BOTTOM LINE: This quirky, courageous story of one woman's journey to self-acceptance is a must-see for your teens and tweens.
Before Margaux Laskey – the star and writer of Size Ate – takes the stage, the mostly female audience is bombarded with unsettling ad images and photographs through a projector that accurately (if not uncomfortably) depict our culture's obsession with body image and being thin. But what I feared could be an hour-long bleak dissertation on the "weighty" topic was instead a touching - even funny – personal account of a very real issue in a very real woman.
Unconventional in her story telling, Laskey uses song, poetry, and reenactments to paint the picture of her former self on "a futile quest for perfection," and she is instantly captivating (thankfully – this is a one-woman show, after all). What is most impressive about Laskey is not her ability to multi-task (she belts out a song about whittling down to a size two while tap dancing) or somehow make humorous the crippling effects of an eating disorder (at thirteen she recounts being elated that a therapist diagnoses her as anorexic, because after all, models are anorexic, beautiful people are anorexic) but rather the innate, relatable quality that she possesses. By the end of the show I felt like I had lived through the isolating, all-consming aspects of the disease myself, and judging by the audience's grunts throughout the show in agreement or acknowledgement, it's safe to say that I'm not the only one left feeling this way.
Through Laskey's equal-parts-humorous-and horrific-recounting of experiences, she reveals, that "possibilities for your happiness, for your life, are limitless" and not dependent upon your dress size. This is an important message for anyone who has ever equated their self-worth with their weight. Moreover, Laskey's story is one that needs to be told, especially to those who are just beginning a lifelong journey with their bodies and figuring out their place in this world. Awareness of the causes and effects of eating disorders is key, and when told by someone who has actually lived and breathed it at a size 0 and a size 16 (and all those sizes in between), it is incredibly powerful and honest. I believe that theatre should start a conversation, and that is exactly what this piece will spark between young girls and their teachers, mothers, family and friends.
While the show's run in New York is over, Laskey is taking her story back on the road to places where I think it needs to be told most – to students. She will be performing Size Ate at Arizona State University in February 2010 as part of Body Pride Week. Visit the show's website for upcoming scheduling information at sizeate.com.