bad memories for science

Someone is doing a paper on sexism in gaming, and interviewed me for my own experiences. I love talking about gaming and my “career” in shoutcasting, and I loved giving my two cents on the whole scene. I shared my Big Sad Story (below) with him, and that – coupled with famed zombie fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld‘s comments about the glorious Adele being “a little too fat” – has brewed up a whole storm of Unexpected Saturday Morning Emotion: I am sad.

Originally posted on January 10, 2006 (half a post; the first half was unrelated):

On the last day of the event, I received some really lovely feedback from almost everyone I talked to. The companies I was working with are very excited about the gaming world, and want to see gaming take a huge step into the mainstream — sports channel coverage, TV shows, gaming channels, the whole nine yards. I did a great job over the weekend — my knowledge of the game is wonderful, I was able to really bring it home for the audience, I had them rolling in the aisles with my humour, my entire presentation and ability to think on the fly are simply incredible — if I keep up this kind of work, I could become the Face of Gaming!

But ..

Well ..

You can’t market Mama Cass.

I’m beautiful, I really am. The voice, the knowledge, the presentation, the face, the personality — it’s all perfect and great and just what they’re looking for. But you can’t market Mama Cass, you know. You’re a big girl, beautiful, but just too big. They want to put me on TV, make me the Face and Voice of Gaming, but you can’t market Mama Cass. Gaming is going to take off and be huge, so my goal should be to lose weight and work on the “total package” — I’d be perfect for the job, if only I were half the size. The little blond girl gamer that was on MTV, now SHE’S beautiful and has a great look and is traditionally pretty, but she’s terrible — tried to be funny and came across lame. Me, I’m a natural. And the size of Mama Cass, but a natural. I could be on TV and be like the TRL host, I could take video games to the next level, I could be a professional broadcaster, I’m almost there already — just get to that goal, and the world will be mine.

California dreaming, indeed.

I’m glad they liked me. I’m glad my personality sparkled the way I know it can, and I’m glad my commentary was well received. I would love to do this for a living — even more so, now that I no longer have a job — and have always been dedicated to the gaming communities and to providing coverage. It’s just a shame about my size, is all. I’d be so great, if only. You just can’t market Mama Cass.

Ouch.

I had fun, though.

My follow up was posted later that same day:

I’ve had a couple days now to process the whole “you can’t market Mama Cass” thing, and I’m trying to pinpoint what, exactly, is so upsetting about it.

It was a rude and somewhat baffling thing to say, but let’s be honest here. I’m never going to be anyone’s idea of willowy and slender. I’ll never be featured in the Victoria’s Secret catalogue, no one is going to start an online petition begging me to eat, and those size 0 pants will forever remain a tiny, tiny mystery. I’ve always been bigger than “normal”. My clothing is purchased from dimly lit back corners, from departments shamefully marked “Women Plus”, “Above Average”, “Bonus Sizes” and “Big Old Fatty Fat Fatcakes”. I’m zaftig. Voluptuous. Plump, robust, full-figured, meaty, oversized, well padded. Fat. I’m a big girl. Am I as big as Mama Cass was? No, I’m not. Was it a fair comparison? I don’t really think so. Am I going to spend the next month torturing myself over how ugly I am because one LA CEO doesn’t think I’m marketable? Probably. Some things will never change.

I’d love to do game casting professionally, even be on TV providing commentary for tournaments. It would be a great opportunity. Fame and fortune is the great North American dream, right? It’d be awesome. This could be my chance to make it big. I could have an entourage! I’d dress them in costumes and call them all Stan!

So why do I see it all as a bad thing? I’ve been called fat before, and although the “Mama Cass” touch was new, I can’t have honestly expected someone to say “You are incredible, let’s make a deal”. I know I don’t look like everyone else, and I kind of like it that way. The ultimate golden carrot is being dangled in my face. Why aren’t I reaching for it?

For starters, it’s not like I have a contract or really, anything other than a bizarre conversation at the end of a long week. There are no promises of anything concrete, just a large pile of conditional praise and fanciful plans that MIGHT work, maybe. Do I want to be a part of the scene when it goes mainstream? Definitely. Am I willing to change for that to happen? I could be. Do I think I’ll ever get my shot? Yeah, I do. Is this going to be it? I really doubt it.

Say I lose 100lbs and become incredibly unhealthy, lose all my curves, stop menstruating, and suddenly be a marketable superstar. That’s all it’ll take, right? Except what do I do when they say “gosh, you’re perfect, you’re talented, you’re built like an 8 year old boy .. if only you weren’t so short!”. Okay, I could wear heels. What next? Too old? Too Asian? Not Asian enough? Too Canadian? I’ve seen the kind of person that passes for marketable and appealing on TV. Nothing anyone could do to me could turn me into another OC Laguna Beach clone, and I’m actually okay with that.

Everyone wants to be loved and accepted for who they are, not told “you’re awesome, amazing, wonderful, beautiful, BUT ..”. If I change my body, I’ll do it for myself — not for some company that wants to base my worthiness on my dress size. I live in a fantasy world, and in that world my rather specialized talents are enough to open all those fancy doors that people like me don’t normally get into. I’m willing to wait for someone who thinks I’m great as I am and not for what I might be as long as I compromise on my principles. I *AM* beautiful and talented and have a sparkling personality. I also have a giant fat ass and a sudden dislike for golden carrots. Maybe my break into superstardom will take longer than a year, but when it comes, it’ll be because I’m awesome and not because I’m invisible when I turn sideways.

An excerpt from the Mama Cass Wikipedia entry:

“Elliot was widely considered the most charismatic member of the Mamas & the Papas due to her sense of humor and optimism, in part because of her large size and weight. She was one of the most beloved members of the group and, because of her warm, distinctive voice, was a large factor in their success.”

Wham, bam, shazam.

It’s been 6 years, and every time I ever think I could follow my passion to become a Someone, I think back to that conversation and shrink back into myself. The men who said that to me likely never gave it another thought, but I’ve lived with their words every fucking day since then. That conversation was the beginning of the end of my shoutcasting career – things moved away from audio-over-footage and was replaced by video to resemble pro sports coverage; during match breaks the camera would be on the commentators as they discussed the game and players. I ran away then – it’s hard to have “a face (body, in this case) for radio” when there’s a camera on you. Add in the entitled mentality of teenage gamers who don’t want to be forced to look at a fat person and the horrible, horrible things they would say .. I kept myself off camera; stopped doing something I loved with all my soul. Because I was fat. Because I was afraid. Because you can’t market Mama Cass.

game over

2 thoughts on “bad memories for science

  1. I don’t want you to lose 100 pounds and stop menstruating! Especially not the menstruating! I don’t think I’ve ever loved any fat girl more, and for the record you CAN market Mama Cass; her voice was what made the Mamas and the Papas a success, just as your own makes you one.

  2. Pingback: mmxii in review « delicious juice dot com: unapologetically inappropriate

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