• Christina Peña

Broadway Body???

The average size of an American woman is now between 16 to 18

Let’s read that again. 

The average size of an American woman is now between 16 to 18. 

Why then is that not represented on stage? 

There are many musicals that claim to tell an American story. But they do not feature people of every size, race, gender identity, disability, even age. Where is the representation?? 

There is this stigma of the “Broadway Body”. If you’re not tall, thin, white, then there are limited roles for you. I can name the number of “plus size” female roles on 1 hand. It’s as if they are a specialty. As if casting director can only use plus size women to fill these roles and nothing else. 

A Casting Director once said “We need a young girl who is—what shall we say—chubby/fat/big. But a healthy version of a fat girl, because she is dancing her ass off for two hours.”  

I’m a fat girl who can do a triple pirouette, both of my splits, and can do a pretty nasty time step. I am also a confident strong woman and I know exactly what I bring to the table. 

I want you to take a look at these current breakdowns of roles that plus size women are cast in:

Tracy - Must be heavyset.Tracy is outgoing, unstoppable and good-hearted, with a vibrant, lovable, spirited personality. 

Jan -A compulsive eater. Loud, pushy with the girls, but shy with the boys. Strong pop singer.

Helen - A quite heavy, though self-confident librarian. She becomes Tom's love interest and the catalyst for his change of view.

Effie White - plus-sized lead singer of the group with a HUGE voice and a Diva attitude to match

These words are hurtful to young women, who are just trying to find their voice and place in theater. We are in and age of theater that preaches inclusivity and diversity, but the fight is still real. Why should these women denied roles that they are perfect for because of their size?  We all deserve a chance to tell our stories. 

THANKFULLY theater is changing. Shows like SIX, Waitress, Head Over Heels, Freaky Friday are casting women of every size. Their breakdowns don’t talk about the women’s bodies but their ability and characteristic. 

We have a long way to go but us fat girls aren’t going anywhere…

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