Tag Archive | Hollywood

In The Eye of the Hurricane

I know a staggering number of successful people. I often can’t believe it, like, is this normal? I don’t think so. And they’re all people I grew up with in one way or another, meaning I knew them at the beginning of their journeys and have watched their success unfold. High school, college, or right after college. I won’t drop names; that’s not what this is about. I’m not here to brag; I’m here to marvel. It’s just insane. Movie stars. Plural. Broadway stars. Yeah, plural. Novelists. TV stars. Directors. Designers. Comedians. Screenwriters. All plural.

I’ve managed to narrow down a few reasons for this. The first is the potent creative energy of Sacramento circa the turning of the century (it probably continues to this day but I haven’t lived there for many years so I can’t speak to it). Lots of folks from my little theatre community in my little town have gone on to much commercial success. I can’t really explain why our fair city turns out so much talent, except to say that Sacramento is awesome. As a city it is, for the most part, free from industry pressure, which creates a fertile environment for growing creative wings—the only pressure being the desire to one day go out and spread them.

The second reason I can explain. I went to a prestigious conservatory for undergrad. Notable grads include Julianne Moore, Alfre Woodard, Geena Davis, Uzo Aduba, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Alexander, Marissa Tomei. Lots more. The odds that someone from my class or a surrounding class would go on to join this list was always high. The time has come, and now that’s happening, and again I marvel.

The third reason is living in L.A. If you live here long enough and have even a peripheral relationship to the industry, and you’re not a jerk, you will eventually either become or befriend greatness.

I’m not jealous. Merp. Sniff. Sigh. No really, I’m not.

No seriously, I’m not. I’m amazed. I’m proud. I don’t know if it’s normal for a little gal like me to be surrounded by so much greatness. I stand here, still, as all this creative success swirls around me. My jaw drops and I’m smiling, and yes I fluff my feathers a little bit that I happen to know these people.

But I’m so still. I’m watching it all happen around me, and I don’t seem to move.

In the eye of a hurricane
There is quiet
For just a moment
A yellow sky.

I wonder what’s coming for me? Will I continue to walk along in the middle of the storm, quietly, admiring its madness from my calm seat in the center? Will I be pulled in at some point? Sometimes I dip a toe in to see what it feels like. Sometimes it feels good, and sometimes it feels overwhelming. It does look like fun, though. One helluva storm. I like rain. Will I be pulled in or will I have to jump? It’s not my style, jumping into things. I wait for windows. I tiptoe in and let the wind help. Then I fly. That always works out better for me.

I’ll keep sitting here, amazed, and I’ll keep writing. It’s a really very nice place to write, in the eye of a hurricane. Quiet. A yellow sky. One of these days, when the winds are right, I’ll write my way out.

hurrican

What Running Taught Me About Body Positivity… It’s All In the Mind

The prompt for National Running Day was “I run to _____.” I actually just had a little wave of anxiety as I typed, thinking about sharing the reasons that I run. The reasons are deeply personal, however publicly I talk about running. Personal, and innumerable, so maybe I’ll try to distill it all down to one basic idea. I run to connect my body to my soul.

I grew up an incredibly confident girl on the inside, with incredible self-loathing for her outsides. I hated my body. Hate is a strong word. Not strong enough. I developed at a young age in all the wrong ways according to a hormonal pre-teen. Big butt, thick thighs, flat chest. Boys didn’t like me, girls didn’t relate to me. I wasn’t athletic. I wasn’t skinny. I wasn’t necessarily fat either. I was the word I’ve come to hate more than almost any in the English language – chubby. I was chubby. And it’s not cool to be chubby as a kid.

So I grew up hating my outsides and wishing for new ones, while simultaneously loving life, being social, feeling creative and insightful, and in general enjoying the human soul that was developing as Becky Sigl. I was very conscious of this strange dichotomy. How could I be so confident and so insecure at the same time? Mind-body disconnect. You’ve all felt it.

Along came running. I began running as early as 6th grade but didn’t stick with it in earnest until my college years. During that time I felt more pressure than ever to somehow achieve the body that I THOUGHT would match my awesome inside self (don’t believe everything you think). Safe in my college incubation bubble, I knew that once thrust into the “real world” the clock began. It’s tough for women in Hollywood and if you don’t jump in the Hollywood Double Dutch game when you’re a kid, then you better be ready again when you’re a young twenty-something still young enough to play high school and college. If you miss THAT turnoff and you’re not “smokin’ hot” or super charactery then you may as well wait around until you’re old enough to play the Mom. I realize I sound very cynical and no one is obligated to subscribe to these silly rules. You can pave your own way and you should! But the pressure. It’s brutal.

So there I was, 21, getting ready for the real world, and I thought to myself constantly “I have to lose weight. I have to lose weight. I have to lose weight.” The only time I didn’t think these thoughts was on the running trail. Interesting. I didn’t all of a sudden feel satisfied with my body. I just didn’t give a crap. I was running.

