Have you been told you need to lose weight?
I mean, by someone other than your doctor?
Physical image has become a huge part of our business - theatre, music theatre AND opera.
However, losing "10 pounds" because someone in casting said so, doesn't make it so!
What does that even mean???
Gentlemen, my apologies right away - I am addressing this toward the women as I have more experience there! I hope you can translate for your gender! Some of these ideas can translate comfortably!
Fine, if you need to lose actual inches/fat, then definitely get healthy. But, if you are one of those size 4 - 6 girls (sorry gentlemen - insert your size here) and are told you need to lose 10 pounds, I will highly suggest you need to re-think what that means.
Know your body type. Here's a start: http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/body-types-ectomorph-mesomorph-endomorph.html
Here's an interesting body type questionnaire: http://www.liverdoctor.com/body-type-questionnaire/
Even though they are selling supplements, ignore that and get some very good information if you answer as honestly as you can!
Another great site that gives you more is here: http://www.youbeauty.com/quizzes
Your body type, your BMI, where you carry your weight, your muscle density, your bone size - needs to be taken into consideration.
Women, your SHAPE is your shape: Pear, hourglass, circle, ruler, triangle, inverted triangle - whatever it is, is YOURS. You want to figure out what that is, embrace it and find out what you need.
How tall are you? What are your porportions? Are your legs long or short? Is your torso long or short? Limbs? Are you curvy? Are you bootyliscious? Are you flat on all sides?
If you are curvy - you are CURVY. That is how you are, and frankly, from one curvy lady to another, thank god! So play up the curves, don't hide them.
If you actually need to lose weight - as in FAT - (yes, I do...and I will...it's work, but I am the only one who can do it!) then DO IT. But don't lose weight if you don't really need to from a medical standpoint.
Why? You aren't losing for the right reasons. If a casting person or a director says "get in the best shape you can get into" that's one thing. If someone says "you should lose 10 pounds" - again I ask "what is 10 pounds?!?!?!"
So, the MAGIC of 10 pounds, if you really don't need to lose it, or only have 10 to lose is how you dress. Seriously.
If you are shorter, or have shorter legs and a longer torso - often the lack of height can then seem "thicker" if you aren't dressing correctly for an audition.
Follow the age-old idea of creating the longest line possible. If you have shorter legs and more curvy bum/thighs, then tight jeans and knee high boots and a shirt that cuts across your hips will actually make you look bulkier and will make you look like you have 10 pounds to lose! Especially in the audition room!
Unless you have legs to your armpits, you don't want to break up the line!!
First things first: What are the best things about your body? What do you want to accent? great legs? a small waist? an hourglass figure? fabulous hair? intoxicating eyes? flawless skin?
Write down THREE things. Trust me, you have at LEAST 3 things you can show off!!
Now - how you create length for your body and silouette to accent these things? The eye should not get stuck on anything you don't want to highlight! How do you claim those fabulous things about you and keep the eye moving?
THIS sense of sillouette and structure will make the difference between 10 pounds, and NO pounds.
Remember that old sweater you've had in your closet forever? And everytime you wear it, someone compliments you on how great you look? REMEMBER THAT for the audition room! You need those colors that look great on you!
If you want to accent something, the color should be more vivid. If you want to disguise something, or draw attention away and beyond it, it should be a darker color. Darker colors tend to be more slimming. Monochromatic colors are elongating as well.
Remember that if you truly don't need to lose weight medically, or much at all, losing weight will lose muscle mass. Losing muscle means weakening your support system.
You are an athlete - as a singer and as an actor and as a dancer. You need to be strong! You have to have the muscle strength to support your body, your breath, your voice! If you take that away, your craft suffers.
This doesn't give us the excuse to gain weight for no reason - but losing weight in an unhealthy way will not help you AFTER you booked the show! You might do the audition, but you may not be able to endure what your voice and your body have to do in a role. We see this so much, and more lately in opera when singers are losing weight too quickly and cannot sustain what they did vocally prior to the weight loss.
So, figure out your body type. Figure out your body "stuff". Figure out what you want to have noticed, and what you don't want noticed.
If you are told "you need to lose weight" or "you need to lose 10 pounds" - consider first how you are physically presenting yourself in the room. Invest in a stylist appointment, or personal shopper who can help you find what works for your body and your skin tone. Invest in a good hair cut and a makeup lesson! ENHANCE you, don't starve you!
Forget the pounds, and concentrate on getting STRONG, on building endurance and stamina. Concentrate on toning, and tightening; on lengthening, and strengthening!
Dress that body to match what you want to reveal in the audition room about YOU! YOU are the magic - so lead with that - in a package that enhances and doesn't distract!
No matter your size, claim it, and commit to it. TRUST your body. Treat it with respect and give it as many possibilities as you do your craft and artistry!
Get healthy and strong - physically, vocally and mentally! Lead with that!
Edited to add some more links to give you ideas of dressing to be 10 pounds thinner!!!
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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