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Body Image: The actor's struggle to meet the demands of an industry.

"I'm not interested in casting a weird in between. Either you need to be really skinny or really big."

This was stated by a New York casting director. Grant it, he does not speak for everyone in the industry. He also has every right to cast who he wants and do his job the best of his ability. However the representation for body inclusivity is actually growing with more and more casting directors, writers, and producers realizing the absolute ridiculousness of that statement. With the statement above being said a few months ago I realize the fight for body positivity is far from over. Before I go further with this, I am not one of those people who believe you should ignore alarming health concerns. I do not believe that is what the body positivity movement is about, but many people believe that's what it means. I do not agree. Just had to put that out there.

I am a normal BMI. For my height I am exactly normal. I am neither below my weight minimum nor above my weight maximum. I have an hour glass figure which I like, my thighs are a little bigger than I would prefer but I am working out to be healthy and become more toned. I am pale, fair skinned, with freckles all over me showing my strong European heritage. I dye my hair because I like red hair and feel it fits my personality and my great grandmother (who I have a strong resemblance to) was a natural red head. But my body is neither considered by the Health Administration fat or skinny. I am plain and simple, average.

This puts me in a position that I am often times uncomfortable with when it comes to casting. For stage I have to prove myself when it comes to ensemble work that I am a highly trained classical dancer even though I do not look like it a ballerina. I am not always tall or old enough to be a leading lady and do not look young enough (and often times I'm not short enough) to be an ingĂ©nue. For film I have a body that would be too big because "the camera adds ten pounds" or I am not big enough to play the "curvy big girl". So you see my dilemma. This does not mean I cannot get cast. I work really hard and hope my character and talent shine through past physical judgment, but this is where I am right now. Should I start working out 5 hours a day to lose 30 pounds or eat until I gain 70? No, I'm not interested.

My question to writers, casting directors, directors, and producers is this: Wouldn't you receive more positive feedback, viewers, and money if you created something that actually represented your audience as a whole?

Why are some companies unwilling to depict a healthy normal looking body in the media? Why is there this stigma that you must cast only really skinny or really big? Both of those requirements can be very unhealthy for certain people. Why make actors be under those strict requirements when you could absolutely cast someone who is normal looking. We are creating stories. These stories are inspired by people. Real people don't fit into a mold. They are all different. We can't all have long skinny legs, long necks, and flat abs. No one buys into this idealized garbage that doesn't represent them. It doesn't represent real issues that people deal with. These actors look like people who are paid to workout, who can afford to hire a trainer to workout with them hours and hours everyday, or they are just made that way. I can understand if those stories call for a percentage of that look, but almost 100%?

Why not show every kind of women instead of the opposite ends of the spectrum? What is wrong with showing a normal healthy body when that is what your audience looks like?

I believe that the industry is changing and moving toward this direction. The success of work including "Girls", "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend", "Trainwreck", "Black Mirror", and "New Girl" all show varying sizes of healthy, men and women, with stories that I believe represent society better than anything I have seen on other networks. These are successful shows and movies with a devoted following. If it works for them why can't it work for all art?

I asked another casting director about the topic and she wisely stated that those shows are written for those women and by those women (looking at you Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer). Well with that I would like to give a shout out to the artists who do just that. They were being ignored by the larger media and so they took matters into their own hands. They are successful because they dared to not follow the normal standard. They saw a financial opportunity to fill a sector and that sector is now growing. So will we suddenly see a shift in more diversity in body types on our screens? Probably not but we have at least started to realize that there is not one kind of beautiful. I think that more artists from my generation are sick of seeing the same thing over and over again in terms of casting and will start creating works that tell real stories about real men and women. I'm excited to see more from them.
A final note:
Thank you to the artists who believe diversity creates better art.

To those people who are not so inclusive: cookie cutter is outdated and boring. You're art is too.


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