Along comes the real world and wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t magically transform into a 5’10” lithe supermodel or a cute little pixie girl in a size zero. Huh. Go figure. The real world arrived nonetheless and I started to realize how much I truly disliked this game of Hollywood Double Dutch. But I thought I’d still play anyway. I’d still attempt to achieve a body that would match my awesome, spunky, confident, inner self – still repeating the mantra “I have to lose weight” – I started running more consistently.

A funny and unexpected thing happened. I fell in love with my body. The body that in the past 10 years has run 13 half marathons, one marathon, and 2,000 miles to Tahiti. That body. The body that is actually 15 pounds HEAVIER than it was 10 years ago when I started running to lose weight! I love that body. I love it so fiercely. Sure I get a little itchy when I feel a few pounds of new jiggle after the holidays or if I haven’t run for awhile, but I still love the jiggle, however unwelcome. I love it deeply because I’m grateful for it. I know what it can do.

In college I took a philosophy course that focused heavily on the ideas of Iris Murdoch. One of our textbooks was “The Sovereignty of Good.” (I highly recommend it). It is the act of focusing on the Good – art, service, love – that effectuates transcendence. This focusing and taking action lures us outside ourselves. You can’t simply try to be grateful as effectively as when you focus on giving to others which results in a sense of gratitude. You can’t try to understand humanity as well as seeing a great play – the pathos of which evokes an understanding of humanity as a result. A focus on good things brings about Good. The actions make us Good. It’s not so easy to be good for Goodness’ sake. Someone alert Santa.

I couldn’t try to love my body in a vacuum. I just couldn’t. I did try. Hard! I simply did not love it. 10 years of running consistently – focusing my mind on something healthy and active instead of the outcome on my appearance – changed me. It works this way in acting. You want to get out of your own head? Focus on your scene partner. What are you doing to him? Do it. Voila! No more in your head. So too with body positivity as it turns out. You want to love your body? Focus on doing things with it. Be active. Put your body to work. You’ll discover that it’s Good, EXACTLY as it is.

I started running because my 6th grade teacher told me to. I stuck with it in high school and college to try and lose weight, when I suddenly realized it had this potent by-product of making me feel sane. I keep running today not to love my body, but because I love my body. Running, as it turns out, is the bridge between my sparkly, glitter-spackled, spunky, soulful, introspective, confident, awesome, self and the physical vessel I was given to get through life – my body. You get one boat to sail the ocean. Don’t scuttle it. Name it. Take care of it. Decorate it. Love it. Have fun sailing.
I run to connect my soul to my body. I run because it’s spiritual. I run because it’s physical. I run to get out of my head. I run to focus on the Good.

Why do you run?

sparkly self

thoughts on the weight game

Since I was 13 years old my New Year’s resolution has been to lose weight. Sad, I know. Such is the plight of the insecure female. Granted, I have lost weight and gained weight and lost again over the years but never because of my New Year’s resolution. It kind of discredits the whole resolution concept doesn’t it? Yeah, for me too. For the past couple of years I just stopped making one. On midnight of December 31st of every year I would kind of mutter to myself in a wishy-washy way “yeah, I’ll lose weight this year, yeah I’ll eat healthy, yeah I’ll stick with it.” Wow, sounds so convincing, right? One of my all-time favorite quotes is a super famous one by Goethe. Brad introduced me to this quote when we first started dating and it’s one of the reasons I knew he was a keeper. Actually what happened is it the quote was framed, hanging on his bathroom wall. Kind of a strange thing to read as you’re going to the bathroom, but inspiring nonetheless:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

“Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” I mean, come on, who writes this stuff? It’s amazing. I have never been fully committed to weight loss and that is the reason I have never achieved it to a satisfying degree. However, I have a pretty good reason for never committing. It’s not an excuse, but it’s a reason.

I hate that women are plagued by the pressure to lose weight. It’s as simple as that. I hate it. Here’s the part where you say “Oh dear, here we go, another journal entry about the unjustness of being a woman. Woe is me. Oh the humanity. Real women have curves.” Blah blah blah. I know you’ve heard it all before, but not necessarily from me. I think that this is an issue we need to consider. I believe that we lose an ounce of power with each ounce of weight that we agree to lose. Whoa! Rebecca is getting all super-feminist on us now, AND she’s talking in the third person. Be afraid. Get out your barbecues out cuz I’m ready to burn some bras! In all seriousness, please read on, dear reader. This is important to me.

Yes, health is important, I get it; but come on ladies, it’s not health we’re obsessing over, is it? Health is the acceptable excuse when what we’re really all thinking is, I want to look thin. For some people, health is the reason. I totally get that. Some people have obesity, diabetes, certain types of cancer that run in their families and even a little bit of extra weight can exacerbate those risks. To those people I say yes, it’s fantastic that you are taking precautions to avoid disease. Good on ya! But let’s get serious. Almost every woman I know would like to lose weight and most of said ladies are pretty gosh darn healthy. I know it sounds cliche but why are we ladies so uncomfortable with our bodies? The funny thing is, there’s this huge gap on the spectrum of confident women. It’s never girls like me, who are maybe a little bit overweight, pretty curvy, and also pretty average, who are happy with their bodies and singing its praises from the rafters. It’s usually either the stick thin Malibu Barbies who are flaunting as much skin and silicone as humanly possible, or it’s the Monique’s of the world who just want to jiggle their junk with pride until the cows come home. What’s wrong with we average ladies? Why aren’t we proud feeling average? Average is what women through the centuries have looked like. Average is beautiful. Have you ever seen a Botticelli! Can you imagine Kate Moss making that impression in the Renaissance?

check out that FUPA!

