As young as I can remember, I wanted to be an actress or a writer. I documented my dream job in my “All About Me” project in elementary school, listing the reasons why along with sketches of books I’d write, like a Sweet Valley High series. I had always loved watching television and movies and knew I was going to either write or get into acting. In Grade 7, I wrote a script for our Junior High School play based on a Three’s Company episode, performing the comedy during a school assembly. At the age of 11, I was writing my first romance novel. By the time I was a teenager, I went down a deep hole of writing dark poetry on existentialism and analyzing my own mortality. I took drama from middle school throughout high school, with the hopes of getting into a University theatre program at Ryerson.
At that time, modelling agencies would often have casting calls in shopping malls. Approached by one around the age of 16, I was flattered but knew that at 5’7”, I was on the shorter side for modelling. But by joining a modelling agency, I could audition for commercials which could help me break into acting. Oh, the excitement and anxiety I felt leading up to that appointment. I prepared myself for the fact that my height was likely not going to qualify me to model. But never did I imagine that my size 6 frame was considered too thick. “You’ll need to lose weight”, the agent said. From where? I was already small enough, so I thought. In order to be representing by the agency, I would have to drop at least 10-15 pounds. I was already 125 pounds – a healthy weight for my height – there was no way I could drop down to 110.
Luckily I was confident enough in myself to reply that I wasn’t going to starve myself. A young impressionable girl with big dreams could easily be swayed to begin a low-calorie diet, become obsessed with exercising to drop the weight – leading to a possible unhealthy lifestyle and a potential eating disorder. I knew better and declined the offer.
Instead, I pursued acting through a talent agent and began going on auditions while taking acting lessons. Once I began auditioning, it became glaringly obvious – I always was the bigger one among the young women there. When I looked in the mirror and saw my size 6-8 frame, I felt as though I was slim enough. But when I compared myself to the others, the size difference was obvious. I mean, my ribs and wrist bones were larger than other girls, there was no way I could ever have a smaller waist, it was physically impossible unless I had a rib removed! There was no way I could compete with a size 0 girl.
I recall looking around, sizing up my competition and always feeling like I couldn’t measure up to what the casting people were looking for. Couldn’t they see that I was a healthy weight? Why did that even matter? Wasn’t my audition enough to sell my acting ability? But the camera puts on 10 pounds so I’d never stand a chance. It seemed the casting directors or producers were always going to hire the slimmer one.
Disillusioned by the industry, I knew I was done. I didn’t want to put myself in constant situations where I’d feel less than enough. It wasn’t good for my mental health and I wasn’t going to suffer physically in order to be relevant. The TV/film industry is full of competition and rejection, causing anxiety and self-esteem issues for many. What we see displayed in various forms of media can have a negative psychological effect whether consciously or subconsciously.
We’ve seen some great strides in body-positive on social media; some innovation campaigns with inclusivity in fashion, with models like Ashley Graham leading a body positivity revolution. We’ve also seen some gorgeous “plus-size” models – and I use quotes as these women are considered plus-size in the fashion industry but are average in real life – like Crystal Renn and most recently, Jill Kortleve for Chanel strut the runways.
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I can’t believe this just happened but… to end this fashion month, I walked my first fashion show for @chanelofficial. I m so thankful for this moment to happen and for everybody who made this happen; There’s a much needed change happening on the runway and I’m proud and feel grateful to be a part of it. I truly hope that in the future I get to see and work with many more models who used to not fit the briefing This whole month has been a dream and I never expected that it was even possible for me to walk on the runway, let alone be included in the amazing shows this season. Thank you. My heart is filled with gratitude and love.
But in Hollywood? Not even close.
Search up “more body inclusivity in movies” and you’ll read headlines like “In a Body-Positive Moment, Why Does Hollywood Remain Out of Step” and Hollywood’s enduring size inclusivity problem and 20 Celebrities Criticized for their Curves and 9 Hollywood Actresses Who Were Told They Weren’t ‘Pretty Enough’ To Make It In Hollywood.
How has being in this toxic industry affected my own self-esteem and body image? Stay tuned for my next post where I share how that experience influenced me much deeper than I ever cared to admit to myself.