I had written another blog and was all ready to post it when I heard about ABC and FOX banning an ad for Lane Bryant’s lingerie brand Cacique.
Of course, I had to look it up. My first thought was, “Are you fucking kidding me?!” Those women are beautiful. Next to me they are anorexic thin. But in today’s societal view of plus-size women they’re fat. I would peg them at maybe a size 8-10 after a big meal. Which in today’s world is average. Quite frankly, they are smaller than average given that there are statistics that state 60% of American women are over a size 14. Regardless, they aren’t the thin women we are used to seeing in the Victoria’s Secret ads, which I must say, are WAY more risque and sexual than this ad.
I know I need a segue way here but trust me this will make sense. When I moved to Los Angeles to be an actor and a writer I had no idea what was lying ahead for me. When I got here I really didn’t know people. I had a friend who lived here but he was quite busy with his life. Other than that I was on my own with my ideas, my computer with my dial up modem and my stand-up comedy. I performed at The Comedy Store and met some people. But overall I was a loner. I would play on my computer for hours. I would go on AOL and talk to men in chat rooms. I would lie and tell them I was thin because, even though I was on the road to self-acceptance, I had yet to meet a man who liked fat women. Was there such a thing? Well, yes, after much embarrassment of having to tell men that actually I was a plus-size woman, “how fat are you?!!” UGH. I found there were men who liked big women. I found BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) chat rooms on line. A whole world opened up for me. I was fortunate to meet some great women during that time who are now life long friends as well.
I also subscribed to BBW magazine. I had read the magazine years before. I had even used their personal ads to find romance and didn’t. So, I knew there was a world out there that I was interested in. I just didn’t realize how big the world was so-to-speak. In the back of one of the magazines there was an ad for a mens magazine for men who like big women. It wasn’t your standard pink-part magazine. It looked like it might even be a magazine that women could also enjoy. So, I subscribed.
In the meantime, I submitted myself to the BBW Model contest. I remember when I was younger I had done it and never heard back. I figured I had nothing to lose sitting in LA hoping to make it as an actor. I submitted photos. And, I did hear back this time. They told me I didn’t make it into their contest but they liked my look and asked that I be a professional model for them. It was a one-time deal. It was a great and memorable experience. At the time, BBW magazine was owned by Larry Flynt. Yes, Larry Flynt of Hustler magazine fame. We shot out in one of his porn studios in Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley. Hilarious. They put the mattresses up against the walls so, we would have room to shoot. There were stacks of all kinds of porn magazines filled with images of every fetish you could think of and some you would be grateful to have not thought of. It was a kick. As it turns out, I was the largest model to ever grace the pages of BBW magazine. At least up until that point.
Then I received my copy of the mens magazine I had mentioned earlier. WOW! I was so excited to see this magazine. No pink parts. No gynecological poses. Just very big and mostly, very beautiful women. In the back of the magazine was a one-page article about BBW dances being offered here in Los Angeles. The article had pictures of a Halloween party with big women dressed up having fun. Literally, in one sitting, my whole world opened up. I called and found out about the next dance and within a couple of weeks found myself attending a dance party in a room filled with big women and the men who wanted them. WooHoo! Okay, so this isn’t the point of this particular blog. I promise in an upcoming blog I will tell you all about the dances. And, there is much to tell.
This magazine was like a bomb going off in my world. I was so excited to read every word. Sure some of it wasn’t for me. But overall it was magic. Even the imagery of seeing these big women showing off their bodies was exciting to me. Not in a sexual way. But in a way that had me get that my body was beautiful and sexy. I was able to look at my body and not be disgusted and angry. After a couple of issues I did something I never in a million years would have imagined. I submitted my photos to the magazine. Yes, I had a friend take some pictures of me in lingerie and I submitted them for consideration. Surprisingly, for me, they wanted to use them in their magazine. Then they told me I was going to be on the cover. Within a year I went from being a woman who didn’t date to being a woman on the cover of a mens magazine. Sounds like a Hollywood story to me.
Of course, I told my mother. I had to let her know. In hindsight, I probably didn’t have to let her know. It might have been easier on her to not know for a variety of reasons. This wasn’t a magazine that you would find on shelf in a bookstore. It was a subscription-only magazine and you had to know about it to find it. But for whatever reason I told my mother. There was probably some veiled in-your-face attitude on my part too. It wasn’t our finest moment as mother and daughter. Sure, it worked out in the long-run but, wow, in the moment, she wasn’t pleased. It didn’t matter that I told her I was covered. I told her I wasn’t completely naked. I told her it was so liberating and freeing for me and that I felt so beautiful and sexy. None of that mattered. The fear for her was what if someone found out. What if one of their friends found out, or worse, saw the magazine. What I said to her was that if one of their friends found out than we would know a lot more about them they would about us. Really! If one of the husbands of my mom’s friends saw the magazine we would definitely know what he liked. Angrily, I said to her, “If I was in thin and in Playboy completely naked showing off every nook and cranny of my body you would be less upset than you are about this. In fact, you would be proud. Your anger is because I’m fat!” Like I said, not our finest moment. Ultimately, it brought us closer being able to be so honest with each other. Just ask our good friend Oprah.
So, back to the banning of the Lane Bryant ad. Is it really because it is too sexy for television? Or is it because the women are fat? And, what about the Victoria’s Secret ads on television or even the Playtex bra commercials? They are all women in bras with the difference being the Lane Bryant models are larger than the other models. In my world, they certainly aren’t fat. Could it be some manufactroversy (a manufactured controversy that is motivated by profit)? I really hope that because of this controversy more people see the ad than would have seen it before. I am sure more people are talking about it. I certainly am!