Two weeks ago, I thought I was sooo busy– looking for a new job, rehearsals, kids’ activities, errands, family time, friend time, slowly working my way through deep-cleaning the house…
Ha. Yeah. Anyway.
It still doesn’t feel quite real. I told my husband this whole thing has felt like an out-of-body experience. I never expected anything like it. Growing up, my dream was to be on Broadway, to make a living with my passion for performing. But life happened and don’t get me wrong; that’s a good thing. Theatre has remained my passion; it fulfills me, it makes me happy and it hardly ever feels like work. On the other side, I’ve also settled into what I refer to as “the day job”, the career. I’m good at it, I like it and I work hard; but that’s where it stops. Theatre = passion. Day job = work. This is life.
Then Friday, June 24th happened. I’ve long been passionate about body image and acceptance within my own circle of friends. I’ve taken to Facebook multiple times in the past to discuss similar experiences of being judged or shamed about my body. But this time the right message reached the right people at the right time. Hence, a perfect storm. Not that I’m complaining, but for someone whose audience usually sits in a dark theatre and watches me randomly burst into song while I pretend to be someone else, this was something completely new. Out of my comfort zone. And a little scary.
A simple post I wrote about putting on a pair of shorts rallied the troops- behind me. It created a call to action about what I’ve referred to as “the last legal form of bigotry”. Now I’m suddenly the face of a movement that is gaining momentum and already affecting change; and that’s a big responsibility that I don’t take lightly.
Yes, this responsibility is scary- because it’s so important. It is, and will continue to be, hard work. But in my experience, when you’re passionate about something, you don’t mind the work. In fact, often times it doesn’t FEEL like work. And that’s exciting! It’s refreshing to combine something you’re passionate about with hard work- and see the results.
We’ve been given a brief window of opportunity to do something with this movement. The media storm lifted me up and now it’s up to me and all of you to keep it moving onward and upward. I truly believe if the right decisions are made at the right times and for the right reasons, this will get bigger and better and could theoretically cause a landslide that tears down sizeism.
If that’s going to happen, the message needs to do two things:
(1) It needs to, HAS to stay visible. I’ve had several people jokingly (or not) say “When are you going on Ellen?” I laugh uncomfortably as I imagine what my detractors are saying about that. It’s a long shot, but can you imagine the impact? Yes, staying visible means keeping the brand visible in mainstream media: online, on air, on paper. Specifically, what will that entail? I’m not sure. Media is a fickle friend. And while something like ‘Ellen’ could have a huge impact, the long-term visibility and relevance of our message in the public eye depends more on ALL of us keeping it alive by what we’ve been doing for the past two week: sharing our stories and supporting each other. Taking action.
(2) The message also has to stay on point. That message, from the beginning, has been this:
“Don’t let the body you want keep you from loving the body you have. Celebrate each other. Every day.”
That’s it. It’s a message of acceptance, not only telling us to love ourselves, but also reminding us that we as human beings are responsible for NOT tearing each other down. For ANY reason.
#TheBodyYouHave is not about discouraging a healthy lifestyle. It’s not about promoting obesity or laziness. And while it obviously needs to reach those who are doing the tearing down, the message is not specifically about the woman at the UPS store. Her words moved me to share my experience; sharing that experience was a catalyst. That’s all.
So for now, do this: take action. Be the change.
Build each other up with your words and actions. That’s where it starts. Where does it go? That’s up to me and to you. How about a society where human beauty is as varied a spectrum as human sexuality?
Does that sound exhilarating? It does to me.