by Onicia Muller
As I wait for my video call with Cecilia to connect, I type: not turning on my cam, because I’m wearing a robe and looking super crazy. She replies: do whatever makes you feel comfortable. How could I write a piece on body positivity, stripping, and comedy, when I was afraid to be seen in my house robe? Comfortable in our craft and covering, I turn on my camera, and we began chatting.
Can you share your ‘you are beautiful’ experience?
I don’t know if there’s ever a single moment … I think that is something you have to learn throughout your life. I don’t think you can fully understand your beauty inside and out until you’ve reached a certain age.
I’m 29, and my weight has fluctuated so much throughout my life. My mom and sister’s weights fluctuate - it’s just how we are. I think a lot of girls feel permanently fat. … I’m learning to love my body no matter what its weight is. If I’m at 150 [pounds], that’s great because it means I got big ole titties, big ass, and lots of curves – and to me that makes me happy. When I’m skinny, I like feeling thin, and I like how my cheekbones are more pronounced. There are different things to love about your body- no matter what your weight is.
Why did you partner with You Are Beautiful?
The You Are Beautiful campaign is great because they put that single message out there; you are beautiful. It doesn’t matter what you look like; as long as you are feeling it, then it’s meant for you. … It’s posted all over Chicago and meant simply as a beautiful, genderless statement. It’s a heart-warming installation art piece.
Beyond Strip Joker, how can comics continue the discussion on body positivity?
Not to brag on my show too much, but I really believe that Strip Joker is a turning point in the way we think about bodies in stand-up comedy. … ‘Body positivity’ and all of these LGBTQ buzzwords come with a lot of baggage, meaning, and preconceived notions. Brittany Meyer’s vision was to have these heavy – almost academic – ideas discussed in a humorous way because that’s the easiest way to get people talking about things.
I think the comedy community is already coming around. … I once asked someone what they thought about a joke in which another person was made to feel victimized. I asked, ‘Isn’t that F-ed up?’
He replied, ‘Well, in stand-up comedy or a joke someone is always the victim.’
I can see that, but just because you are making fun of some idea or individual, doesn’t mean that you have to shame them. Comics who go up on stage and diss women for being fat, or men or being skinny – other comedians can sniff that out immediately and realize that this isn’t an educated person.
On that note, can you comment on criticisms of the PC culture and its ‘attempts to censor comedy’?
Comedy - before anything else - should make you laugh. And after you laugh, you should think. …
[PC culture] makes [comedians] feel as though we’re not allowed to use the words we’re comfortable with. If we don’t have our words and our freedom, then what do we have? People - especially Americans - get very riled up when you threaten to take away their speech. Their hate speech. Not that people who get frustrated with PC culture have an issue with hate speech. That’s not what I’m saying at all. … We are not eliminating words from our vocabulary. We are adding words for things that don’t have names yet. ... [Tranny is] pejorative because people who identify as that gender do not like that word. They have a word for it and we should use it. We’re not allowed to use our mean words. … You have to respect people’s identities. Why wouldn’t you want someone to feel more comfortable using different words?
Using outdated language, themes, and stereotypes are no longer efficient in comedy. … [Rising comedians] are the ones who are being really intelligent and finding other things to talk about. Body positivity is one of those things that haven’t really been talked about – at least not in a way we can make it truly funny.
Created in St. Maarten. Based in Chicago. I write, say funny things, and enjoy hanging with creative minds.
Here you'll find writing samples, videos of past performances, and off notes about my life as a writer.
When I'm not writing and performing, I help artists get organized. You should hire me to help you produce live events, promote your art, or manage resources so you can make the most of every opportunity.
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