Taking the lead on body image

TAKING CHARGE: Brodie Lancaster says she felt like the support act in her own life before deciding to make a positive change.
TAKING CHARGE: Brodie Lancaster says she felt like the support act in her own life before deciding to make a positive change.

FROM an early age, writer and editor Brodie Lancaster, now 27, realised popularity and perfect bodies were overrated. So she embraced outsider status and chose to become the hero of her own narrative.

"I LIVED in Bundaberg, until I was 18. It's weird to talk about high school and be all, "no one wanted to date me" or "people were sh*tty to me", because I was still friends with the popular kids.

I wasn't popular myself, but I knew people would want to be around me if I was funny.

I understood this was tenuous - say or do one wrong thing and I'd be cast out.

So I became a supporting character: I was sassy, but I'd never outshine somebody else.

It was a delicate balancing act.


Lancaster says she felt like the support act in her own life.
Lancaster says she felt like the support act in her own life.

Bundaberg was a nice place to grow up, but all the things I loved - film and music and pop culture - weren't available.

There was an old theatre that played movies already in the video store. Bands didn't tour there. I knew I had to leave.

I now live in Melbourne, and my perspective on being the sidekick has changed. As my profile has grown, it's been harder to see myself as an underdog.

Even if that's kind of how I still feel.

If I'm at an event where I'm doing a big talk, people have one perception of me and my confidence level.

Then I get offstage and I feel like I've done a bad job. It's a weird divide between how you appear and what you actually are.

Sometimes, I think about what I've written and wonder, "Oh man, is it all just really sad?" I hope it's not.

It's just the things you don't want to say to your friends when you're out having a beer; all the stuff you go home and write in your journal and never tell anybody.

I think about my body every day. It dictates the way people see me, and the way I approach space, other people and different circumstances.

Concerns get heightened when you live in a body the world does not accept.

That's why I talk about the politics of bodies in my book - because the common frame of mind is that fat people should hate their bodies.

So when we don't, it's seen as either radical or horrifying. By just existing, we are told we are glorifying obesity.

My family hasn't read my book yet. I feel a bit weird about them reading it - it's about all the feelings I've ever had!

There has also been fear around writing something really personal that also opens the reader up to broader ideas; there was pressure to represent more than just myself here.

In the end, the only account I can write with any kind of authority is my own.

1. Don't compare yourself to others. Easier said than done, I know!

2. The personal is universal. The more specific you can be to your life experiences, the more likely people will find a morsel of their own truth in it.

3. Don't burn out. You can't do good work if your brain is fried.

No Way! Okay, Fine by Brodie Lancaster (Hachette, $32.99), is out on Tuesday.

Topics:  arts author book bundaberg creative family fat shaming film health living life obesity politics

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