Emma Geraghty’s Social Live Art Performance – Fat Girl Singing

By Abi Whitaker and EllIe Anderson-Ingham

On the night of the 21st of February York Theatre Royal hosted the SLAP event ‘Fat Girl Singing’ by Emma Geraghty. Here Abi and Ellie discuss the performance.

Promotional photograph of Emma Geraghty for the SLAP event, ‘Fat Girl Singing.’
Photograph courtesy of the SLAP website.

SLAP is a social live art performance festival founded by two of our very own York St John students, the 2019 festival included a one woman show by Emma Geraghty aka Fat Girl Singing. For an exciting hour we listened to original songs, confessions, stories and anecdotes about Emma’s life and experiences as a self-professed fat woman.

We walked into the studio of York Theatre Royal, rum and coke in hand, to Lizzo’s ‘Good as Hell’ playing over the speakers which was Abi’s first clue that she was in the right place. From sitting in the audience, the studio was intimately set up as though we were looking into Emma’s bedroom which was complete with a vinyl record shaped rug emblazoned with the name of the show.

Emma launched into a chronological leap through childhood to adulthood stories, discussing everything from body image issues to listening to P!nk as an angry thirteen year old to lying on the floor and listening to music so loud it makes the neighbours complain and from the laughter of the crowd I think we all felt a little bit like she was telling our story too. She told stories about her experiences with ignorant men on dates and even family members telling her she’s “not fat, she’s beautiful” as if the two are mutually exclusive. She recounts these stories with members of the audience over cups of tea and even a tequila shot with a brave lady on the front row. Alongside these stories, Emma performed original songs expressing how she felt about her body and how the power of music helped in building her confidence.

She calls out the capitalism of diet culture and companies benefiting from women’s insecurities and the danger of products such as skinny shakes, making excellent points about how these capitalist institutions can’t survive in a world where women are confident. Furthermore, she discusses how patriarchal beauty ideals for women have made her feel inadequate and un-loveable in the past but from these experiences she has learnt to reclaim the word ‘fat’ as it is merely a descriptor and doesn’t have to mean all of the things society has attached to it.

Emma rounded off the show the way she began with a speech about how she feels about her body except this time she ends it with the words “I am fucking phenomenal” as she reclaims herself and her body in a more positive way. We left the show feeling like we had connected to ‘Fat Girl Singing’ on a personal level, inspired by Emma’s confidence but also her honesty in her struggles.

As this was our first time attending a SLAP event, we are eager to return next year and urge others to check it out next year and with ‘pay-what-you-can’ tickets there’s no reason not to!