Lea Salonga opens up about weight struggles as Kim in 'Miss Saigon'
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino theater legend Lea Salonga opened up about her own struggles with body image and weight gain in a Facebook post on Saturday, September 14.
Lea, sharing an article entitled "James Corden Torches Bill Maher For Fat-Shaming Segment," said on Facebook that she's "struggled with [her] own weight for as long as [she] was old enough to go on a diet."
While adding that she isn't "morbidly obese by any means," the actress and singer said she wasn't the "norm" – at least according to impossible high showbiz standards. "Imagine how this struggle became amplified while I was working on Miss Saigon where Kim is envisioned to be tiny," she said, referring to the landmark musical. Lea originated the role of Kim.
She recalled that at the company office, there was a chart that monitored her weight. She also had to do weekly weigh-ins.
"Or the resident choreographer would be sent to my dressing room to tell me to lose the weight. Or a letter from another producer that saw the show would write to Cameron to tell him, and then Cameron would tell me. I know the company meant well, and I get the demands of the show and that role in particular, but this wasn’t helpful to me or my impressionable young psyche. No one else in the cast carried this on their shoulders, so I oftentimes felt isolated and alone," she said."
"Fat-shaming isn’t helpful, I agree. And folks that are overweight to whatever degree are already painfully aware that something isn’t right. We do really try to do right by our bodies not just to look great but to live long for ourselves and those we love," she said. Lea also thanked a slimming clinic, a diet delivery service, her personal trainer, and her husband for helping her keep a check on her own health.
"If you are overweight and I am around you, know that in my mind I am not shaming you, but am concerned. I want you to be around for a long, long time, and will be your biggest cheerleader holding your hand in your own quest for a healthier you. You got this," she ended the post.
Lea was reacting to James Corden's clapback against fellow late-night host Bill Maher, who did a bit on obesity on Real Time with Bill Maher. Maher had said that fat-shaming "needs to make a comback." Corden pointed out that fat-shaming is of no help and is really just a form of bullying.
Lea was only 18 when she originated the role of Kim, first in the West End and later, on Broadway. She is the first Asian woman to win a Tony Award. Lea continues to enjoy a prolific career – both in the Philippines and abroad. – Rappler.com