I’m a Body Positive Blogger and Was Asked to Audition for a Weight Loss Commercial
It’s not every day that an email with the subject line “Casting in NYC” lands in my inbox. In fact, it’s only happened once, and that day was yesterday.
A casting agent had been scrolling through Instagram looking at photos with the hashtag #bigandtall and had come across me (I started my men’s plus size fashion account @extraextrastyle two years ago and use that hashtag in almost every post). She explained that she was casting a commercial for a major weight loss “system” and wanted to know if I was interested in trying out for it.
Instead of being upset about being asked to participate in a commercial to push the billion dollar weight loss industry (for a product that I BEGGED my mom to buy me when I was in elementary school, because even then I bought into the marketing, thinking that if I just lost weight my life would improve in countless, immeasurable ways), I was…excited.
I jumped out of my chair, a plus-size smile on my plus-size face, to share the good news with my nearest coworker. A national commercial! The money! (Not a ton of money, but still – getting paid to feel like a celeb for a day?) The fame! It didn’t matter that I didn’t actually have the commercial yet – I was already a STAR in my mind.
But then. I remembered the desperation I felt in elementary school to lose weight, a desperation that was only exceeded by the frustration I felt when I inevitably failed. Failed to be stronger than my cravings, failed in my attempt to make my body look like everybody else’s, failed in my attempt to force my body to be something it didn’t want to be.
I thought of the messages I’ve gotten on my Instagram and my blog from people around the world thanking me for helping them feel better about themselves. I realized that if I did this commercial I would be abandoning everything I’ve strived for over the last two years of blogging.
I wrote back to the agent, “I’m flattered to be considered but my platform is body positivity and that doesn’t jive with [this product]. Thank you for thinking of me, but I’m going to have to pass.”
My career in showbiz was over before it even started.
The agent wrote back, saying “I really respect your reason to opt out, and I think it’s honorable of you and to your followers.”
So what’s the point of this essay? It’s not to share a story about being asked to try out for a commercial. It’s not to try to get virtual head pats for turning it down. It’s to say that it was HARD to turn it down. I wanted to do it. But in the end I couldn’t be a part of something that promotes the thin-obsessed culture we live in.
I turned it down not for my followers, but for me. Fourth grade me, high school me, young adult me. After all, I’ve been a part of the #bodypositive community for two years, but I’ve been fat my whole life.