Mathilda Gregory’s How to Be Fat mixes stand-up comedy, storytelling and self-experimentation to deliver a performance about fatness, body policing, how one feels about their body and how this grows, changes, move forward, moves backward and often contradicts itself. Gregory’s various months spent documenting her food intake and adherence to different fad diets, feels like Instagram running amok, and is reminiscent of early scientists conducting experiments on themselves – somewhere between Benjamin Franklin and Jekyll and Hyde. The many contradictions inside the work are not the result of inconsistent storytelling (very much not so) but rather because Gregory is responding to the world of the policed female body, and the institutional structures which demand certain kinds (and amounts) of consumption and blame anyone who doesn’t fit into a prescribed norm. Gregory charts these conflicting messages inside herself and also lambasts the etiquette and judgements around size which make it impossible to talk about fatness, and bodies, in public with both people who identify as fat, and those who do not.
While Gregory’s story is a personal one – and she makes sure to only make claims on her own experience – the work is a political one, bringing to mind Carol Hanisch’s seminal ‘The Personal is Political’ which charts how individual experience and oppression demands collective action. By charting the micro-aggresions and inequity experienced by fat people from various sectors in society, it is clear that a more collective approach is needed to open up conversation. Mathilda Gregory is in good company with work on body shaming and body positivity, with other artists including Selina Thompson, Le Gateau Chocolat (currently at Assembly, diagnosis on Black below), Scottee, and Charlotte Cooper’s blog Obesity Timebomb.
HOW TO BE FAT Mathilda Gregory 7-31 August Zoo Southside. Wheelchair Access and Level Access. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=%22How%20to%20Be%20Fat%22
More about Mathilda Gregory: https://mathildia.wordpress.com/
‘The Personal is Political’ http://www.carolhanisch.org/CHwritings/PIP.html
Scottee’s Short Film FAT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8nS5HpZirE
Ten Strange Self-Experiments: http://www.madsciencemuseum.com/msm/gallery/top_10_strangest_self_experiments
Obesity Timebomb Blog: http://obesitytimebomb.blogspot.co.uk/