I waited for TLC’s three part Big Sexy series with a combination of hopeful excitement and trepidation. I loved the concept-five plus size, confident and intelligent women making their way in fashion inNew York City. On other hand, I worried about its honesty, and whether it would be an exploitative three ring circus like so many reality television shows. Happily, Big Sexy did not disappoint.
This show features five friends-plus size model Nikki Gomez, fashion stylist Leslie Medlik, makeup artist Audrey Curry, fashion designer Heather Roach and plus size model Tiffany Bank. I loved their vibrant personalities, strong voices, and their willingness to stand up and be heard.
New York City Fashion Week Show and Nightclub
In the first episode last night, the women attempted to go to a New York City nightclub after attending a fashion week show (in which they saw some emaciated models, but none that looked like Nikki and Tiffany. Tiffany approached a designer, told her she was a plus size model and asked if she would ever use a plus size model in her show. The designer’s hesitation and insincere “yes” was demonstrative of the bias that exists in the fashion industry.
Outside the nightclub, the women stand on line to get in, only to be pushed aside as they reach the front. The bouncer pulls thinner women from further down the line and lets them in for free. The women then watch as the bouncer confers with co-workers as to what to do with them. Finally, the bouncer deigned to allow the women to enter, subject to a 30 dollar cover change, stating that it was “club policy.”
There were a number of ways the women could have dealt with this situation. Being pushed aside and made to wait to see if you would even be allowed to enter is painful and embarrassing, particularly in front of a line of onlookers. Some women might have retreated from the situation by slinking off. Others might have paid the cover charge unhappily and tried to put the incident out of mind and enjoy the rest of their night. But the women realized the bouncer was the one who should be ashamed. They refused to be pushed around or mistreated. Instead, they told off the bouncer and left. That’s when I was hooked.
Adventures in Dating
The show also dealt with the issues of dating for plus size women honestly and realistically.
The women decided to go speed dating for the first time. Speed dating, for the uninitiated, is where men and women talk for around eight minutesminutes, a whistle blows, they mark on their scorecards whether they are interested in each other, and move onto a new prospect. Afterwards, you find out who was interested in you. I’ve been speed dating. It’s a shallow and silly process.
Tiffany asks one of the men whether he’s ever dated a plus sized woman before. He admits he would only date a plus size woman when he is drunk. The conversation afterwards centers on the refusal of many men to date plus size women. Many men are embarrassed to be seen with a plus size woman. Some men view plus size women as an easier mark with fewer options. The women discuss how some of them have dated and stayed with men they weren’t into because they were worried they couldn’t find anyone better who would want them.
I’ve gone speed dating. It’s superficial and silly. The rejection can be brutal. I dated a few men in the past from speed dating who I turned out to have nothing in common with. What else can you expect in eight minutes, which allows someone to do little more than look you up and down?
I could completely relate to these women. In the past, I dated with guys I wasn’t happy with for far too long. I was afraid I couldn’t do better. I didn’t want to be alone. I remember things now, and think to myself “What the hell was I thinking?” When they broke up with me, I thought there was something wrong with me. Meanwhile, deep down I didn’t even want to be with them. Finding a show like this that is so honest and real is hard and great when it happens. Continue reading