From Hattie to Halle : an autoethnographic exploration of a black actress performing weight loss
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] This dissertation uses autoethnography to explore the performance of weight loss both on the stage and off, identifying three levels of metaphysical ambiguity that occurred after losing nearly 100 pounds when I was selected for a young, beautiful leading role in Holding Up the Sky and as the character Rose Maxson in August Wilson's Fences. Though I was much smaller, I was mentally living in the space of a morbidly obese person. To effectively portray the leading roles in my new thin body, three unique levels of affectation occurred; 1) the morbidly obese psyche cognitively recognized the new body acting as the slender person, 2) the slender person performed as the actress, and 3) the actress performed the character. Thus, I first convinced myself that I was appropriate for the roles because my physical body was now smaller. Then, I effectively performed the slender actress that was preparing to portray the characters. Lastly, I portrayed the roles well enough that the audience invested in and believed in my characters as a small person. Building upon anthropologist Victor Turner's model of social dramas which involves a breach, crisis, redress and reintegration, and an article written by Lesa Lockford titled, "Social Drama in the Spectacle of Femininity: The Performance of Weight Loss in the Weight Watchers Program," this dissertation addresses the enormous pressures of maintaining weight loss for performance located within liminal spaces and the presence of American societal thin privilege through the lens of a black actress.
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