Can you imagine walking into an interview and being asked to strip down to your underwear then being weighed and measured by the interviewer only to find that if you are just a little over weight or a millimetre too wide then you can’t have the job.
To be fair if any other industry did, there would be a lot of court cases, firstly for discrimination, that’s if sexual harassment doesn’t make the grades first. So why is it OK for the arts to get away with it? I once heard it said that unless there are specific guides in the script that a person has to look or weigh, then expecting an individual to be any other way a part from them self “you are looking for a model and not an actor.”
Not only is the director looking for a model, but at the same time they are ‘body-shaming’ an individual who is stood in that room who has worked so hard on their performance. It will not only lead to lowering self-esteem but it will do nothing to benefit mental health of individuals.
It is completely unacceptable for any individual to lose weight or change their appearance in some way unless it is for health or lifestyle reasons which the advice should only come from health experts but not for a career, leisure, relationships or anything else. And when body shaming comes from the arts it makes it all far worse, as they are the ones who are supposed to stamp it out with their creativity to help society become a better place.
The arts are supposed to be encouraging, empowering and confidence building industry, but there seems to be a lot of negativity recently, what with bullying and now body shaming.
There is no reason why actors shouldn’t be able for feedback on why they didn’t get the part and if the feedback comes in the form of weight or size then the question needs to be asked ‘why?’ and find out if it has to do with the character you auditioned for, ask for evidences in of this in the script, and most of all if your experience is bad make sure you tell others. By creating a bad reputation through word of mouth is the best way to stamp out this kind of behaviour.
Actors and actresses already experience pressure of body shaming on social media and on the world stage in general so they shouldn’t be forced to endure it more through auditions and other industry standards put in place by directors and producers.
But we have to remember that this is not just an arts industry issue its society wide and it can have devastating effects, including social anxiety, stress and even obesity and other eating disorders. So when it comes to an audition we need to be more sensitive because whether the body shaming is intentional or not it does happens and the person on the receiving end will be affected in some way or other if the producer says, ‘You need to lose weight for this part’ or something to that effect as they take the measurements and weight of the individual.
It is really important that as the term ‘diversity’ is addressed within the arts that we don’t forget that this is not just about race, religion or colour of skin, the fundamentals behind the diversity, whatever the show maybe, is to show the very real world we live in.
There are very few shows either established and new that have written the way a person looks or weighs as the main theme. The only exemption being those musicals that are dedicated to specific people or celebrities.