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“Fat Pig”: A Play with Great Personality

With the need to fit society’s standard of perfection in the United States, Thirteen o’Clock Theatre has produced a show that makes the audience take a long, hard look at themselves.

Fat Pig, an award-winning play written by Neil LaBute, is about a successful and good-looking man named Tom who meets and falls in love with Helen, an extremely overweight librarian. His co-workers, Carter and Jeannie, tease him for it, and it’s something he struggles with throughout the course of the show.

Running every weekend in November, this production put a spotlight on those who have difficulty accepting those who are not “the norm.” It is unabashed in its language and dialogue, and does not shy away from calling Tom what he really is: a coward.

Marco Munoz, the director of Fat Pig, sat down at the Thirteen o’Clock rehearsal studio and spoke about what the show is and how it will hopefully start a conversation in the Valley.

“It’s a raw telling of a story that is often lived but never told,” Munoz said. “It should hopefully get the audience talking about how ridiculous these judgements we cast upon each other are, and also get them to look at themselves and honestly ask how often they do the same.”

Tom genuinely loves Helen, and wants nothing more than to make her happy, but everyone and everything around him prevents him from allowing himself to not care what anyone has to say about being with her. He ultimately tells her he cannot handle all that people are going to keep throwing at him, and leaves her on the beach brokenhearted.

Virginia Jimenez, the lead actress who plays Helen, discussed her character and what working on this show has done for her during the brief talk-back held after performances at the theater space.

“It was challenging at first, but I like being able to play a character that is so relatable to so many people,”  Jimenez said. “She has this confidence, yet she is constantly judged by society because of her looks.”

The pressures put on us by advertising, TV, movies and the media in general are all conducive to a judgmental populous, which the United States definitely has. How many people have we not allowed ourselves to love just because their aesthetic was not generally “normal” by the media’s standards?

Interestingly enough, all the characters in the show struggle with self-image and insecurities except for Helen. Fat Pig’s heroine, though not living up to everyone’s idea of what she should look like to be considered “pretty,” is confident and sure in herself, which makes the ending of the show all the more heartbreaking.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the McAllen-Edinburg-Pharr areas in the Rio Grande Valley are the most obese in the country, with a rate of 44.7% of residents being overweight. Because these areas are also among the poorest in the nation, this issue is something that is not going away anytime soon.

Fat Pig isn’t about Helen’s weight. It’s about not being afraid to let yourself love someone else, even if they don’t fit the standard mold set by film, television and advertising. Tom not allowing himself to fully be with and stay with Helen because of her weight can be applied to many things – looks, age, sexuality all come into play, and how people view them may inadvertently hinder our true feelings.

Drawing in a major audience every week, Fat Pig was definetely a must-see production. Many left the show contemplating the true natures of the characters,  and more importantly, reflected on themselves and who they were… and who they want to be.

 

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