Sunday, July 21, 2013

Goodbye Mae West

Belle of the Nineties
Back in the early 1990's, when I was first pursuing a career in Musical Theatre, I was doing a Christmas a show at the Downey Civic Light Opera in Downey, California.  The second act of the show opened with several big choral numbers, and one night at rehearsal, while we were all getting into our places on the risers, the singer right behind me said,
"This may sound strange, but you look exactly like Mae West.  I worked with her years ago, and your figure is just like hers."

A few years later I was auditioning for Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and when I told the the director that I wanted to read for the role of Puck, he laughed and said, "Mae West Plays Puck?  No, we'd like you to read for the part of Hermia."  I got the part and had a wonderful experience, but I would have liked to have had a body that made me more versatile as an actor.

I will always be grateful to Mae West for helping me meet my husband.  Here's how it happened.  I was performing in a musical out of town when the artistic director of the theatre asked me if I did any impersonations.  The repertory theatre where I was woking put on a benefit comedy show every year, and the company actor who was writing it needed performers who could impersonate celebrities to volunteer.  When I said that I could do a pretty good Mae West impersonation, they made me the female lead.

My husband to be was that writer, and my co-star as well.  Sparks flew from the first rehearsal, and we've been together ever since.  Thanks Mae!

So what does this have to do with Beauty Building and fat loss?  Well, my Mae West episodes all happened at times when I was at what used to be my leanest, but not quite as lean as I am now.  As my weight drops below 122, and my body fat percentage gets near or below 20, I have to say goodbye to my extravagant figure.  My chest and hips get smaller, and though I'm delighted that my stomach gets flatter too, I start to look normal.  It's a really nice kind of normal, one that I've struggled to achieve for years, but there's a kind of bittersweetness to it.

Miss West's body has not been considered ideal for decades now, but for years it was considered wonderful and special.  The great beauties of today, like Giselle, Gwyneth, Jessica Alba, Duchess Kate, and Zoe Saldana to name a few, are almost always hyper lean, and super tall.  The smaller curvier celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Jessica Simpson, and Christina Aguilera are often followed in the news because of their weight struggles.  It's as if you have to pay for your extravagant figure with ridicule in some corners of the media.

Kermit may have sung, "It Isn't Easy Being Green," but I can tell you, "It's Easier Being Lean."  At least it's easier in terms of public acceptance.

The difficult truth I have to face is that for years I have wanted the power and opportunities that come form being perceived as beautiful.  As a performer, I wanted to have the career choices that the slenderest female actors had.  Now that I've finally discovered how to get and stay slender after all these years, there is a part of me that wants to bring Mae West back.  I want to live in a world where the unique beauty of every woman is celebrated, no matter what her height, weight, color, or shape might be.  I want to live in world where beauty is a celebration instead of a competition.

How many of us dress, walk, and act in a way that's mean to deflect attention from what is unique about our bodies, and how many industries capitalize on this desire to look normal and stay under the radar?

The youngest ever female self-made Billionaire is Sara Blakey, the inventor of Spanx.  Think about that for a moment.  Our youngest  female billionaire entrepreneur found a new way to make and market the girdle- that thing we once burned as a symbol of liberation.

I used to have a drawer full of Spanx and similar body slimmers.  Thanks to Turbulence Training I was able to throw them all away.  Now that I'm normal, I don't need them anymore.  Now I have lots of energy, a job I love, and acceptance.  Maybe in ten or twenty years, women won't have to get thin to have those things too.