The UofT was a pretty fancy school [ivy, wealth] and so there were a fair amount of people who appeared to be leisurely rich white folks in expensive workout clothing lifting 5-lb-weights repeatedly who gunked up my groove. Amidst their comfort I started to think: if they can enjoy having a body, why can't I? If they can aim for strength and muscle-mass, why can't I? One of the pools was in a building that had a stained-glass roof and I would do the backstroke for a quarter-mile, unable to stop smiling. I got ballsy, rode my bicycle everywhere on the well-marked lanes of Toronto's downtown core, I stood on my bike and kicked out my legs in joy, rode in the snow and rode in the rain; I rode in heels and rode when my heart was in my throat, breaking.
My dear friend Leslie is on a new show on TLC called Big Sexy*. It follows the lives of five New York City women aged 24-30something who are all plus size and work in the thin-centric fashion industry. Big Sexy premiered last night and has two more episodes that air on Tuesday nights at 10PM. I’m sure the first episode will re-run a few times this week.
Leslie and her fellow cast mates organized a viewing party for their friends and family at a big sports bar in Times Square.
Wilbur of SK Wilbur Designs. (and his mom!)
It was also very Times Square realness, which is a different experience from typical Manhattan nightlife for those of us who live in NYC and rarely go near tourist-packed Times Square. This German tourist told me that she wouldn’t know I was a lesbian if she just looked at me. Mackenzi told her “She even goes to Michfest!” Femme invisibility strikes again!
The cast worked hard to make the party happen, getting various sponsors including this vodka. We had $5 drinks all night (I enjoyed the Big Sexy Tini) and while outside on a smoke break with Mac I noticed that the vodka was low calorie via this giant billboard. Not that you could tell in the beverages, or that it really mattered since each drink was made with sugary mixers.
I brought my girlfriend Cougar, and it was really fun to point out all of the outfits the girls on the show were wearing that they bought from Re/Dress. Three of the five cast members got their New York Fashion Week outfits from our store.
I was excited to finally see the show, having heard about the concept since Summer 2010. I was impressed at how it turned out. I was especially happy to see all of the fat positivity that managed to seep through the editing for TV/entertainment process. They made the cast seem very relatable.
Things I loved about the show:
Seeing Re/Dress (the store Leslie and I work at)–it looked great, fun and huge, which is hard to convey to folks when they haven’t been to our warehouse-sized store in real life.
Tiffany asked her ex-boyfriend whether he dumped her because she was fat and he said “No, it was because you’re crazy.”
Tiffany dressing down a boy who said he only did it to fat girls when he’s drunk.
Heather making fun of self-identified wizards who want to date fat girls.
Leslie delivering clever lines like “Double chin win.”
Leslie and Audrey shopping at Pat Fields and discussing using dresses made for thin women as accessories.
Audrey admitting to being a 24 year old virgin, which I thought was a brave choice, especially contrasted to many other reality shows that make it seem like everyone is having sex by high school in our society. I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 21 and had graduated from college and I think being a late bloomer was a good choice for me, but something I had a lot of shame about when I was living it.
I wasn’t thrilled with the show’s depiction of the BBW party the cast attended. I thought they portrayed the women who attended as dowdy and desperate, which I didn’t think was fair. I also thought they were policing the sexuality of the women participating in the thunder thighs contest–sure it’s not the classiest portrayal of sexuality but I think policing bodies of any kind is disempowering to everyone involved. Body shaming is certainly more degrading than participating in something sexual and fun that might be bringing a lot of empowerment to the women who are involved.
In that same vein, I think all bodies should be celebrated and my body liberation politics cringe when I hear the show’s tag line “Once you go big you never go twig.” Everyone deserves love and dignity, no matter their size.
Of course since this is a queer blog I have to comment on the lack of queer content in the show so far. I did offer to be Leslie’s gay bestie on the show, but so far the production company hasn’t taken me up on the offer. I imagine myself to be like NeNe’s friend Dwight, but stealth queer in appearance, at least to German tourists.
And you have to talk about commercials. As someone who has considered a couple of different reality show projects, one of the concerns that is always brought up is “Will all of the commercials be weight loss commercials juxtaposing our fat positive message with interests capitalizing on insecurity?” I noted in the first commercial break a long commercial for Weight Watchers.
But then the next break had a commercial (that elicited cheers from the crowd) for Lane Bryant/Cacique.
And later on there was a pizza rolls commercial. So I think it really spanned the weight-related commercial spectrum.
Overall, though, I love the show and I can’t wait to see the next two episodes. I hope it continues to talk about the real frustrations and triumphs of living big and sexy in New York City!
*The name stumped me for awhile until I was told that Big Sexy is something that fat girls get cat-called with. Here’s hoping we can reclaim that from cat calls by saying Hey Big Sexy to each other.