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Plus Size Girls Aren’t On Stage Yet

By Marion Abbott

I’m addicted to Texture. It’s the app for your iPad (and other devices) that gives you access to tons of magazines. And it’s eye candy heaven! The colours and images are just glorious to take in. And I love it.

And this is how I discovered Ashley Graham. Somehow I missed her entrance into the Fashion World but wow! There she was in New York Magazine (August 7–20, 2017) and my first thought was:

“It’s a woman with a body like mine!!”

I’m a size 14. Sometimes I have a month of exercise and better eating choices and I’ll edge closer to 12, sometimes I’ll have a rough month of poutine comfort and edge closer to 16, but overall, size 14 has remained a constant for the last few years.

Do I have self-loathing days? Absolutely. Don’t we all?

Do I look at magazines and roll my eyes in disbelief that I’m supposed to look like someone who never met a burger in her life? Hahaha of course I do!

However, over the past few years, I’ve witnessed change. More and more curvy models are appearing in the magazines and catalogues I peruse, and there seem to be more and more curvy girl options for purchasing. And now Ashley Graham blazing even more trails? Yes!!! All the yes!!

But then, the body shaming email, sent by the management of Sheraton Cadwell Orchestra hit the internet. And I was reminded. Plus sized girls aren’t on stage yet.

As a musical theatre artist, I definitely have to back up and say “Oh wait! That’s right — there ARE opportunities for curvy women in musical theatre … as the old lady characters!” *insert eye roll here* So I repeat:

Plus sized girls aren’t on stage yet.

Why? Why the heck not?!

Apart from Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables, I can’t think of a single female character in the musical theatre canon whose ‘skinniness’ is written into the role and therefore must be cast as such. Are there others I’m not remembering?

One of the things that broke my heart as a producer, was watching female artists attempt to follow the unspoken rules of being a performer.

‘Thou shalt be thin’ is a huge one.

And it’s resulting in eating disorders and body shaming. All over the damn place.

And I suspect that it’s the same for male performers …

“Skinny and fit? All kinds of roles for you!! Overweight? Not superfit? To the list of character roles you go. And don’t complain about it!”

So what’s the problem?

Are plus-sized performers less talented? Hahaha no!! My word — that’s the dumbest thought ever!

Are people afraid to take a chance and cast outside the body zone box?

Absofrigginlutely.

Let this email scandal be a reminder to all producers and casting directors everywhere: we’re not stupid. We see what’s happening. And we aren’t fooled.

Let this scandal be an encouraging nudge to these same producers and casting directors to take a risk! Cast based on talent and your gut instinct — clothing size be damned!

If someone took that risk and put Ashely Graham on the cover of the New York (The New York for heaven sakes!!), then surely to goodness we can start putting curvy live performance artists on stages too, in something other than the character roles.

Marion — Size 14 since 2014

Link to Article on Sheraton Orchestra Email

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