Pidge Meade has had enough. She’s fed up with America’s obsession with weight and body image, which has reached epic proportions.
“I definitely think the American message is, ‘thin equals good, fat equals bad, and also that thin equals happy,’” Meade says. “I don’t believe that any of those things are actually true.”
She did what any strong-willed performance artist with a sense of humor would do — give birth to an entire show that conquers the subject matter. Called “40 Pounds in 12 Weeks: A Love Story,” it opens at the Marsh’s studio theater on Friday.
Drawing from her own real-life escapades with weight-loss, weight-gain and the insanity that ensues, Meade’s hysterical yet thought-provoking outing — developed with and directed by Charlie Varon — strips away illusions.
“I started writing my own material because I had gotten quite heavy and had gotten too ‘heavy’ to be cast for regular shows,” she says of the impetus. “The themes that resonated most with people were about weight and my particular relationship with weight and food.”
“40 Pounds” opens with a scene from Meade’s 20th college reunion, where a former college roommate remarks on her stunning weight loss.
From there, audiences witness just how Meade lost the weight — and gained it back, and lost it and gained it back all over again.
“Like many people, I gained a lot of weight my freshman year,” she says. “My dad, who was a world-renowned men’s gymnastic coach, came to pick me up from college and on the extremely long car ride home, he laid down the gauntlet saying that if I didn’t lose the weight I had gained, that I wasn’t going to go back to college.”
Meade includes that tale in the show in an effort to “bring into light some of the culture conversations around weight,” noting that it also “influences relationships — there’s a lot of judgment and discrimination, and people tend to do pretty extreme things to try and lose weight.”
There’s more to savor. Huffington Post arts columnist George Heymont will moderate post-show discussions on Saturday, Feb. 25 and March 19, involving Meade and other writers and artists who tackle the subject of weight.
IF YOU GO
Where: The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. most Fridays; 8:30 p.m. most Saturdays; closes March 20
$15 to $50
Contact: (415) 641-0235, www.themarsh.org