THEATRE: My Weight and Why I Carry It
Review by CASEY LUDICK
“Slay!” shouts someone in the audience as Tasmin Sherman reveals her bikini-clad body.
For many women, weight is a contentious subject, hence the ubiquitous question: “Do I look fat in this?” or some variation thereof. How you feel about your body changes how you interact with the world. Add the burden of unrealistic expectations created by advertising and the media, and fertile ground for insecurity and psychological damage is laid.
My Weight and Why I Carry It addresses this issue, with Sherman playing the character of Vic Woode in this one-woman show about bodily acceptance through a self-reflective story of how Woode came to present herself as entertainment for strangers.
Her story speaks to the insecure and unseen inner child who grew up as the fat kid in a family of fitness fanatics and within a broader society in which Kate Moss felt free to say, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”.
Both funny and gut-wrenching as Sherman engages us clad in nothing but a skimpy bikini and a spotlight, with a sense of mourning as she addresses generational trauma and the silent violence prevalent in squads of preteen girls, revealing the many facets of fatphobia and her fraught relationship with food from childhood through early adulthood.
We adored her in all her bikini-ed glory, affirming the natural beauty of plumpness, at the same time vulnerable in her need for love and acceptance of her physicality in the face of extreme criticism by family and peers; ‘looking good’ in a bikini a vital part of acceptance. There were moments when tears welled in her eyes and ours as she embodied Woode and various side characters. Clearly, some of the material is drawn from Sherman’s own experience.
By letting us into her world, Sherman succeeds in flipping the script: skinny people are praised simply because they aren’t overweight. This privilege of acceptance is often little more than a happy coincidence, whether through nature or nurture.
My Weight and Why I Carry It is on at the National Arts Festival until 27 June.