Gordas : fat Latinas taking the stage
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In Gordas:Fat Latinas Taking the Stage I analyze the performances of Jennylin Duany’s Cabaret Unkempt, Nancy Millán’s La Mujer Invisible, and Victoria Grise and Irma Mayorga’s The Panza Monologues in order to illustrate how, by performing their subjectivities as fat women of color, Duany, Millán, and Grise empower themselves. I argue that by sharing personal stories in performance, these artists critique and challenge weight-based stereotypes. Furthermore, they reveal the intersections between the construction of fatness and gender, race and sexuality. Further, I investigate how these performers utilize autobiographical performance to open spaces for critical dialogue about how the fat body is constructed in the U.S. These artists illustrate the ways in which autobiographical performance is uniquely suited to alliance building. More specifically, in Cabaret Unkempt Duany elevates Jenny, her performance persona, to diva status, thereby accessing an alternative and subversive space where the typically devalued Black fat body is centered, desired, and unattainable. Then through poetry, confessional monologue, and dance Duany invites the audience to see her body as whole, beautiful, and virtuosic. In La Mujer Invisible, a confessional rock concert, Millán shares personal anecdotes about growing up and becoming a professional actress that imbedded in her the belief that she needed to lose weight in order to achieve her personal and professional goals. She goes on to trouble ideas of race, mental health, and worthiness. Grise and Mayorga use the panza (“belly”) as a metaphor for the body that reveals the socio-political realities of being Chicana. I assert that by sharing personal stories and placing their fat, racialized bodies center stage, these performers reclaim their value as artists and human beings. In so doing, they make themselves visible and reveal the intersectionality of the construction of fatness with gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. Finally, they become transformative agents by encouraging the audience to recognize and examine their own prejudices, and to become allies against fat stigmatization.