Loving Your Body in a Looks-Oriented Industry

  • Shilo Nelson

Although the world of musical theatre is slowly becoming more diverse and inclusive, our look still plays an important part in casting. In some cases, being in an industry that places so much focus on your body can lead you down a dangerous path.

It took me years to love my short, slightly thicker body and to be perfectly honest; I'm still working on it.

The first step to loving your body is to take care of it. This is vital as a performer. Your body is your instrument. Performing is dependent on being in the best health that you can be. Treat your body well: eat well, get as much rest as you can (with such a physically demanding job, you need and deserve it.)

Do not compare yourself to others. Theatre is filled with good-looking people, and it's easy to wish that you looked more like someone else in your cast or the audition room. However, the beauty of it is that no performers are exactly alike. As a performer, you bring something to the role that nobody else can. This applies to your body as well as your performing. Take time to figure out what it is that you have to offer.

However, do notice others. Encourage them and build them up. A fellow performer recently told me that life is a great mirror. Noticing the beauty in others will help you to see it in yourself as well, and making negative comments on other people's looks only makes you more likely to focus on everything that you don't like about your own.

I like to make lists: things that my body allows me to do, things that I love about my body, things that define me more than my looks. It may seem silly and over the top, but after doing it repeatedly, it does help. I am fortunate that the dance studio I've been taking lessons for the past few years truly encourages body positivity.

As performers, body confidence may always be a struggle, but keep fighting back.