Can I live? That seems to be the question and statement three women poets pose when envisioning the catalyst of what would become Live Big Girl, a poetic play that takes viewers on a journey of what it means to live in a body not often celebrated by society’s standards of beauty and sexuality. Live Big Girl, directed by Award Winning Spoken Word Artist Peggy Robles Alvarado and featuring the diverse voices of Vanessa Chica, Karina G-Lopez and Rebeca Lois Lucret dares to challenge the fetishization, body shaming and disposability of women of girth or as Vanessa Chica boldly reclaims in one scene, fat girl. It is not in the naming of one thing as the pejorative but what happens when the reclamation of everything big bodied women built like cathedrals turn into the affirmative. This is what Live Big Girl does. It is the long-winded buxomly exhale of finally proclaiming you were not born to shrink yourself to fit the small-mindedness of people who pretend not to see you.
I’m more than just a size. Did you not know this or did you not notice? – Karina G-Lopez
Live Big Girl goes beyond the hashtags of body positivity and selfies and delves into the deeply rooted ethos of intergenerational trauma and how it creates an unrealistic ideal disproportionate to how big girls show up in the world. In one monologue Karina explores her relationship with food from an early age when she would share a late night meal with her Father after he would arrive home from work and long after her Mother shunned a second helping. Often wondering why her Father and brothers were allowed to eat at their will and her serving never matched her appetite.
In another scene which takes place in the dressing room of a woman’s clothing store, Rebeca finds herself haranguing over the inaccessibility of clothing that serves as both functional and flattering, accurately detailing the stores’ layout as fashionable in the front and frumpy in the back. A disparaging conundrum that only exacerbates the non-inclusive territory full-bodied women have to navigate even when wanting to feel their most fly.
There seems to be a funhouse mirror in the dressing room that distorts my image- Rebeca Lois Lucret
Can I live? Sometimes the question is painstakingly literal. It is the delicate tethering of memories Vanessa Chica constantly revisits after routine checkups to her Doctor turn into a Q&A. “The Doctor asks have I tried to lose weight, and I sit there paper gown of embarrassment. Have I tried to lose weight?!” a clear misconception that overweight people have no desire to maintain healthy lifestyles. During one particular scene, the weight of morbidity bears down on Vanessa as she conjures the energy of her late Mother who succumbed to her own illnesses.
It is in this directive that Vanessa is at her most vulnerable and her guttural reaction of never being able to regain lost time is palpable. It is the definitive moment that brings Live Big Girl full circle because it centers life in its totality. How we measure it. How we rise to the occasion of embodying our best selves. How we must always live big. Big like the legacies of our predecessors.
Tank of a woman, melt into yourself. You are more than their opinions. Become tsunami. Drown them. -Live Big Girl
Vanessa, Karina and Rebeca never shy away from their lived experiences as self-proclaimed gorditas and embarking on this theatrical journey was the beginning of reclamation, of ownership. A very public way of humanizing their insecurities in the digital age of picture-perfect social media feeds and “taking back their bodies from the mouths of critics”. Live Big Girl opens at the National Black Theater December 2nd for one night only. Tickets are available and can be purchased on eventbrite.
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