Vail Daily column: Oh, the horror! |

Vail Daily column: Oh, the horror!

Charis Patterson
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

When I was first tapped for the role of Janet Weiss in last fall’s production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” my first thoughts did not involve excitement, anticipation, or gratification. Instead, the first words out of my mouth were “Oh, shit.”

As a devotee of the movie and having spent a good portion of my misspent youth going to midnight showings, I knew that any single other role in the show would have (in my mind) better suited my talents and, sadly, my body type. For those who are unfamiliar with the movie, Janet was played by a 20-year-old Susan Sarandon, and for much of the movie, she is next to naked. I am not talking about a Susan Sarandon-type, but the real Susan Sarandon. I myself am not a Susan Sarandon-type. I am more of a Nia Vardalos in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”-type. Thus the “Oh, shit.”

So, in the middle of September, I had to make my “New Year’s” resolution. So I resolved to make myself worthy of being onstage in only my underwear in less than six weeks. In my mind’s eye, that meant losing 30 pounds, dropping four dress sizes, tanning at least three shades and becoming a blonde.

My first step was to get help, because for years I’d been spinning my wheels with my weight, trying diets, going to the gym (sometimes), and found out that I’d been doing everything wrong. I signed on with Drew Tarkington from the Vail Athletic Club, and I think I was both more and less than he expected. In a state known for the athleticism and fitness of its residents, I think I ranked about a four on the Tarkington scale, and probably only made it that high due to my high vegetable-to-meat intake ratio. For everyone out there who, like me, could never actually afford a personal trainer, the most important thing that I learned was to change my methods. I took time and energy to roll myself into the gym during lunch, before and after work, and on my days off in order to transform myself. I ate whole grains, vegetables and chicken and drank nothing but water and Diet Coke (not approved by Drew, FYI). By the end of my six weeks, I had lost 10 pounds but found a whole lot more.

While I didn’t reach my “goals” (see above), I realized that I didn’t need to. While I didn’t lose 30 pounds, the 10 that I did lose were the ones that mattered, and I could feel their loss every day, in the way that I walked and stood and felt, in the way that my clothes fit and most importantly in increased self confidence. I didn’t lose any dress sizes, but I realized that that didn’t matter either. I felt more confident wearing only my underwear in front of 300 people than I ever had in my best clothes. I neither tanned nor went blonde, and yet I was a new person.

So what had changed? Physically, not that much. A little weight and a little toning shouldn’t be enough to make a size 10 woman take off her clothes and flaunt her glaring white body to a roomful of strangers, and yet it was, because I realized that it didn’t matter. Almost every woman that I talked to said that they could never have done what I did, and some of them are the most physically beautiful people I know. So, who cares if you’re a size 2 or a size 20, if you have the confidence to put yourself out there and flaunt what you do have, I guess that’s perfect enough.

Charis Patterson is an Edwards resident. She has been performing for 20 years and is on the board of directors for the the Vail Valley Theatre Company ( E-mail comments about this column to

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