Pretty, hot and tempting: Phat Girls tackles self-image

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Many individuals face body image obstacles every day of their lives while searching for the “perfect” body type. Some of these struggles include weighing too much or too little, diet pill addiction, eating disorders and exercising.

Through shows May 1-3, Applied Theatre and the Center for Gender Equity raised awareness of this issue by performing “Phat Girls,” an episodic play by Debbie Lamedman about women facing a world obsessed with appearance.

In the first minutes of the play, the audience was shown a slideshow of visuals related to the idea of body image. From photos of models with visible ribs and thin arms, to personifications of body dysmorphic disorder, to the trendy concept of “thigh gaps,” the taboo of talking about eating disorders was attacked.

The audience was then introduced to a series of episodes featuring different women and their struggles with their own bodies. It begins in a childhood scene where a female character is insulted by her peers about her weight and taunted about “needing to wear a bra.”

The show then fast-forwarded adolescence and adulthood, where the audience was taught that triggers to self-esteem issues and eating disorders can happen in different situations.

First there is a group of girls determined to fit in a certain size of clothing, followed by struggles of diet pill addiction and self-starvation.

Despite the lack of continuity between scenes, there was one main character: the suit-adorning Mr. Horrible, a masculine personification of all the negative thoughts and internal feelings that each girl had suffered through during their lives.

By the end of the play, the voice of Mr. Horrible was silenced and replaced by a feminine, more compassionate personification of the women, rising above what is perceived as beautiful.

Following intermission, the second half of the production consisted of a question-answer session, with Pacific counselors speaking with students about the different themes they saw in this play. This brought out the realism of the production, and reminded the audience that the issue isn’t over when the curtains go up.

“Phat Girls” was effective in getting its point across on what women must face each day. In each of its three shows, it truly described the meaning behind the acronym of PHAT: pretty, hot and tempting.


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