I was inspired to take this shot by Demi Lovato’s recent spontaneous body acceptance-based, no make-up, nude photoshoot. I liked how my eyes look. I feel pretty even though I still weigh over 200 pounds. Self acceptance is about who you are, not what’s happening.
What does Voice Acting Have to Do With Body Image?
I’ve been working hard on my voice acting and still love it. But I notice that despite my work and improvement I still don’t connect in a real way very easily. The minute I get on the mic I turn into the display model of a person vs. a real person. I can work through it eventually, but it’s a huge struggle. It’s a much bigger struggle than I’d like given how much I’ve learned thus far. I’ve been pondering and pondering, and it finally hit me. 50+ years of ignoring my body, of not liking who I am and disregarding feelings until ice-cream was available has put an automatic wall around me. It’s the mask I talk about on the show – only deeper.
I have come very far in the self acceptance department. But despite having a grand finale celebration to end the regular podcast series, my emotional growth is not complete. Which makes sense, since we are never finished as long as we draw breath. But even so, the sheer amount of my disconnect with my body is crazy making.
Haven’t We Heard All This Before?
Yes. I first discovered my body disconnect in my voice acting breathing. I had/have a resistance to letting my tummy relax so my diaphragm can function. I have soooooo trained myself to ‘suck it in’ 24/7. But from singing lessons and breathing lessons and practice, practice, practice, I can functionally connect with my body in front of the mic now.
What’s new is the depth of my emotional barriers. I realize that one of the hallmarks of my podcast was my emotional honesty. I pretty much told it like it was as much as possible. But even then, I was holding back. I really don’t want to expose my emotional underbelly aka the ‘real me’. And this is due to decades of self-protective habit.
One reason I was drawn to voice acting was so I don’t have to BE WHO I AM! I can be a dragon, a mother, a fairy queen, a customer service rep, a sexpot – anything, because in voice, I thought, I AM NOT LIMITED BY MY BODY! If I went before the camera to act, who could I be? The grandma? The frumpy lady buying detergent? But here’s the truth. Even at the age I am and the body I have, I could perform on stage as almost anything. I am the one limiting myself. I’m the one not feeling that I am enough. I am the one in my own way.
The Depth of This Problem
This is a really big problem. Just telling myself how great I am doesn’t get down to the bedrock of bad esteem. I believe I am lying when I say those positive things. Telling myself that ‘I am enough’ doesn’t cut it either. Because my compulsive brain can list 100 examples of where I didn’t get the job, the guy, the award, the promotion, the praise, the gold star. And knowing in my logical brain that nobody gets everything and that I have done some pretty great stuff and that I have a pretty great character doesn’t help either.
Because it ISN’T logical Laurie who blocks emotional reality. It’s original Laurie. The Laurie that first came into the world as herself and got hurt. I know, I know, artsy fartsy feely stuff, but it is true. Original Laurie doesn’t trust anyone or anything. AND original Laurie does not like the fact that podcast Laurie was spilling the beans all of the time AND original Laurie sure as hell doesn’t want to be vulnerable. Acting is fine as long as it is pretend. Another mask. A costume. But acting is NOT a costume. You need to allow yourself to shine through so it doesn’t feel fake to the audience. This is true on stage AND with your voice. You cannot hide. Your voice tells if you are smiling, if you are nervous, if you are seeing something, if you are speaking to a person or if you are stuck in a sound booth. To do well you have to risk being yourself for all to see/hear.
Here’s the Lesson
Know what? This isn’t only for voice acting. Many of us who struggle with food issues don’t want to connect with ourselves let alone risk showing ourself to others. We either hide ourselves behind some fat, or behind some control. But I think we hide ourselves through it all. I also think that for me, the bingeing represented one of the times the real person escaped.
Original Laurie could sure revel in some ice-cream! Ice-cream was rebellion and self love. It was letting myself be who I was for those few minutes. I was usually alone and safe and secret. I was allowing myself to want something, knowing it was in MY OWN POWER to meet that need. Usually it isn’t in my power. Usually my needs involve other people and boy, just me tell you, that didn’t work out well for original Laurie. So over all of these years I built walls. Fat/Diet walls, false people pleasing walls that didn’t allow the real me to count, walls of cut off emotions and distraction. My penchant for Survivor reruns is also a way to cut off. Right now I’m writing very close to the bone and it is scary. Why am I doing it you ask? Isn’t the show basically over? Why not slink back into privacy and let it go?
When in Doubt Get Brave
Tough to process that question. Let’s first take a break to admire my new warrior haircut!
Now back to my story…
From the new BCs who still write and call I know the podcast was and is powerful. I also know the episodes with the most power and that generate the most response are my vulnerable moments. The grand finales and extravaganzas are great in their own way, but the shows that truly touched people were the ones where I accidentally dropped the mask all of the way.
Acting is learning how to drop the mask in service to the story. It doesn’t matter if it is a grand scale tale like Lord of the Rings or selling detergent. I, the actor, must BELIVE what I am saying. And the way to get there is to access my true self. To access my true self I have to practice until it isn’t so scary that I will choke every time.
To that end, I met with an acting teacher – not voice acting, full on acting. I’m going to take a class and let my body be part of my world. I’m going to do whatever it takes to integrate original Laurie into my life, body and all, and let her be heard and take risks. I’m not even going to push acting on camera or stage to the side. I’m going to learn with an open heart and see what happens.
After all, Compulsive Overeating Diary started just that way, and look at how that turned out. I met all of you and learned that I made a difference. Original Laurie has to feel good about that.