Mathilda Gregory on the importance of Fat Pride
I’m delighted that the show I’ve hosted since 2017, Fat Cabaret will be the cornerstone the Fat Pride Season at The Marlborough Theatre in Brighton. Fat Cabaret is a big fat ball of joy. Our team of talented chubs has put together sell out after sell out show, cramming the little theatre space with cute bingo wings and handsome double chins and backstage donut scoffing.
But Fat Cabaret isn’t just a riot of plus-sized fun and glitter, it’s also a show that makes an important statement. It’s a glamorous show that says something profound. I’ve always loved performing, but I’ve often noticed I’m the only fat performer on the bill or the fattest person in the cast. We’re always hearing about the rampaging hoards of fat people, always growing fatter, always swelling our ranks, so why are there so few fat people on stage? Where are we?
It’s hard to have a fat body in a world that tell you fat bodies are flawed, a problem that needs to be fixed. Even if you personally disagree, it’s a lot to take on. From well meaning things like being told that it’s a shame because you have “such a pretty face”, to frustrating things like not being able to buy a pair of knickers on the high street, to frightening things like having someone shout abuse at you as they drive past. It is tough to have to keep telling yourself that despite what the world might think your body is actually okay.
Fat Cabaret is a place where that feels different. Here, being fat is not just okay. It’s good, actually. It’s better. We have a rule. At Fat Cabaret only fat people get onstage. Only fat people get the spotlight, the microphone, the applause. Putting fat bodies on stage says: these bodies are okay, these bodies are fine. It is perfectly okay for people to see your fat body, to celebrate it, to love it.
And they do. Fat Cabaret regularly sells out. Audiences love us. And not just because we still have pretty faces, but because they love us for being fat.
Fat people in the audience regularly cry, overwhelmed with relief to see bodies like their own on stage. And because we always cram our show with the most diverse range of fat bodies we can find, if you are fat, you’ll find someone like you standing in the spotlight. And if you can’t – trust us – it’s because we can’t find a performer just like you, and if you want to help us with that we have regular open spots for new acts. Because it’s vital to us that it’s not just acceptable, glamorous, fat, young women with hourglass figures at fat cabaret. We have every kind of fat body, because all fat bodies are good bodies. And all fat bodies deserve love and attention and some god damn applause.
When stages lack fat people the message is clear. Fat people do not belong in the spotlight. Fat people are not worth looking at. Which makes just getting on stage when you are fat an act of radical defiance. A push back that says, no I will not dress in voluminous black clothing in the hope that people mistake me for just a disembodied head: look at me. LOOK AT MY BODY.
And hidden in plain sight at Fat Cabaret is another message our audiences can take home, perhaps a confirmation of something you always suspected: fat people are smart, funny and sexy. Fat people are as smart, as funny, as sexy as everyone else. Fat people are as good as everyone else.
Fat people deserve their share of the spotlight. The world is lucky to get to look at us.
Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of DIVA magazine or its publishers.
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