Last night I went to the Queensland Theatre Company to see Fat Pig. To be honest I’d never heard of it. Horribly offensive title too. Perhaps I live in a cultural void, because my friends were surprised I’d not read about it. I’m glad they heard of it and I’m glad they invited me along. What a great play. Very thought provoking and indeed has prompted this post. Thanks to the Queensland Theatre Company I have provided a snapshot of the play below, just in case, you, like me, have no idea what I’m talking about!
Fat Pig By Neil LaBute
When Tom meets Helen in a crowded restaurant, their chance encounter soon develops into a full-blown romance.
Helen is beautiful, smart, funny and just a little on the large size. But to Tom’s self-obsessed work buddies, she’s just plain gross.
As office gossip about their relationship turns increasingly malicious, peer pressure leads to question whether his love for Helen outweighs the shallow stereotypes of his workmates.
Director: Morgan Dowsett
Designer: Renee Mulder
Sound Designer: Tony Brumpton
Lighting Designer: Ben Hughes
Assistant Director: Melanie Wild
Cast includes: Paige Gardiner, Amy Ingram, Steven Rooke and Christopher Sommers
I won’t talk about the play, per se, just in case you want to go and see it. However I can talk about the theme of it. Essentially it highlights how judgemental we can be of a person because of their size. Let’s face it, thin, perfectly toned bodies are what we all envy. A beautifully sculptured male or female body is very pleasing to the eye. We all want one. Truth is most of us won’t ever get one. Some of us may have had one in the past, some of us may be working towards one for now, but many of us will never even get close.
Anything that is aesthetically pleasing will always get the most attention. We are geared to be attracted to beautiful things. People, art, scenery, animals, and even food – beauty is enticing no matter who we are. The amazingly wonderful thing about us is we are designed so that beauty can mean different things to different people. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
Same goes for the people we are attracted to. We are all attracted to a certain type of person and this varies for everyone. This is the way we are made – if we were all attracted to the same type of person our species would be in serious trouble.
I am going to talk about weight now and I’m going to use the term “fat”. I’m not using it to be derogatory, offensive or politically incorrect. I’m merely using it as my word of choice for this post. Fat is fat. I can say overweight, large, big boned, horizontally challenged, full figured but I prefer to say fat. I am fat. I have fat. I have fat I don’t like. Fat has become part of me. My stomach is fat. My boobs are fat (they are big but lets be honest – much of it is fat), the top of my arms are fat – they wobble. I don’t really like my fat, but its part of me. Body fat is defined as – body mass not made up of bones, muscles, organs or water. I wasn’t always fat and most people would say I’m not fat now – perhaps a bit overweight? Whatever. It’s still fat.
It has been my experience that “most” people are not attracted to fat people. Most people don’t really like fat on themselves. Fat seems to conjour up feelings of grossness and disgust in many people. There are however people out there who love the fuller figure, who prefer their partners to be rounder and cuddlier. These people rock!
Fat however is also unhealthy in excess. I know I worry that I have too much fat around my heart. I’m 47, I could have a heart attack. I know how to lose weight. I understand nutrition, I understand metabolism, I understand exercise. So, why am I fat? Why are most people who are fat, still fat? We all know this stuff.
I’m going to look at this differently. I’m going to say I like fat. Fat is comforting. Fat keeps me warm. Fat feels nice to cuddle. Fat makes wrinkles less obvious. Fat means I don’t have to count calories if I am happy with it. Does this seem odd? It feels odd writing it. I’m thinking I wish I could think this way. Why don’t I? Only thing stopping me is society. The way we view “fat”.
Why are we so obsessed with fat? I know I am. Probably less so as I get older, but I am guilty of judging others for being fat. If I saw a fat lady and an attractive well groomed thinner lady coming towards me on the bus – I’m going to hope the fat lady sits somewhere else. Why? Because she’s fat? Probably. It’s how we think. My initial thoughts are “how disgusting, how can she let herself get like that?”. I hope she doesn’t sit next to me because she’ll spill into my seat, she’ll huff and puff and she’ll just annoy me. That’s so wrong. But, if we are really honest here, most of us do it. We shouldn’t, but we do. We have no right to judge, we don’t know what her life is about. We don’t know if she finds comfort in her food, we don’t know if she finds comfort in her fat. Perhaps her fat is a protection for her? Perhaps she was sexually abused when she was thinner, more attractive, and perhaps the fat is her protective barrier against abuse?
The play I saw last night was about a fat girl. She was fat. She was beautiful. She was funny. She was lovely. She was a nice person. She fell in love with a cute guy who wasn’t fat. He fell in love with her. His friends were not fat. His friends were judgemental. His friends were nasty. His friends were obsessed with themselves and their looks. His friends were shallow. His friends, unfortunately, were many of us, taken to the extreme of course. But nonetheless I saw elements of me in these nasty people. I saw elements of my friends, my family, people I love.
As we left the play, one of these said friends said “Wow, that made me think about how awful I am sometimes. I’m going to think about what I say and how I think.” Now I know that I felt the same way. I also know that we are not truly going to change, because inherently we are all judgemental to some degree. It is part of our make up. I guess it’s use is to keep us striving to be better people. I know I am less judgemental as I get older, but it is still there.
Body image can cause so many problems in life. I’ve had friends who have been anorexic and bulimic, I never understood why – they were beautiful. I have fat friends who I love dearly, but they have self esteem issues because of this. I had a husband who would have left me if I got fat. True. He would have. Luckily I left him first. Boooyeah!!!
The reason I have used the word “FAT” so much throughout this post is to highlight how much we let a very small word define so many things about so many people. Let’s not. Let’s not let words like fat, skinny, ugly, beautiful define us as humans.
Amy Ingram is a fine actor. Amy Ingram is beautiful. She is funny. She is kind. She is smart. She is someone I would like to have as a friend. I don’t need to describe her size to define her. Yet, we mostly do. I wish we didn’t.
How would you describe yourself? Do you always add your size/shape in your description?