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A Chat With Jen Ponton

by Jennifer Jonassen

I had the pleasure of meeting Jen Ponton through the modern miracle of cyberspace. Jen contacted me after reading one of my columns. I was immediately knocked out by her moxie and her positivity and would love to share her with you. Jen Ponton is working hard to make her dream come true in my old stomping ground of the NYC theatre world. She has recently been featured on ABC’s “What Would You Do”  and I have no doubt we will be seeing much more of her in the future.

Jennifer Jonassen: Tell us a little about your career so far. Are you in any new & exciting projects?

Jen Ponton: So far (famousness-wise), my career highlight has been my starring role on ABC’s “What Would You Do?” in their “Momzilla” episode. Conveniently, it was also a serious study on body image! The highlight of my career personally has been an *amazing* original play, “Sea Story,” which I did with a regional company in NJ, as well as my off-Broadway premiere at Playwrights Horizons in NY!  Currently, I’m doing the first regional production of “Blue’s Clues” at a professional theatre in NJ. But I’m thinking the best is yet to come when I get my own show up.

Jennifer Jonassen: Tell us more about that.

Jen Ponton: I’m feverishly working on a one-woman show which I’m hoping to self-produce and mount in NYC ASAP! It’s called “Fat Chicks Don’t Get Plotlines”–and it’s about growing up fat, and then choosing to enter one of the least fat-friendly professions ever.

Jennifer Jonassen: Any dream roles?

Jen Ponton: My dream role? I have the soul of a leading lady, not a sidekick–so a dream role ?(that doesn’t yet exist) would be a FABULOUS fat leading lady who is successful, comfortable in her body, in love (or on her way there)… just like any other starlet. The more we see fat women in those types of roles, the sooner it will be socially acceptable to BE fat. Out of roles that already exist? I am counting down the days until I play Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd!”

Jennifer Jonassen: You are perfect for it! How does your size help or hinder your career?

Jen Ponton: You know, being plus size really equals out to the same pros and cons as if I were slim. When there IS a role for me, my competition is nearly non-existent–but there aren’t a whole lot of roles for me. If I were slim, there would be LOADS of roles… and thousands and thousands of girls! So I actually feel that my size is a positive/neutral factor.

Jennifer Jonassen: What do you think of the term plus size? And what words do you use to describe yourself?

Jen Ponton: I feel that the term plus size is just fine, and can accurately describe the literal size of a woman, but I’m really big into reclaiming fat. It’s not *supposed* to be offensive–it’s supposed to be merely a descriptive word. It’s what I am–as well as loud, and frequently socially unacceptable. So I prefer FAT! (I also, as per my blog, love the Yiddish word ‘zaftig,’ which translates to ‘juicy’–and is a SERIOUS compliment.)

Jennifer Jonassen: What would you tell a young girl struggling with body image?

Jen Ponton: Turn off the television and close the magazines, for God’s sake! Those things are POISON for body image. I wasn’t comfortable with my body and absolutely hated it until I got my head on straight only a year or so ago. Read fat-friendly sites like Shapely Prose (www.kateharding.net), and watch Joy Nash’s “A Fat Rant!” (www.fatrant.com). There are a LOT of misconceptions and lies out there about being fat, all made to make you feel sub-human. If you surround yourself with the right crowd, even on the Internet, it will do you a world of good. Girl, you are beautiful!

Jennifer Jonassen: Very inspiring. Who inspires you?

Jen Ponton: Oh lady, YOU inspire me! Joy Nash, Kate-the-heck-Harding and all the other bloggers on the Fat-O-Sphere, Marilyn Wann, Big Moves Dance Troupe, Deidre Edwards… I am seriously inspired by this de-Matrixing that fat people go through. And when we have more 100% body-positive fat female celebrities, I will be inspired by them, too!

Jennifer Jonassen: That is a wonderful compliment. Thank you!  Now back to you: what things do you love about your body???

Jen Ponton: I love my *softness.* Years ago I would have picked a single body part–and I am rather fond of my breasts and legs–but now I just love how soft I am all over. I must be really fun to hug!

Visit online at JenPonton.com

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