Alum performs song “Skinnyfat” to satirize body image

Amber Gideon has moved on from ballads and taken on comedy in her songwriting. (Courtesy of Amber Gideon)

The inspiration for the newest single “Skinnyfat” by Amber Gideon ‘06 came from peers teasingly comparing her body to Jell-O in high school. Her self-noted, seemingly never disappearing muffin top and apparent ability to gain weight even after eating just one meal also influenced the lyrics.

The comically worded single focuses on the struggle of working out, eating right, but never losing any weight. Gideon said the carefree tune should not be taken seriously.  

“I just felt so frustrated,” Gideon said. “It seemed like no matter what I ate or whatever I did, I was just not a firm person. I just sat around thinking about all these analogies like a twig in a gummy bear wrap or being made of marshmallows, just picturing how I felt.”

The song is labeled as “country” on Soundcloud and features an acoustic guitar backing Gideon’s vocals.

WGN, a radio station based in Chicago, premiered “Skinnyfat,” along with an interview with Gideon, on Jan. 2. In the interview, Gideon discussed how she hopes the song embodies how other women feel and her future projects.

“I don’t think I ever really cared about making money,” Gideon said. “All I wanted was for people to hear my songs.”

Gideon uses her degree in writing, literature, and publishing to write songs, and has done so for the past 10 years. Just recently she began performing when she turned from writing emotional ballads to lighthearted comedy tunes.

Gideon wrote several unreleased tunes, like one about her hatred for the 405 freeway, which is unfinished. In her early songwriting career, she wrote ballads for other artists such as Todd Kessler and Jamie Lampert from The Voice. Her newest work sounds much different from those ballads, she says.

“I think it was a lot harder to write these really heavy ballads,” Gideon said. “With the joke songs, I could just have fun and not take it seriously.”

The songs Gideon writes now stem from her experience of writing a comedy pilot with her former roommate, Lindsay Daly ‘07. Party Animals focuses on employees at an event planning company who specialize in pet parties. The show played at film festivals and they hope it will eventually air on TV, Daly said.

“We’d love for it to be on TV,” Daly said. “We know that’s a big challenge and there’s so many talented people out there … but we’re going to keep trying.”

In the writing process, Daly said she and Gideon researched other comedy scripts and watched pilots similar to theirs.

“I’ve spent the past three years writing this comedy pilot,” Gideon said. “I feel that from doing the pilot and from writing it so many times, I got a better feel for the comedy formula. I think it made my approach to these songs a lot stronger.”

The attention “Skinnyfat” received landed Gideon the musical guest spot on the Feb. 1 show of Hollywood Night Live at Second City Hollywood comedy club. Hollywood Night Live has a similar format to Saturday Night Live, with a host, sketches, and a musical guest. Gideon will be performing “Skinnyfat” and other original songs. Gideon’s songs are available on Soundcloud.

“I’m debuting a brand new song; it’s called ‘Ted Cruz I’m Scared of You,’ and it’s basically just making fun of Ted Cruz,” Gideon said. “It was a labor of love, very easy to write, and it was just fun.”

With radio play, a performance booking, and increased public attention all coming her way after years of hard work, Gideon said she’s had a great start to 2018.

“It’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable,” she said. “I was really insecure at first and I didn’t want to show anyone, but the more I did it and the more I showed people, I kept improving.”

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