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Indy native uses comedy and personal experience to broach issue of body image

Cathedral High School graduate Kate Huffman is back in Indianapolis to perform her one-woman show at the Indy Fringe Festival.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Kate Huffman is funny. She's witty and quick on her feet. Skills that come in handy given her career.

The Cathedral High School graduate left Indy for L.A. 14 years ago to pursue acting and comedy. While she's built quite a reel, snagging several film and TV roles, she's back in her hometown this week to perform her one-woman show at the Indy Fringe Festival, which kicks off Friday.

Wednesday, we found Kate at the downtown farmers market, handing out cards promoting her show.

"It's a good time, worth coming to, you'll have a blast," she told passersby. "It's a comedy. I've been touring with it for three years. It's on body dysmorphia (where you can't stop thinking about perceived defects) and any kind of mental health issue."

The name of her show is "I'm Too Fat for This Show." Yet, when you see Kate, you see a slim, trim young woman. But that's not always what she's always seen.

LIVE: Mary Milz is talking live with Indy native Kate Huffman back in town for Indy Fringe, performing. I'm Too Fat for This Show

Posted by WTHR-TV on Wednesday, August 14, 2019

As a child, starting around age 10, Kate was in her words, "a larger child, a fat kid," who desperately wanted to be an actor.

But she said back in the 1990s, it was "rough in terms of body image on TV...you had one option if you wanted to be a female actor, that is thin, right? Stick thin."

So, Kate began dieting and exercising obsessively. She said her show is "based on 20 years of my OCD, and eating disorder. My journey began with an eating disorder, largely anorexia."

That journey includes several years of in and outpatient treatment. All of it a well-guarded secret and source of shame. That is until she began writing about in 2014, spent two years on the script and finally summed up the courage to share her story with her closest friends.

"I invited them over, bought them food and drinks, had a shot of tequila and read the script to get feedback," she said.

And their response? Kate said, "it was so overwhelming. I was encouraged to continue working on it and had a public reading...and then her first show.

She recalls it being "the scariest week of my life," but since then she's performed at venues in the U.S. and abroad.

While the topic is no laughing matter, Kate's found humor makes it easier to talk about.

"People are like, 'Wow, I thought I understood eating disorders. I didn't and I didn't know I would relate to them so much'," she said noting that people with alcohol and other addictions struggled with the same feelings of shame or not being good enough, bright enough, pretty enough and on and on.

"We all live within walls and it's freeing to let them down and know others have their own stuff behind their own wall," she said.

Kate said while she's in much better place now in terms of her eating disorder, "I can't lie, I can't say it's gone. It's a 'hey how do we move thru this stuff? Just get rid of the shame and be open about it. That's really the victory of the show. It's talking about the issue."

Something she hopes her show accomplishes in Indianapolis. For a list of shows, times and other information, click here.