KAILUA-KONA — Amanda Trusty and Justine Smith are hitting a difficult topic head on, but with a twist.
Never the shy ones, they’re more than willing to talk about eating disorders without skirting around the sensitive subject. In fact, the performers have made it the focal point of their presentation, “Let’s F***ing Talk About It: Body Image,” a show that wallops a comedic, serious and entertaining punch while delivery an important message.
“Eating disorder support is so limited on our island that youth have to be flown to Oahu to see a specialist if they present signs of disordered eating or body dysmorphia,” Trusty said about the reason the duo is putting on the show. “In a day and age where youth are receiving mixed signals from social media every day, parents and teachers need resources to support and empower youth in cultivating peaceful relationships with their bodies and with food.”
Curtain lifts at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at Aloha Theatre.
Trusty is an author and body positive dance instructor who uses her teaching style inside classrooms across West Hawaii to reach kids. The West Hawaii Community Health Center also hosts Trusty to talk to their faculties and staff to provide strategies on how to communicate with students and patients surrounding these tough topics.
Smith is a comedian who hosts a number of performance outlets in the community for local women to showcase their talents. As a single mother of two teenage girls, she is well-versed on having these difficult conversations while also going through, as the two describe it, “peri-menopause” herself and experiencing similar body changes to that of her girls who are going through puberty.
Together, they’ve created a following of folks who seek to learn and gather tools to support local youth in their own way.
And on stage, that looks like education, support and laughs, all packed into one.
“We are quite an entertaining pair,” Trusty said.
The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, (ANAD), a nonprofit working in the areas of support, awareness, advocacy, referral, education, and prevention, says at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S.
Also, every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder, and it’s not just the young who are afflicted. The nonprofit cites that 13% of women over 50 engage in eating disorder behaviors.
The performance is recommended for people over 18 years old.
“This show is meant for anyone who works with youth — from medical health professionals to guidance counselors to babysitters — and we especially encourage men to attend to learn the perspective Justine and I have gained as adult women in the performance industry who either parent or work with kids every day,” Trusty said.
The show is the first of a series planned performances. Future topics will include diet culture, puberty, and social media. The theme of the series is empowering adults in the community so they know they are not alone in the struggle to get through to youth.
“No matter if you are a parent or teacher or don’t work with kids at all — we as adults also have healing to do around body image and relationships to food,” Trusty added.
Tickets cost $25, available at alohatheatre.com. The two will provide a Q&A following the show at 6 p.m. Monday in Damron Hall, adjacent to the theatre. $5 if purchased with show ticket, all others $10.