Fats and Queer Illustration Carried out Proper! R/J Assessment

Bear in mind our prior article about fats illustration in media and dialogue of the film The Whale? Let’s speak about illustration carried out proper! It was on a smaller scale and for a short run, however we wish to share all the nice moments with you! 

R/J was primarily based on Romeo and Juliet, a Shakespeare basic, however not the best way you may have seen it earlier than! It was fully rewritten by a duo of queer theater activists and featured fats, queer, trans, non-binary, and BIPOC actors.

R/J review fat and queer representation - Strand Theater Company
Picture by Strand Theater Firm

The Strand Theater Co situated in Baltimore, MD was the stage for among the best, most relatable, inclusive productions now we have ever witnessed.

Fats Illustration in R/J Delivered!

There have been so many poignant moments inside this present. Some of the related to our readers can be the scene the place Juliet, performed and created by Betse Lyons (she/her), discusses her experiences with fatphobia.

For some context, though there are some elements of this present that have been pulled from the Shakespeare script, there have been additionally additions of modern-day language, social media, and popular culture references, particularly inside the music choice. 

The subject of fatphobia comes up within the second half of the present. Juliet is informed by her lesbian mother and father that she goes to be pressured into a wedding with the princess, whom Juliet has recognized since they have been children.

R/J Review - Image by Strand Theater Company
Picture by Strand Theater Firm

Juliet describes how they was once very shut pals however as she hit puberty and her physique started to vary, the princess began to deal with her like she was invisible. She additionally goes on to speak about how romantic relationships trigger folks to get “bizarre” about their preferences.

Remember, that is delivered whereas her character is sporting a crop prime and skirt – essentially the most acceptable apparel to debate how fats girls are handled. 

In a following scene, Juliet’s mom proceeds to make a number of fatphobic feedback to her. “The princess has glorious cooks and private trainers.” “Possibly put on one thing that matches you.” “We are able to’t simply pull one thing in your measurement to put on.” 

We can not convey how seen the plus measurement of us within the viewers felt throughout these scenes, myself included. There have been audible gasps and a really vocal, visceral response from the viewers throughout these scenes.

R/J Review - Image by Strand Theater Company
Picture by Strand Theater Firm

How many people have felt invisible? How many people have had a romantic curiosity flip us down simply due to how we glance? How many people have heard those self same fatphobic feedback delivered so nonchalantly, as if we must always simply count on them? 

In line with the Strand Theater Company’s Facebook page, “Sadly, a lot of our society nonetheless thrives on ignoring the truth that fats our bodies exist. The stage isn’t any exception to this rule; in truth, it’s a main arbiter. Relying on the way you classify it, 40-70% of American adults are fats, and that demographic is painfully underrepresented on our phases. That is precisely why we created R/J, to present folks an opportunity to see simply how lovely it may be to permit marginalized our bodies to breathe new life into characters we thought we knew. Fats folks should have their tales informed.“

Queer and Trans Illustration in R/J

There was a completely beautiful second, additionally within the second half of the present, the place Romeo, performed and created by O’Malley Steuerman (they/thons), and Juliet take away their outer clothes earlier than going to mattress collectively.

This stood out as such a profound second as a result of Juliet was merely in a bra and underwear juxtaposed towards Romeo’s surgical scars from gender affirming surgical procedure (a typical surgical procedure for trans masc or non-binary people).

R/J Review- Image by Strand Theater Company
Picture by Strand Theater Firm

There was this second of acknowledgment about how all our bodies are lovely and completely deserving of love- trans our bodies, fats our bodies, queer our bodies, disabled bodies- each single particular person is worthy.

Romeo merely states, towards the start of the present, “I desire a love that makes me really feel like myself.” This was a line that doubtless hit house to loads of queer of us within the viewers. Primarily based on private expertise, popping out will be laborious.

Discovering who you might be and accepting your self could be a robust journey. Coping with outdoors judgement will be extremely troublesome. To seek out another person who has shared related struggles can actually make you’re feeling seen, understood, and make you snug sufficient to be your true genuine self.

The Strand Theater Firm’s Fb web page additionally states, “Queer love is vital. Queer love is all the pieces. Queer love is being seen and accepted, as nothing aside from your self.”

R/J Review - Image by Strand Theater Company
Picture by Strand Theater Firm

One other line of Romeo’s, “I didn’t know I might really feel this- that I may very well be glad.” That is one other that basically impacted the viewers. On the subject of any marginalized id, it’s implied that if you’re outdoors of society’s “commonplace,” that you could be by no means be really glad, you might by no means discover love.

That’s the concept that is ingrained into us rising up in a cis-het white Eurocentric magnificence standard-focused society. However that is one thing that loads of us develop to acknowledge isn’t really a common fact. You possibly can completely be glad and beloved regardless of what others declare.

When you may really be you and settle for your self for who you might be, that’s true happiness.

Why Plus Dimension and Queer Media Illustration Issues

R/J Review - Image by Strand Theater Company
Picture by Strand Theater Firm

Because of this illustration in media, and extra importantly good illustration, is so vital. A 2022 report discovered that regardless of most girls within the US being plus measurement, fats girls solely made up 6.7% of characters in the preferred movies during the last 10 years. An identical determine was discovered for the preferred TV reveals. 

A 2020 survey by GLAAD and P&G discovered that queer illustration elevated acceptance by as much as 45%. LGBTQIA+ illustration solely accounts for 6.7% of the highest 10 recurring forged members throughout the highest 300 broadcast, cable, and streaming reveals from 2019. It’s famous that Latinx and BIPOC femmes are underrepresented.

Intersectionality, the concept that completely different aspects of an individual’s id can have an effect on their privileges or disadvantages in life, is a crucial lens by which we must always analyze illustration. This may embody race, gender, and so on. and the way they overlap throughout programs of discrimination. Queer folks are available all shapes, sizes, and colours!

R/J Review - Image by Strand Theater Company
Picture by Strand Theater Firm

Think about for those who would have grown up with fats or queer or extra actors of coloration or trans actors as position fashions? Are you able to think about how many people wouldn’t really feel “othered” by our friends?

Are you able to think about how way more accepting society may very well be if we normalized all our bodies?

That is what we’d like! Extra inclusion of marginalized identities and our bodies throughout all media.

Extra About Strand

Strand Theater Company is the one brick-and-mortar, dwell theater venue in Baltimore Metropolis solely devoted to the work of amplifying girls’s voices onstage and off!

Positioned within the vibrant Hamilton-Lauraville neighborhood, Strand is a 501c3 non-profit that’s woman-owned and devoted to inclusivity, accessibility, and group. Need to study extra?