Confidence Beyond Size: My Story as Matron “Mama” Morton for the Broadway National Tour Of Chicago

Christina Wells in Chicago

Your Worth Isn’t In Your Weight
Photo by Jeremy Daniels

National Tour! Me? Yes. Absolutely yes. If you’ve followed my journey since America’s Got Talent, you know that I’ve fallen in love with musical theater. When I learned I got cast as Matron “Mama” Morton for the Broadway National Tour Of Chicago, my heart nearly exploded. And with all of my excitement, I didn’t think of the potential struggles that awaited me when I joined the very sexy cast of Chicago the musical. 

Shedding Fat Phobia. Learning To Love My Beautiful Body.

Like many of us, I have a long history of body insecurities. Mine stretch all the way back to when someone felt the need to comment on my 5-year-old baby self wearing a swimsuit. I know I was rocking the look, but back then, their words cut deep enough to follow me into adulthood.

Years of middle school teasing and high school bullying continued to deepen those original wounds, leaving me feeling intensely self-conscious and incredibly unattractive. I fought back the only way I felt I could, with “humor.”  My weight became fodder for my own self-deprecating jokes. Like Fat Amy from Pitch Perfect said, if I call myself fat, it’s so that “Twig bitches like you can’t do it behind my back.” They couldn’t hurt me if I did it first.

National Spotlight and America’s Bullying Problem

Fast forward to my 40s, when I learned to love myself, appreciate my beauty, and see the true value in my bigger body. I began to understand that I’m not beautiful despite my body but because of it too. Who I am is all of me; my love, talents, and body are all parts of the beauty I can offer the world. After I learned more self-acceptance and love, I started truly pursuing my dreams of singing and performing. But then came an opportunity and a challenge…

I was on national television (thank you, America’s Got Talent), but the fat-shaming trolls were ready. They came out in full force. It felt like I was back in school all over again. I was confronted with a wave of bullies and hateful people just out to hurt me. One person wrote that they needed to reinforce the stage because I was such a whale I was gonna break it. That one stung—shoutout to my sister for letting me cry (a lot) that first year after AGT. 

A Turning Point: From Internet Troll Victim to Powerful Motivational Speaker

Then, one day, something snapped in me; I threw my girdle in the trash and decided I would never give those fat-phobic trolls what they wanted. I would not feel shame for who I was or how I looked.  Facing fat-phobic trolls online became a catalyst for me to share my self-worth journey. I started talking about my self-love path to show others they could also be confident in their bodies.

And BAM! I am now a motivational speaker, reminding people to see value in themselves and connecting with people worldwide who see themselves in me. The trolls didn’t break my spirit; they fueled my shine.  These last few years, my self-confidence and self-esteem have truly improved until I walked into the Chicago rehearsal room. 

Self Love

Your Weight Does Not Define Your Worth Photo by Tasha Gorel

Navigating Broadway’s Chicago the Musical’s Sleek Aesthetic

When I first arrived at rehearsals for The 25th Anniversary National Tour of Chicago, I was a little shell-shocked. I didn’t know the long history of sexy, sleek bodies that traditionally grace this show’s stages. As I looked around, my first day of school jitters became full-blown anxiety as every long-legged, six-pack-sculpted, perfect body stretched and posed before me. Did I belong here? Had there been a mistake? I traveled back an emotional timeline; years of body acceptance and progress felt like it was disappearing.

Costume Fitting for the Broadway National Tour of Chicago

During my first fitting, they put me in the traditional suit jacket and slacks that all the previous Matron “Mama” Mortons had worn, and my heart shattered. It was not flattering at all. They put a corset on me, and let’s just say the hours in my hourglass were not cooperating. 

But the Costume Supervisor, Erin, was incredibly kind; she listened to me and made me feel heard. She even went to the New York design team and asked if we could change the slacks to a more flattering skirt, but that was a no. The suit is iconic, and it means so much to the character. They told us that Mama is a businesswoman who wears the suit as a reflection of such. 

Erin was determined to help me, though. She became my costume savior by making the pants into gauchos, which were waaaaaay more flattering. She gave me a (very sexy) lacy bralette, expanded the jacket, and then voila! The suit looked pretty good on me. I could do this, I thought.

Then came the first dress rehearsal, and the entire cast was in their UNDERWEAR! I am not even kidding—panties, bras, and fishnets; the armor of the Broadway Chicago ensemble. The cast oozed sensuality as they performed the controlled Fosse choreography. Then, entering stage left my self-doubt. It was intimidating! I felt frumpy and fat in my suit compared to these lythe bodies. 

Photo by Jeremy Daniels

Chicago Feels Like a Skinny Show But I’m not.
Photo by Jeremy Daniels

How Did I Maintain A Body Positive Image on the Broadway National Tour of Chicago?

I had to reach down inside to grab hold of the self-love I learned and remind myself that my sexiness isn’t based on competition or comparison. My sexiness is based on how I feel about myself—my self-love.

So, every night, I sat backstage during the Cell Block Tango, the song right before my first stage appearance, to focus on myself and my energy.  I’d listen to those beautiful badass performers’ belt and coo, and I would think, “I am in charge,” “ These are my chickies (as my song says).

I would pull my inner BDE (urban dictionary if you don’t know) out, stand up straighter, roll my shoulders back, and let my eyes gleam with the knowledge that I am more than sexy. I am strong, smart, fierce, determined, and unbeatable. Nothing has ever taken me down, and nothing ever will. And it just so happens that I can sing the paint off the walls.  Then I step on stage. 

Your Sexy Is Yours To Define

And now, months into the tour, I will be honest with you: staying confident is not always easy. I have my ups and downs, of course. But every night, I speak to myself with the kindness and love I deserve, and when I need a pick me up, my castmates help me get back on my feet. 

So after the show, when I walked out the stage door, and all those people repeatedly said it was so exciting and encouraging to see someone who looks like them, someone in a bigger body on stage, specifically on CHICAGO’s stage, I could be proud. That makes me feel accomplished, and it’s why I’m here.

Breaking Historical Barriers on the Broadway National Tour of Chicago

My dressing roommate told me I am a trailblazer because plus-sized fat people have never been welcomed in this show historically. This helped tremendously. Acknowledging the historical exclusion of plus-sized individuals in the show, I embrace the role of a trailblazer, lifting my chin a little higher each day. 

To anyone who feels like the “fat person in the room,” remember that we all go through it, and every body deserves love and recognition. Sexy isn’t confined to a single definition—it’s a feeling, subjective, and uniquely yours.

Soooooo what’s the one conclusion I can bring this number to….. Your worth isn’t in your weight, and your weight isn’t what you’re worth.  Be good to yourself; you’re doing the best you can. Celebrate Yourself!

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