When the “Shrill” script called for actress Katie Wee to call the show’s star Aidy Bryant a “fat bitch,” she didn’t know if she could take the gig.
“My first thought was that there was absolutely no way I could say those words to anyone, and I couldn’t go on this audition,” Wee wrote in a first-person essay for HuffPost, published on Friday. “I assumed my plethora of issues around weight and body image would render me too encumbered to play someone who seemed so free in her ability to dole out damage.”
In the essay entitled, “What I Learned From Playing A Brutal Fat-Shamer On TV,” Wee reveals that she suffered from anorexia and obsessive eating habits as a young teen and also in her 20s after she was told she didn’t have the “body for ballet,” by an instructor. The harsh criticism led to her weighing herself multiple times a day and low self-esteem.
So when it came time to play a trainer dubbed “Toned Tonya” in a scene where Bryant’s character contemplated taking a flyer for a workout class, Wee drew parallels to her own life.
“While I would never call someone else a fat bitch, I had been calling myself one most of my life,” she said. “Sadly, fat-shaming self-talk has been a huge part of my own inner dialogue.”
Reciting the harsh line, in the audition process and at the show’s table read, didn’t come naturally, but Wee recalled Bryant and the series’ cast being supportive and telling her to “go for it,” in her delivery.
Wee, who is also a fitness instructor at the celeb-fave studio Rise Nation, also spoke to navigating the influence of the fitness industry and its ideals of “healthy.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone wail, ‘I am so FAT,’ with a look of misery and hopelessness,” she said. “I’ve said this too and am not proud.”
While filming her harsh line which was changed from “F–k you, you fat bitch,’ to ‘I was just trying to help you, you fat bitch,’ as Bryant’s character dismisses her not-so-nice advice, it resulted in a lightbulb moment for Wee.
“It was clear to me in this moment that hurt people hurt people,” she said. “I saw a beautiful happy person who was not thin, and I called her a ‘fat bitch,’ but somewhere inside Tanya’s brain or mine there was also a deep jealousy for this woman who seemed to have accepted herself and rejected a belief we held up so high that being thin was imperative.”
Since filming the series that premiered last year, Wee said that she’s taken a different approach to teaching fitness.
“I am also more careful with the authority I previously didn’t even know I yielded; I am mindful of my responses when clients tell me they think they need to lose weight,” she said. “I try to remind them that they are wonderful just as they are, regardless of their weight or fitness level.”
“Shrill” has been renewed for a second season.
Source: Read Full Article