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Weighty Matters

November 11, 2013

A director recently told me that most casting directors would recommend that I “lose 20 pounds, or gain 60.”

Weight is always a stressful issue, and one of the most visible vestiges of sexism in our society. Women are far more often the victims of unrealistic and unobtainable media images of what a body “should” look like, which creates an environment of psychological and physical self-abuse. In the performing arts, the problem is amplified, with performers who are already at or beneath their ideal weight expected to starve themselves — thus perpetuating this image of the false ideal.

Men do not suffer from this, largely because men are still for the most part the rulers of media and therefore get to set the standards. How often do we see an attractive, skinny woman walking down the street with a big fat boyfriend? And how rarely do we see the reverse? Men even escape the judgment of weight in the entertainment industry. John Goodman is one of the most talented film actors working today. But would a Jane Goodman have made it nearly as far?

I have had psychological issues about my weight since adolescence, even though in medical terms I am only slightly overweight. (For someone of my height, as long as my weight begins with a “1” I am probably okay.) While I have successfully overcome other issues in my life — notably, giving up alcohol entirely — I have a hard time staying away from frivolous snacking. This has not been an issue for me as a performer, but it remains one in my personal life

Peter Sig

4 Comments leave one →
  1. California Triple-Threat permalink
    November 11, 2013 3:59 pm

    While men don’t face this as much, it is always an issue for actors. Like it or not, we fit into stereotypes. Stereotypes make it easier for directors and casting directors to view us. By lowering or raising your weight you MIGHT limit yourself to more specific roles. But it’s not a given!

  2. November 11, 2013 11:21 pm

    Just found this video and thought back to your post. Check it out –

  3. The College Theatre Dork permalink
    November 13, 2013 8:20 pm

    Yup! I’ve been blogging about my own body issues a lot recently (and I think you just inspired another!)…as far as physical appearance is concerned, theatre (and film!) truly hold the mirror up to nature unfortunately. Sometimes though, I think we are holding up a fun-house mirror.

  4. November 19, 2013 1:44 pm

    I’ve realized recently that having a tasty snack or beverage helps “ground” me when I’m sitting down at my desk in an attempt to get work done (looking for projects, going over scripts, blogging, etc). My favorite thing to have is a cup of coffee, but this doesn’t bode well if it’s 10:00pm and I have work the next morning. To make matters more complicated, I started a healthy eating kick several months ago. I feel fantastic, but definitely struggle with the cravings as I try to get work done.

    I’ve found the most effective thing has been to remind myself how great I feel when I stay away from those snacks that I love oh so very much. And then when I have a good week, I don’t hesitate to reward myself with a treat from Dairy Queen across the street. (I’m a big fan of Reese’s Blizzards.)

    Also, the guy who changed my life with the whole healthy eating thing is Adam Gilbert. He runs It’s expensive, so I’ve been sticking to reading his free emails and tweets. But he’s worth looking into.

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