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Monica Parker admits that her slippery slope into the World of Chubby began right out of the womb. “I weighed six and a half pounds at birth,” says the first-time author and long-time actress, playwright and writer/producer, who has a recurring role on Syfy’s hit series “Defiance” and counts Dan Aykroyd among her longtime friends. “One hour later, I weighed 62 pounds and I’ve been on a slippery slope ever since.” If it wasn’t in her mother’s milk, where did the pounds come from, questioned the young Glasgow-born daughter of a high-end couturier.
Parker, who co-wrote the animated hit All Dogs Go to Heaven, spent years struggling with the ups and downs of serial dieting, but the journey led to the important discovery that “being a disappointment and a reflection on those who fed me” resonates even more strongly now than it did in the post-war era in which she grew up.
“I want every parent of an overweight child to know that it is not the end of the world.
It is not a death sentence and it is certainly not a reflection of a mother’s or father’s parenting abilities.”
By the age of 12, Parker was about to embark on her teens in a haze of Benzedrine, prescribed by the first weight doctor she was ever sent to. “They just didn’t know better.” What got her through those complicated years was a special weapon – humor, and later, the gift of self-acceptance. They are both the source and inspiration for her new and downright gutsy bestseller, Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society that Loves Thin (Heath Communications Inc.). “I want every parent of an overweight child to know that it is not the end of the world, it is not a death sentence and it is certainly not a reflection of a mother’s or father’s parenting abilities.”
It was her series writing for Evening at the Improv that put Parker smack in the middle of the inner circle of the ‘80s “It” generation of comedy geniuses and friends Dan Aykroyd, Eugene Levy, Martin Short and the late greats Gilda Radner, John Candy and Harold Ramis. “It was a crazy time,” she says, but it opened a “wide” door to a productive and lucrative career in Hollywood for Parker.
During and since that golden era of comedy, Parker has guest starred in a wide variety of TV projects, most recently Andrea Martin’s NBC series Working the Engels. She also guested on endless TV hits, including ER, Murder She Wrote and SCTV. Among her TV movies, Parker co-starred in what she calls “a string of Through the Eyes of. . . tearjerkers” and has appeared in more than 20 feature films, including Michael Douglas’s Perfect Murder and Alan Parker’s The Road to Wellville, starring Anthony Hopkins.
As a producer, Parker’s credits include Hunger Point, starring Christina Hendricks and Barbara Hershey and The Party Never Stops, headlining Nancy Travis. She currently has two feature films under studio option: The Last Single Woman on Earth and Big Mouth.
Known for her brilliant satiric wit and timing, it was her success as the “chubby girl with the gift for gab” that helped her nab her very first starring (and counterintuitive) role in an exercise series on Canadian cable TV directed by Ivan Reitman and featuring Dan Aykroyd. A hit from the start, Parker says she had “the nerve to wear a leotard and do standing back bends.” What she took away from the endless parade of fitness experts who thought they had all the answers about losing weight was that diets don’t work for everybody. “I did every diet known on earth and some that might have come from Mars.”
“Girls and women of any size and any age are really no different from one another.
We all struggle with not being good enough and we’re all looking for that magic potion.”
The plus-size Parker, who splits her time these days between L.A. and Toronto with Quebec-born husband and actor Gilles Savard muses with a serious tone, “If it was on a magazine cover, I did it. I wore gravity boots to bed, knelt at the altar of my Thigh Master, skipped, hula hooped and threw up.” None of it stuck.
Today, Parker sees food as just one of countless temptations that are everywhere in the real world. Her book takes a full-on swipe at the hucksters and hustlers that prey on the overweight and insecure. “Girls and women of any size and any age are really no different from one another. We all struggle with not being good enough and we’re all looking for that magic potion. I have news for you. That potion is actually worthless.”
Getting Waisted speaks to anyone who has repeatedly struggled to lose weight only to gain it back every time. Her story is funny and painful, but it is also an inspiring glimpse into the woman who calls herself “the poster child for turning lemons into chocolates.” She’s proud to be an advocate of being who you are both physically and cerebrally. “I’m a strong supporter for the ‘who we really are’ of the world. If we want to change, but can’t, do we need to be made miserable? Do we ask tall people to become shorter or short people to become taller?”
“I have a gold star for losing weight – and a platinum one for gaining it back.”
She is also a successful public speaker and among her most recent keynotes, Parker addressed an audience of psychologists and psychiatrists for the Eating Disorders Association of Canada (EDAC).
Parker is also the writer and star of the one-woman show, Sex, Pies & a Few White Lies, which toured the U.S. in 2013 to rave reviews.
Monica Parker is on Twitter at monicaparker1 and you can also visit her website and blog at www.gettingwaisted.com and Facebook at monicaparkerproductions