How to Have a Healthy Relationship With Your Main Instrument: Your Body

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Content warning: The following article contains mentions of disordered eating.

Q: How can I improve my self-esteem and body image?

“Even though you may feel pressure to have a ‘perfect’ body as an actor, the truth is that this is not a requirement. If anything, focusing on maintaining or achieving a perfect body detracts from the trajectory of your career. If you’re at an audition and you’re distracted by the way your thighs look, you can’t fully focus on your character’s wants and needs. Furthermore, if you’re restricting your food, you’ll be hungry and weak during an audition or rehearsal. You can’t properly do your work in this state. Ask yourself: Is this useful? Is focusing on diet and weight loss before your next audition a good use of your time and energy? Or would doing practice auditions be better?” Kate Huffman

“Performers seem to be at a higher risk for developing eating disorders due to the level of perfectionism and drive one must possess to succeed in showbiz, as well as the public body scrutiny. Food, or lack thereof, can give a sense of control or a means of ‘checking out’ as a way to cope with stress. If you’ve struggled with an eating disorder in the past or have a predisposition to one, it’s worth keeping an eye on how you’re relating to food. Some signs to watch out for include trying to numb yourself with eating, excessively thinking about food, avoiding eating or being very rigid with what you allow yourself to eat, or eating in secret. If you notice any of these behaviors or thoughts coming up, be sure to seek help. Look for a registered dietitian, therapist, or physician who specializes in eating disorders.” Libby Parker 

This story originally appeared in the Jan. 27 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.

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Libby Parker
Libby Parker, MS, RD, CDN, is an actress, registered dietitian, and author of “Permission To Eat: a practical guide to working yourself out of an eating disorder during college, while celebrating the awesomeness that is you!” Libby works with individuals and groups to recover from eating disorders and have their best health on, and off, stage.
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Kate Huffman
Kate Huffman is an award-winning actor/playwright and a certified body image coach. Her work in film, TV, and theater (“Fresh Off the Boat,” “Castle”) has won her an LA Weekly Theatre Award, Encore Producers Award, and several LADCC nominations. She’s written, performed, and directed sketch comedy at UCB, Second City, iO Chicago, and countless other venues. Her award-winning solo show, “I’m Too Fat for This Show,” has been seen in cities across the globe.
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