PERSONAL NOTE: I’m HORRIFIED by the reports in this article. Adults should know better. Think outside the box people!!! THIS. IS. THEATRE. Sheesh!
When I asked actors to anonymously disclose their experience of fatphobia in youth theatre, it was painful to read – not just because of the abuse that they suffered, but because I know they expected better. Shows like Glee and High School Musical the Musical: the Series preach a world where theatre is a safe space for all, especially in educational contexts. Young people use this art form to escape parents who don’t understand, bullies, heartache – and often, even worse. To be hurt by your own cuts so deep.
That is why it is difficult to dig into the darkness of something that we, as a community, love so much. Many people who identify as an “actor” or even just a “theatre fan” caught the spark at some point in childhood, brimming with imagination and joy. There is a fondness in those memories and rightfully so. But it is also important to peel back the curtain and recognize where we are failing. And the only way to do that is, to be honest.
So I asked fourteen former youth theatre performers, now all grown up, to share their experiences of fatphobia and body shaming with me.