Most of the world’s population of women wear between a size 8 and a size 14. Come on ladies, we’re the majority, let’s own it!  I really see this as an epidemic. The masses of women in the western world have been programmed to want to lose weight for really no other reason than conditioning and peer pressure. Am I wrong?

Disclaimer: this post is obviously from the point of view of a girl who has been curvy all of her life, BUT, I know there are plenty of ladies out there who CAN’T gain weight no matter how hard they try; and that provides its own set of insecurities. You ladies are gorgeous too. In a nutshell, I think women are frickin’ gorgeous and awesome in any shape or size and I want us to embrace the fact that we’ve got one body to live in. Let’s enjoy it. End disclaimer

Now let’s venture into the lion’s den, Hollywood. Most successful ladies, especially in the entertainment industry, are much thinner than average. I get it. I feel the pressure, believe you me. It keeps me up at night. But you know what, the only way that Hollywood will ever begin to reflect what an average woman looks like is if we average ladies are truly satisfied and happy with our bodies. Then we wouldn’t pay to see stick-thin bobble-heads on the big screen because we would snap out of the Splenda-induced coma we all seem to be in and realize that those girls look TOO skinny. We have all drunk the Diet Kool Aid and Hollywood will continue to exploit that until we realize what strength in numbers means. I again must reference the Bug’s Life metaphor I used in a previous blog entry. We outnumber those stick-thin Hollywood starlets about a million to one, and the day we realize that and demand some representation, that could change the Hollywood game in a major way. We’d see a lot more Christina Hendricks’s, Jennifer Hudson’s (before she sold her soul to Weight Watchers), Toni Collette’s and Kate Winslet’s all over the place and a lot less Keira Knightley’s.

I’ve been wishy-washy about my New Year’s resolution because secretly I resent it. Or I guess not so secretly now. I not-so-secretly resent that almost every woman I know is trying to lose weight. You look beautiful gals, you do. And if you’re worried about romance, don’t. The guys think you look great too. I won’t speak for all guys, but I do believe that most guys care MUCH less about a few extra pounds than we do. MUCH LESS! When I drop or gain 5 pounds and point it out to my boyfriend, he has no idea what I’m talking about. Men will never scrutinize us women as much as we scrutinize ourselves.  Forgive the hetero-centric nature of this comment. I say this merely from a personal reference point. Most of my life, I thought in order for a guy to like me I had to be skinny. I actually thought that. I can’t believe how many years of my life I wasted thinking that. Ironically, I met the love of my life at my most opposite of skinny. Go figure.

So why am I talking about this? It is related to running, I promise. As I’ve struggled over the years to lose weight for my acting career, various people have suggested I look at it like an athlete. I could go on and on about how offensive that is to me. A swimmer can’t perform at the same level as Michael Phelps without accomplishing a low BMI as part of his training, it’s true. That makes sense. But to compare that to acting? I’m sorry, I thought acting was about telling human stories, and not about looking a certain way, fitting into a certain size, or being a certain shape. It makes my blood boil. Basically it’s like saying that a prerequisite for being an actor is you have to be thin and you can’t even get in the game until you are. I understand why it would be impossible to win a Gold Medal for speed skating if you had an extra 20 pounds on you; but I don’t see what my hip size has anything to do with whether I can play my objectives. So please don’t tell me to compare losing weight for my career to being an Olympic athlete. If you do one of those SAT analogy tests it looks like this, a low BMI is to Professional Sports as Losing Weight is to Being an Actor. That’s annoying. See paragraph 8.

Things have shifted for me this year. I have always been resistant to losing weight for my acting career for all of the reasons I stated above. Now that I’m a runner, however, I understand the need to lose weight for the athletic output. So there, I said it. After that diatribe about empowering the ladies to embrace their booties, I’m saying that I need to lose weight. I just wanted to make it exhaustively clear that it’s not because of Hollywood, pop culture pressures, or my “health” (I haven’t been sick in over two years, my blood pressure is insanely good, and I can run a Half Marathon, so I think my health is pretty stellar). I need to lose weight because I am obsessively frustrated with my running time and I know what’s holding me back is weight. I can’t cut an 11 minute mile. When I was in college and weighed 10 pounds less, I was breaking under a 10 minute mile. The reason is clear. My aerobic health is great. I don’t feel painfully tired after a long run, my legs feel strong, my breathing is strong, that’s all great. I cannot get my body to move as fast as I want without weighing less. It’s simple, painful, annoying, physics.

So that’s my story folks. I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year because I want to beat last year’s time at the Disneyland Half Marathon. I want to perform at the most optimal version of my athletic self. If you want to send me encouraging words about losing weight as a recreational athlete, I’m all for it. Just don’t say anything about acting 😉