Playing the Part: Thoughts on being a fat girl in the City of Angels
Posted by Tee in FGG Guests,Pulse of Fat Culture
A guest post by actress Jenny Gattone

Think of me as a war correspondent- frankly, itís a jungle out here. I speak of course, of the City of Angels. And Iím right in the thick of the battle - a chubby girl trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood.

I like to joke that when Iím on set I feel like a bull in a china shop. Film actresses are incredibly tiny, so Iím only half-kidding. I lived and worked in New York for about five years before doing a pilot, acquiring a manager, and moving across the country to work with said manager. I was terrified, wondering what would happen to me in the much more cookie-cutter world of Hollywood. Whatís interesting, though, is that I actually work more in LA than I ever did in New York. A LOT more. Iím happy to tell you that despite how things look on television, Los Angeles is not a sea of blond highlights and fake boobs.

Well, maybe a little. There is a more uniform sense of what is beautiful here. Iíll be honest: show business, no matter where you are, is rough on a chubby girl. There are going to be directors that flat out will not cast a fat girl no matter how fierce you are. You may be compared to appliances (in my case, a refrigerator), and the blunt and objective way people will deal with your looks can be soul-sucking. But thatís true for every actor. On the bright side, I can look at an audition breakdown and peg the chubby girl part. (Hint: if they donít flat out say fat, they usually mention the characterís love of food. Seriously.)

But as rough as it is on a chubby girl, itís actually tougher on the non-chubby girls. You couldnít pay me enough to be an ingťnue in this town. No way, not with what I see some of my friends go through. A chubby girl is an as-is purchase. What you see is what you get. What are they going to do, say ďHow fast can you lose 75 pounds?Ē Yeah, sure, give me a year. And itís a loooooooong day on a set. The skinny girls look so sad when lunch is served and they turn it down. Shoot, heck yeah I want a sandwich, Iíve been here nine hours!

One thing Iíve learned through LAís skewed sense of beauty is that thin girls donít really have a leg up in the self-image department. I havenít seriously entertained the idea that being thin would solve all my problems since I was a teenager, but I was still astounded to discover that I seem to be more comfortable in my own skin than many of my thinner peers. It makes me sad to see so many of them try to come to terms with the ways in which they donít resemble a swizzle stick and accept those things as ďflaws.Ē Itís frustrating the way women are expected to live up to those unhealthy standards of thinness. I would love to see a full-scale revolution of women in this business. I would love to see us all, regardless of shape or size, stand up and say, ďFuck this!Ē

Unfortunately, there will always be women who will happily maintain a double-digit weight to work in film.

Right now you must be thinking, so how are things not as bad in LA as they look? My friends, itís all attitude. You have to rise above the mind games. You have to grow a thick skin and see how beautiful you are no matter what they throw at you. Because truth is, most on-screen women arenít any more beautiful than you and I; itís amazing what a well-paid beauty professional in this town can do for any actress.

So girls, no matter what society tells you Ė directly or indirectly - about what is and isnít beautiful and how appropriate it is to recognize and appreciate yours, screw them Ė feel it, recognize and appreciate it anyway. I try to, and Iím getting better and better at it as I go. Besides, Iím doing all right here. Iíve done a couple pilots, gone in for some cool films, I belong to a fantastic theatre company in Hollywood that I absolutely love, and Iím in my second show this year.

I also collaborated on a screenplay thatís now in pre-production. The heroine? A chubby girl. Because thereís no shortage of us off-camera, and one of my career goals is to get more of us in front of it.

Jenny Gattone