I haven’t really written about this yet, so it may take a few posts to sort it out.  Bear with me – we’ll see.

My weight and my gender identity have long danced a lurid tango.  Add to the dance a third partner who keeps cutting in – my profession as an actor. It makes for some junky starts and stops, to be sure, and an occasional spectacular wipeout.

Over a year ago when I moved back to LA to finally confront my demons and focus on performing as a career, obviously the first issue that brought me to my knees was my weight. I was really heavy. Not obese-looking, but if you were to put my stats into any of those fancy BMI online calculators (the pinnacle of science, I’m sure), they basically told me that I would make a better orca than actor.  Yes I’m almost 6′ tall, but I’m in my (cough) very late 20s and I was topping 230. It smarts to even type that out.

And then there was the psycho-weight-culture in Los Angeles/Southern California – a culture I had actively run from back when I didn’t have a weight problem to worry about.

It was a mighty stiff cocktail of self-loathing.

But! But! Wasn’t the whole point of moving here the fact that I didn’t look like anyone else?  Wasn’t the fact that I looked like a huge butch dyke the whole reason for this crazy life challenge?  And weren’t the parts I was cast in all looking for “stereotypical, butch, heavy, lesbians”? (More on the ridiculousness of this stereotype later – it’s SO related to these issues, but one thing at a time…)

Even at that time, though, all the pieces formed a rather skewed whole – sure, I was heavy and masculine looking, but my baby face and pretty eyes gave me away as too young for most 30-something parts.  And I was big, but apparently not big enough.  What could I do?

I started then, a year ago March, on a journey with my body that will probably last my entire life. If I’m honest with myself (rarely), it’s a journey I’ve been on, but I’ve been hiding all the maps and provisions from myself for many years now.

My size has long been a stamp of my butchness.  I think subconciously I’ve always related being heavy-set with being “manly”.  My dad’s a big guy who’s struggled with his weight his entire life.  I think, aside from my tendencies towards physical laziness (I prefer “efficiency”) and stress-eating, I gained so much weight in my early twenties because I was masking my femininity, literally covering my feminine body with whatever padding I could find.  Usually in the form of chocolate peanut butter Haagen Daaz.

I was in NYC. I was going to auditions daily where every other woman in the room was 5’6″, long-haired,well-heeled, and overly makeup-ed. I was working on painting and electrics crews with either superfags or musclemen, but I’ve never been a girl who’s “one of the guys”. So I was just a weird girl with short hair, who got bigger and bigger because the only way I could claim my space was, apparently, to take up more of it.

And then I was too heavy to keep acting. In NYC at least, in musicals and plays looking for “charming 20s, girl-next-door types”.  So I quit. I didn’t admit at the time that I quit because I was fat, but really that was key.

And now, I’m reversing that decision every day. But I’m forced to confront everything I’ve been avoiding.  My body. My gender. The ludicrousness of the media’s representation of lesbians. My difference from those representations.

I’ve lost almost 50 pounds, so I’m not getting cast as the “heavy butch” anymore.  It’s just me now, out here. Putting myself out here, beyond the stereotype.

Some days I miss my protective covering.  (But -it must be said – without the double chin.)

Tell me: Do other heavy butches feel like their weight is a protective measure? It may be too simple a question, I know, but I feel like it needs to be asked.