Former soap actress Roxanne Pallett has taken her body shamers to task and sent out a message to younger women that they don’t need to be slim and skinny to be considered for acting roles.
Speaking to The Sun on Sunday, the former Emmerdale star, who played Jo Sugden from 2005 to 2008, said that she had been told throughout her career that she had to lose weight and was even offered free cosmetic surgery to help this to happen.
The 33-year-old is a size 8 and 5ft 2in and has had to gain weight for her latest film role.
Speaking about the backstage bullying that she has had to endure in her time as an actress, Roxanne recalled a time when it was insinuated that she was too fat for a costume fitting.
She said: “This woman measured me but when it came to putting on the costume she couldn’t zip it up.
“It fitted the previous actress and she hoped it would fit me but it didn’t. The last actress was obviously a different shape.
“I’m petite but curvy and I’ve got hips, boobs, thighs and a bum.
“She leaned forward and said, ‘What have you eaten today?’ She implied that I’d eaten too much and it was my fault the dress didn’t fit. It was so humiliating.”
Roxanne continued: “She then said, ‘If you diet from now until opening night, this dress will fit and I won’t have to let it out’.
“She basically wanted me to lose an inch off my body in a couple of weeks to make her job as a costume mistress easier.
“I was furious. Years ago I perhaps would have kept quiet in embarrassment but I was older and stronger and told her that my diet was irrelevant and her job was to make the costume fit and not pressure me to change my body to fit the costume.
“I also complained to her boss. If she said that to someone else, the next girl may have taken the comment to heart. And that’s where insecurities are planted and eating disorders develop.”
Roxanne added: “I recently met a young drama student and aspiring actress who had been told by a drama professor that if she wanted to be considered for television she’d have to lose weight.
“I was absolutely horrified. I spoke to her for half an hour and told her she didn’t have to worry.
“I told her that when I was in Emmerdale I was the heaviest I’ve ever been and that there were roles out there for every size of woman.
“I explained it was the size of her dedication that mattered, not her waistline.”
Roxanne has now been cast in Recoil, a movie thriller due to be released in January. She made the decision to put on weight for the role to make her character seem more realistic.
She said: “I decided I would put on 6lb to prove a point and to make my role in Recoil more real. It saddens me that anyone would tell another person to change.
“We should be celebrating ourselves and complimenting each other on what makes us unique. Those quirks make us interesting, and interesting is beautiful.”
While part of the Emmerdale, there were people that made her feel that she wasn’t beautiful enough for a TV role.
She was offered free Botox, fillers, liposuction and a boob job, which she declined on all occasions.
Roxanne said: “A whole array of surgery was offered to me. I declined it all, but how insulting is that? It’s like they’re saying, ‘We want to help you change for the better’.
“People seem to think it is OK to say things like that but it isn’t.
“I hope by speaking out, and being myself, I can make a small difference.”