GIVEAWAY and INTERVIEW
**Leave a comment for Jen for a chance to win a mug. See the end of the interview for details on the prize.**
Jen Ponton plays Rubi on Dietland, and we’re so lucky to have her. Rubi is a kick-ass fat activist in the novel and TV series, and this also describes Jen in her everyday life. If you’re not following Jen on social media, you must. She inspires me every day.
Jen has appeared in many TV shows and movies. Besides working for the amazing Tina Fey, Jen has – in her own words – “had the pleasure of playing some really fabulous characters of size: the unflappable romantic Franny in the indie Love on the Run; the ribald ghost of Duchess Beatrix on Hulu’s Deadbeat; and the earnestly enthusiastic Charlie in Free the Nipple (much like Dietland, a production/movement).” Jen is also a writer who has written four television pilots, all of which feature fat positive women.
Here we go!
Sarai: I know many women named Jennifer who complain about having a name that’s so popular, and it certainly has an “everywoman” quality to it. But as a Jen yourself, do you think, as in Dietland, that being a Jennifer can have a subversive kind of power?
Jen: Absolutely! Dietland has totally infused me with newfound pride to be a Jennifer. Growing up as a child of the '80s, I was one of, like, 5 Jennifers in my class (and of course, I was 'Jen P.,' which was real fun for the fat weirdo outcast). I often wished that I could be something closer to a Skyler or a Moon Unit. There's something about Jennifers, Jessicas, all the 'J' girls of the era, that had the implied qualities of popularity, friendliness, beauty; social butterflies. If we could share that assumed sisterhood...why couldn't we share a more dangerous one? One that felt like just as much of a birthright? It feels like power in numbers. It feels like redefining femininity. Badass.
Sarai: You’ve been a guest star on shows including 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Law & Order: SVU, and Orange Is the New Black. What’s it like to step onto the set of an iconic show for a guest-starring role?
Jen: The teams of all these shows have always been immensely warm and welcoming towards me, so it's always fun to step into something that already has its own wonderful energy and get to share in that for a week or so. I've had the incredible honor of working with some amazing directors, badass female showrunners who inspire me (including Marti's sister-in-law, Jenji Kohan), and working with kind, generous, playful actors. That said, there's something about putting show together from the get-go that feels much more theatrical, much more ultimately collaborative, and I love that. It makes it all the easier because of all the incredible women making it hum so beautifully.
Sarai: I follow you on Instagram and I regularly see photos of you in fabulous outfits. You seem to love fashion, and you have a real flair for it. You’re also well known in fat positivity. Why do you think fashion has become such an important part of fat activism for many women?
Jen: Thank you! I really do. I feel like I'm making up for lost time--it's something that was denied to me (and I'm sure a lot of fat women) for much of my life. I remember before my sophomore prom, my straight-size mother and I went to every store we could find in search of a dress for me. It took all day--right up until 9pm, when I collapsed in tears in a Macy's, having to settle for a dress that only just barely could zip up. My chest looked like a pancake, and thank God I went with my two best friends, because they were the only thing that could keep me from my self-loathing that night. All that to say--I couldn't figure out how to dress my body, or where to dress my body, and I lived in old t-shirts and windpants for a really, really long time. When I finally found the Fatosphere and got 'dematrixed,' I finally got the courage to celebrate my body through clothing that had felt denied to me my whole life. The combination of fat acceptance along with the incredible resources that a community can provide led me to finally figuring out how to dress myself in a way that felt fun, exciting and finally resonant with who I truly am. Like you show us in the book: fashion is a world that is reserved for 'deserving bodies.' Ours are deserving. We should be able to wear the shapes, lines, colors, patterns, pieces that excite us--not the ones that hide us from the world.
Connect with Jen!
Her website: jenponton.com.
Twitter and Instagram are both @JenPonton
Go to my Facebook page to leave a comment for Jen, or a general comment about episode 3, and you’ll be entered into a random drawing to win a mug.