Bare naked advertising

By Katy Nielsen

A picture on campus is creating a controversy, but mostly because someone literally did not read the writing on the wall. Provvidenza Catalano, junior double major in theater and marketing communication, plays the lead role in “Fat Pig,” a play by Neil LaBute, and posed nude for the poster advertising the show.

“The picture could be very positive for people to see,” Catalano said.

According to Catalano, she has never had a serious body image issue. She said she is confident enough to pose naked and have the image posted across campus.

“I was really surprised there would be any controversy,” said Catherine Price, senior theater major and minor in women’s and gender studies. Price is president of The F Word, Columbia’s feminist group, which is presenting “Fat Pig” as part of Columbia’s Love Your Body Week, Nov. 8–12.

“I heard about [the controversy] from our treasurer, who had spoken to someone on the Student Organizational Council board,” Price said.

According to Price, someone on the board saw the image and was offended. But SOC chair Shari Simpson said no one was upset about the poster.

“There was no controversy,” Simpson said.

When Price met with members of the SOC during the last week of October, no one stepped forward at the meeting to complain.

“They didn’t even mention [the image], as if it wasn’t even an issue anymore,” Price said.

She said the problem occurred when a person was offended by a picture of a heavy-set girl and the title, “Fat Pig,” and he or she didn’t read the complete poster.

“Here’s a seemingly fat girl posing naked and she’s OK with herself,” Catalano said. “Then people think, ‘Well what’s wrong with me that I can’t do that?’ I think the image accomplishes what it is supposed to, if people see the image it will make them wonder what the play is about.”

The play is about a man in corporate America who falls in love with an overweight woman. He faces ridicule from co-workers because of his relationship and must confront the reality of his own weaknesses.

“They thought we were putting up fliers with the picture of a fat girl calling her a fat pig,” Price said. “But once they saw this was a play, they were like, ‘Oh, nevermind.’”

Price said she hopes people will be smart enough to read the entire poster.

“If you’re going to have a strong reaction to something, are you going to walk away or are you going to read about it?” Price said.

Matt Brands, senior film and video major, said his initial reaction to the image was the photo is unflattering.

“But then again, I don’t know what the context of the piece is,” Brands said. “I guess it’s going to be …  about obesity. Some [people] may see it as offensive, but I don’t.”

Casey Long, junior acting major, said the image is shocking.

“It gets your attention,” Long said. “My only criticism is that it might distract or repel people.”

The poster makes people look within themselves and ask why they’re uncomfortable, or why this image excites or disinterests them, Catalano said.

Some people who saw the image told Catalano how brave she was for posing nude.

“I had a lot of girls in the Theater Department tell me it was a really powerful image for them to see,” Catalano said. “I am not what society propagates as a beautiful body shape.”

There’s a line in the play when a character says we are scared to see people we’re afraid we’ll become.

Catalano said the reaction to the image is a parallel to that line of the play.

“To some people, I may just be considered that fat girl, and you’re uncomfortable to see that because you’re like, ‘That’s not what I want to become,’” Catalano said. “To see it surrounding you will permeate your brain.”

Catalano said she hopes the image will get people interested enough to see the play and discuss how the image and the play make people feel.

According to Catalano, what theater is supposed to do for the audience, the actors and everyone in the process is make them have the impulse to change something within themselves or something within the world around them.

“So to me, this picture has been doing all that, and people haven’t even seen the play yet,” Catalano said. “I think it’s really wonderful it has had that spark.”