An Introverted Actress

How Do I Block Out The "Fat Shaming" Noise?


“We’ve never had an Eponine quite so…butch…before. So you’ll need to cover up your arms because they’re really not doing you any favours.”


These words were said to me on my opening night of Les Miserables as Eponine and I will never ever forget them. I was twenty years old and was not mentally and emotionally mature and secure enough to deal with something like that being said to me. These words could have easily burrowed down deep enough in my brain to cause some serious issues but I was lucky to be surrounded by a cast of strong women of all shapes and sizes most of whom were seasoned pros. Women who were secure in their talent and abilities who didn’t let words like that impact their day to day work life. They had earned their place on the West End stage because they were the best for the job. I realised I would need to adopt that mentality, that confidence and security because I knew that wouldn’t be the last time I heard something like that. 


And it wasn’t. 


I honestly don’t think there has been a single role thus far where someone hasn’t said I shouldn’t have been cast because I’m “too big” to play it. Let’s bear in mind, I’m a size 14. So what message does that send to all the bodies more marginalised than my own? That no one past a…what? Size 8? Size 10?…is ever going to play a leading role? Someone said to me I shouldn’t be playing Fantine because Fantine was starving and died of consumption. News flash. I’m also not French. When I played Wednesday, I had no idea how to actually shoot a crossbow. When I played Veronica, I didn’t actually murder anyone! There is a certain level of disbelief we happily suspend for musicals. We’ll accept forty people bursting into song in the middle of revolutionary France. We’ll accept an entire cast all knowing the same choreography as if they’d never rehearsed together a day in their lives. We’ll accept cars and nannies that fly and statues that come to life and little girls that have magical powers. But a fat girl playing a leading role? “Not realistic! Not historically accurate!” When we accept the fantastical but reject the average (because the average size of women in the UK is a 16…!), something isn’t right. 


Things are slowly changing. Bit by bit. Inch by inch. The theatre community is far more accepting than any other part of the entertainment industry in my opinion but it will take people with bigger bodies willing to speak out and challenge what has always been "normal". It’s an issue that needs to be changed from the top down. Producers, directors, casting directors need to change this outdated mindset that bigger people can only play character parts or roles where size is the main focus like Tracy in Hairspray or Martha in Heathers. But we also need to keep this conversation going. Challenge the people that say “you could never play that role”. Why? If size is nothing to do with the story then the role should be open to anyone and the person who can sing and act the crap out of it should land it, regardless of everything else. 


So whilst the industry is catching up, you need to hold on to your confidence in your ability. Your voice, your acting, your dancing...Nothing else should matter. I also suggest finding people with bigger bodies who are doing what you want to do and following them on all social media platform. Let them infuse you with confidence. People are commanding the stage like no one else because they don’t let anyone tell them they need to change in order to be better. They’re already the best! Your body does not dictate how talented you are and therefore should not dictate what roles you get to play. Life is too short. Embrace your talent. Embrace yourself. There will be challenges. But we’ll get there. 

<3 


Xxx





5 comments

  1. Love this Carrie! Embrace yourself, and one day you might just find yourself as Cinderella in an ALW original! You can be whatever you want to be if you just believe! You’re an inspiration to all your fans, especially the young girls, I’m sure! X

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  2. This has made my day. I am always self conscious about my body and just hearing that I am not the only one who feels this way. And hearing that I should have the confidence I need no matter my size truly made me smile. Thank you.

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  3. Love, love, love this. You are truly an inspiration for so many. I can’t wait to share this with my daughters. Thank-you.

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  4. Absolutely yes, this! I'm a size 18 actress and I've been told when I was younger that I'm "too big" for lead roles. That I'd "upstage the boys" in school productions because I'm tall and fat.

    And yet, I went out and got myself professional work. I've auditioned in front of major industry leaders, played big roles in professional productions locally, and made a career for myself that I've only lapsed slightly because of logistical issues. Not ONCE was my capability challenged because of my size.

    You don't have to be skinny to do what you love. You're beautiful exactly as you are.

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  5. I absolutely love this and think everyone should read it. I have a 2 year old daughter and hope that by the time she is a teenager there won't be as much pressure on her as there are for girls/women now

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