- “She’s too fat to play with the girls. She’ll probably break the trampoline.”
- “I just don’t see myself dating a girl your size…But I really do like you and wish we could date.”
- “Your outfit is supposed to be for skinny girls, not big girls.”
- “You want to be an actress? I hate to say, but they don’t look for girls your size.”
- “We only carry sizes 1, 3, and 5. You could try Sears.”
All of these things have been said to my face at one point in my life. Well, except the last one. That was said to Regina George.
I was only 8 years old, at my friend’s birthday party, when I heard that first phrase from my friend’s mother. I remember thinking, “She’s right. I might break the trampoline and ruin the birthday party. I just don’t deserve to have fun with my friends.” Many of these phrases have stuck with me throughout my life. I would think about them when I was shopping for an outfit, browsing through audition posts, or when I would see an attractive guy anywhere. I always had to search extremely hard for something that fit me. I’d always get recommended to read for “matronly” or “supporting roles” in auditions and I had never really dated or even been asked on a date before.
In several situations, I felt so unworthy based on my size…that number on the tag inside my jeans.
Right before my big move to New York City, I really started obsessing with my appearance. At my heaviest, I was almost 300 pounds. I wore a size 22 in women’s pants and XXL in most t-shirts.
In San Antonio, I lived on the 7th floor of an apartment building and one day started making it a habit to walk the 7 flights up to my apartment. Then, a diet change, followed by regular cardio workouts at home. Before I knew it, I was down 30 pounds in 3 months. Compliments on my weight loss were being thrown at me constantly, and I was ready to start my new life in NYC!
As the first few months living in New York went by, I continued the healthy diet. Walking everywhere made weight fall right off and I began running everyday along the Hudson River. Honestly, it felt incredibly good to be healthy! My energy was up and I had lost a total of 60 pounds (marking 90 pounds down from my heaviest)! I saw a number on the scale I had never seen before.
I physically felt ready for my first theatre audition in NYC. The casting notice I applied for stated, “Cynthia (LEAD) – sexy, young, vibrant woman, always happy,” which I definitely felt described me. I read all the sides that were sent to me and loved the dialogue between Cynthia and the other character in the scene. As I walked in to audition for the role of Cynthia, I noticed 95% of these actresses in the lobby were maybe between a size 0-5. I tried not to let that get to me too much as I confidently marched my new size 14 self in the audition room.
“Thank you for your audition, Alexandra! You did really great! Can you actually come back tomorrow and read for a different part? It’s the role of Cynthia’s best friend, Lisa. You just look more like the best friend type, not the lead. Cynthia, the lead, needs to be tall and slender…a ‘looker’, you know?”
There it was…that unworthy feeling hitting me again. I didn’t go to the audition the next day. Of course, I knew, getting into this industry, there would be moments like this. I’m not THAT naive. But, I felt I fit the description perfectly and aced that audition. How could I work so hard to shed all this weight and STILL not be worthy to play a “sexy, young, vibrant, happy” woman? I certainly felt all those things. How did they not see that? I didn’t want to compromise myself for a role that didn’t speak to me because they think I’m not a “looker.”
After looking at photos of how I used to look and how far I’ve come, I truly realized that no matter how much weight you drop, someone may simply say that you’re just not what they prefer. Beauty and talent are subjective. I could have continued this chase of trying to achieve what I thought casting directors, or even cute guys, are looking for. OR, I could love and embrace my flaws and utilize them as a tool. Plus, I was proud of my new, healthy self.
Trust me, I know how hard it can be to love and embrace your body. The media will always be there to dish out what is defined as the “perfect” body and how to achieve it but, really, the “perfect” body for you is the one you are HAPPY and HEALTHY in. Those numbers on the scale or sewn on the inside of your jeans does not define who you are. There are many individuals considered “plus” that are toned and healthy! Healthy and happy come in different shapes and sizes.
“What other people think of me is none of my business.” Once I got that saying a part of my daily thought process, the more things I’ve been able to achieve. I was finally able to fully pursue my secret dreams of becoming a Plus Size Model and signed with Queen Size Model Management. I regained the courage to continue my theatre studies (and got in!) at the prestigiously wonderful school, Stella Adler Studio of Acting. And finally, I decided to produce Fat Pig by Neil LaBute, a play that not only deals with body image, but has a part in it that I’m “worthy” of playing. 😉
And more importantly, I couldn’t be happier!
P.S. Even though I’m still single and have yet to go on a real date (gentlemen, don’t all rush at once…form an orderly queue, please) I’m happy to report I’ve kept all the weight off and the guy who “didn’t see himself dating a girl my size” attempted contacting me two years ago and I was like…