Greg Carruthers, a professional actor and choreographer who has been working in the performing arts industry for 10 years, found that he spent decades hating himself, and his image. Carruthers highlights that the industry demonstrates ideas of fat-phobia, something he notes often begins in an internalised place, “it’s a pillar of our society, it’s the last acceptable prejudice.” This discovery was not something Carruthers experienced secondhand. He described his experience in casting as strongly focusing on image and having roles promised to him on physical conditions – like losing weight – which did not benefit his personal or professional life.
“I was told I would get the role if I was able to lose some weight. And that was something that I accepted and understood to be fact because that’s what the language is in our industry. If I was working any other job, if my boss had told me to lose weight that’s a human rights issue, right?”
Welcome to the Stage!
Carruthers saw this lack of diversity and recognition in the performing arts and made it his mission to break down stigmas and fat-phobia in the arts, by developing a visibility project in 2020 titled EveryBODY On Stage to “reduce the harm done by body dysmorphia and disordered eating on the long-term health of artists to encourage the positive representation of all body-types on stage.” As a huge proponent of his therapy the initiative was formed, Carruthers says.
He began to see himself in a different light, and not compare himself to the other dancers in the mirrors at rehearsals, which inspired him to inspire and empower others. “It’s really empowering for me, to empower myself and others. This is who I am, this is what I do. And there’s work for me in this space if people would just look a little deeper.”
Inspiration has no Bounds.
His mission has inspired several people, like Charlene Lauren. She attended some of the EveryBODY on Stage shows last year and says they left a lasting impact on the way she thinks and understands representation. She says, after following their social media and attending in-person and virtual shows,
“It has been an incredible resource for me in helping to unlearn anti-fat bias and fat-phobia. It has been a stepping stone for me to better understand individual and community experiences in this area so that I can think critically and do better for my friends, family, and others in my life.”
And while Carruther’s mission impacts many people within the community and beyond, there has been a positive impact closer to home – with his own family. His sister, Andrea Carruthers, says
“I am so proud of the work Greg is doing with EveryBODY on Stage. Being able to sit in the crowd of a show and relate to the character on stage, the way they look, who they represent, different races, genders, cultural experiences – You can relate in several different ways. It is so important.”
Carruthers’ mission has only just begun, and there is no end in sight. He wants to tell aspiring performers to not dim their light, and that “Representation matters. You can be that representation for someone you didn’t see when you were a kid.” His impact on the community stands true to their mission statement, and Carruthers vows to continue to let inspiring others, inspire him.
Article by: Melanie Pileggi | Toronto