Tuesday, September 6, 2011

FAT PIG: Some of the Issues

Fat Pig is the second of a trilogy of LaBute plays that deals with sexual attraction and appearances. There are many issues that this play raises directly—some more strongly than others.

The relationship between body type and beauty alone raises complex questions, particularly in a very visual, very appearance-conscious age. While standards of female beauty have changed over time, and have been different according to cultures, the prevailing fashion favors slimness—to unrealistic and unhealthy extremes, some say.

The questions about appearance are especially consequential these days because of widely available surgeries that can radically change appearance. Some advocate different standards of beauty. In addition to acting, Leonard Nimoy (known to millions as Mr. Spock) is a photographer who published several books with the theme of female beauty. When he was challenged to see beauty in larger women, he responded with another set of photographs that inspired discussion.

For some, the prejudice against “plus size” people is akin to prejudice based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual preference. Widening the field to these categories raises still more questions about the practice as well as theory of personal and sexual preferences.  There are college courses in "Fat Studies" that may discuss all of these issues, sometimes in an advocacy context.

Then there are the health issues. Obesity is epidemic in America, with human and economic consequences including much higher incidences of diabetes and other diseases, and increased heart problems even in children.

Social pressure and the opinions of peers are major issues in this play.  Again, they may be relevant to different but at least somewhat analogous situations.

Fat Pig is about four characters and how they deal with a situation that raises these issues. Because the play presents us with their specific responses, we can approach these issues in human terms.

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