him in the past and have had a few laughs…which for me, is always time well spent.
I was dressed like this yesterday…incidentally, it is one of my fave outfits…
This gentleman hugged me.
He then looked me up and down and told me, with a smile on his face, that I looked like Mama Cass.
One of the funny things here is that since I have done so much work with myself on my body positivity…I work hard every day…it actually bounced off of me. It didn’t cut me in half like shitty comments used to. I looked at the source and I took it all in like a mathematician and said, “Well, I cannot think of anyone off the top of my head who would think that was a compliment.”
I said, “You might wanna think about what you said…” and I turned to his friend who, AGAIN, I didn’t know…who was a young gentleman…and said, “I know you don’t know who that is…but you might wanna google it…and see why it makes me say what I just said…”
Gentleman #2 looks uncomfortable…Gentleman #1 says, “Oh…she understands me…she gets it…” and laughs while he rubs my shoulder…which makes my stomach turn.
He is trying to make himself and his friend feel better…for saying something shitty to me.
And when I got back in the car I was torn.
I was really torn….
Because I think Mama Cass is beautiful…BUT the way he was wielding Mama Cass’s name was not steeped in that belief. It is not a compliment to most.
AND THAT is part of the problem.
I realized a couple of years ago that if we don’t hold up different shaped, hued, and built people as beautiful NO one ever will…it COULD and SHOULD be a compliment…THIS is Mama Cass.
BUT it isn’t a compliment to most. And it wasn’t yesterday.
And I really think that acceptance and celebration of a beauty like Mama Cass would tear down what the whole western world thinks of as beautiful.
Last year, someone told me that I was like “Canada’s Melissa McCarthy”…and then added quickly, “After the first weight loss…”…like this person had ANY right to bring the size of my form into a conversation of any kind…and as a qualifier for a “compliment”.
A number of years ago, in a review for a musical in which I sang the whole time…I didn’t speak at all…there was not a stitch of comedy really…and the reviewer compared me to Rosie O’Donnell…who, as far as I know…has never performed in a sung through musical.
And I am still torn now BUT I was not either of those times…because I KNEW that the first (Melissa McCarthy comment) was spoken by someone who touts skinniness above all and who doesn’t see Melissa as beautiful…and the second (Rosie O’Donnell comment) was a dig at me…was a shot at bringing me down.
Now, again, Melissa McCarthy is beautiful…she truly is.
But do we compare every thinner actress to Jennifer Aniston? Do we call every thin actress, “Canada’s Jennifer Lawrence”?
Every funny thin comedian to Kristen Wigg?
THIS is for many reasons…but mostly? Because we need more examples of beautiful people of all shapes and sizes in our culture…on out TV sets…in magazines…on stage.
A few years ago I remember feel a bit embarrassed that I submitted myself for a part in a musical that had NEVER been cast by a larger sized woman…I wrote a long letter to an AD about why I was the right choice and why my weight should not matter. BUT today? I would just sent out a letter and tell them why I was a great choice…and I would not even talk about my weight. Because is does not matter.
It does not matter.
Melissa McCarthy is beautiful.
Rosie O’Donnell is beautiful.
And Mama Cass is beautiful.
The more we take a real moment everyday and open our mind to all kinds of beautiful the more we break down and put out of business huge industries that make their money off of a version of beauty that is created in advertising, marketing and promotions departments…the more we show heads of networks, theatre companies, magazines, and any other business I can’t think of…who try to dictate what is beautiful based on their small, small, ideas FOR the dinosaurs they are.
The time and energy that we spend on worrying about these things is simply saddening. The years and brain power I have wasted on worrying about what someone else thought of me…if I was “normal” sized…could have been used to write…to sing…to create…to be.
You can tell me I look like Mama Cass…and one day…maybe it will make me smile…and one day we will move on to other ideas…and one day we maybe won’t have to qualify the way a person looks at all.
Sharron is touring her NEW show “Sharron Matthews NAKED”
STRATFORD, ON, CANADA on October 24th at REVEL Caffe (get tickets at REVEL CAFFE, 37 Market Place in Stratford)
NEW YORK CITY, NY, USA on October 28th at 54 Below get tickets HERE>>>> https://54below.com/artists/sharron-matthews/
TORONTO, ON, CANADA on November 15th to 17th (the last night will be filmed) get tickets HERE>>> http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/event/sharron-matthews-naked/
BURNABY, BC, CANADA on November 25th and 26th to the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts get tickets HERE>>> https://tickets.shadboltcentre.com/TheatreManager/1/tmEvent/tmEvent908.html
AND THIS? Is the poster…. : )