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BWW Blog: My Weird Relationship with Ursula

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I've always been bigger than all of my classmates - that's a fact that took a while for me to accept, and it was still a fact of life once I got interested in theatre. It felt like whenever I voiced my feelings of being left out of theatre (and almost all of the media that I consume even to this day) people would always say the same thing.

"Don't let that hold you back!"

"You could play anyone if you had more faith in yourself."

"If you're discouraged by your body type, don't be! You'd be perfect for Ursula!"

That last comment is the one that's stuck by me - probably because I've heard that exact sentence from countess people - along with variations of playing Tracy Turnblad and the mom from Music Man. However, none of the other comparisons really struck a nerve with me like the Ursula one did.

I've never played Ursula or even had the opportunity to audition for her, but when I was in middle and high school doing theatre, I dreaded the mere possibility that I would ever have to play her.

Side note: I love The Little Mermaid and I even enjoy Ursula as a character! The music is amazing! I even have Poor Unfortunate Souls in my rep book in case I ever get asked for a Disney song. My feelings about this character have changed a lot since I got older, had more theatre experience under my belt and became more confident in everyday life I no longer resented the thought of being cast as this character.

For years, my biggest problem with Ursula is that for so long, it felt like she was the only character anybody could imagine be as, including myself. It's no secret that there isn't a lot of fat representation in theatre (or practically every form of media), and when I was younger it really hurt me. It wasn't until I noticed that I was different from my classmates that I also noticed that no one I watched looked like me, and there was one character that I felt, so suddenly that it felt like a shock to my system, was a character that represented me specifically.

I bet you can guess which character I'm referring to: the evil diva from the sea herself.

For years, I felt like she was someone that people were reminded of whenever they looked at me. And I hated it so much. Hearing people say exactly what I dreaded just made feel worse.

I wish there was a clear moment where I no longer had all these negative feelings, where I could finally enjoy this classic Disney movie without being reminded about what I didn't like about myself, where I just enjoy the song Poor Unfortunate Soul because it is a sincerely fun song on it's own and feels amazing to perform in the bedroom when I'm bored, but there isn't a clear ending.

It absolutely helped that I found more representation of myself, and I felt like there were other parts of who I am that I could relate to fictional characters, and finally I acknowledged that I am not made for other people to approve of and just because I anticipate what people are going to think of me does not mean that they will think of me that way, and even if they do, it doesn't change anything about my self-worth.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Katelen Hankins