Being an actor means a lot of things: adhering to a gypsy lifestyle, a lot of wonderful creative connections, creating work with different people, just to name a few. It also requires a lot of discipline, resilience, and time. Being a professional actor also means there is a lot of pressure and a lot of emphasis placed on how you look. Body image is a skewed topic in this professional field, and like it or not it directly effects your job.
I knew when I was young I wanted to be a performer because I love making people smile. The act of sharing so much of yourself with a group of people made me feel electric. As I navigated my way through my younger years I became very aware of how I looked, like every young person, and became even more aware of it in the entertainment community. I realized that "type" and "look" played a crucial role in this business that prides itself on acceptance. I started to question where I fit. I've always been told I was a "character" actress...the average description of these roles are as follows: "funny best friend", "slightly overweight sibling", "compulsive eater", "round", "obese", "heavy", "large in stature"... The list goes on and on. These breakdowns center on physical attributes most of the time. None of these adjectives define who I am as a performer, or who I am as a person.
I have grown frustrated knowing that I get called into audition for roles solely because my pictures show that I am above a size 0-4 (And this is in no way a knock on those girls who are those sizes, because they also bear the burden of this physical typing). It's not that I dislike auditioning or playing these roles, quite the opposite! My challenge for everyone is can we find positive adjectives to make these characters seem empowered instead of the person we are supposed to laugh at. Why does the "funny best friend" have to be "fat." Why is fat funny? There is nothing funny about being ridiculed for the way you look. Why can't Belle be a size 20 if she has the skills?
I have spent a lot of time thinking about the emotional ramifications women face because of this focus on their bodies. Why do our bodies have to be under attack everyday? Isn't it time we all looked in the mirror and organically thought something positive instead of negative? I am a 25 year old female who has spent the last 15 years trying to change the way I look. I am in great shape, I eat well, and I am at the size my body feels most comfortable at. I have struggled with disordered eating. I have allowed my physical self to define who I am. And I have decided that enough is enough.
I love what I do, it will always be the first love of my life. I feel grateful that I have a passion that is so deeply rooted in who I am, but I will no longer allow this passion to make me feel physically inadequate. I am trying to be more physically free in my artistic endeavors, to not apologize for the "imperfections". Now, when I walk into the audition room I own myself. I challenge other women to do the same. Be the person that changes their mind in the room. Don't shrink yourself down because you're scared of how bright your light is. If anything you're lighting the way for those to come.
Written by Elise Arndt;
RYB Cast Member
(RYB Cast Members; Pictured from Left to Right: Starr, Lizzy, Sarah, Elise, Nicole)