There are two reality shows on the horizon that will follow the struggles and triumphs of plus- sized women as they navigate their way through the fashion industry.
First up, the unfortunately titled “Big Sexy”. If they did nothing else, the powers-that-be at TLC were able to come up with a more cringe-worthy series title than the train wreck that was “More To Love” , ( an honorable mention should go to VH1 for uninspiring “Big Girl’s Club"). This 3-part series follows five scrappy ladies who are out to make a name for themselves in the business of fashion, fight the stereotypes that curvy woman aren't desirable, sexy or h-o-t.
Nikki Gomez (model), Heather Roach (stylist, bikini designer), Audrey Curry (make-up artist), Leslie Medick (stylist), and Tiffany Bank (model).
Over on the Left Coast, MTV cameras follow Chelsea Settles on her journey from her hometown outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Ciudad de los Angeles as she attempts to fulfill her life long dream of making an imprint in fashion while facing the struggles of leaving her sick mother, moving across the county and living with a roommate. Much has been made of the fact that Chelsea weighs 324 pounds and is morbidly obese. I find that revealing her weight is just as annoying as articles in fashion mags that have to include the fact the starlet-du jour is a size 2 (if she’s a size 0 even better!). It is a constant reminder that we woman are constantly defined by what we weigh and what size dress we wear, instead of who we are at our core.
After watching the clip I couldn’t help but notice the cocktail of humiliation which consisted of condescension, shame and some good old skunk eye from appalled fashionistas who were clutching the pearls at the thought of working alongside someone whose clothing size is in the double digits. Given that this is a show on MTV, I pray that the producers don’t look at this as a vehicle to portray Chelsea as some sort of carnival sideshow freak, but instead focus on identifying the roadblocks that are keeping her from achieving her goals, which quite frankly is an issue that is relatable to everyone.
Having worked as a wardrobe stylist for nearly 15 years, I know first-hand how tough it is to work in the fashion industry. To quote Michael Kors “this isn’t an industry for sissies”. There were several occasions that I would encounter someone who implied (of course it was a thinly veiled implication, dahling) that I wouldn’t be able to produce quality work because of my size. I took my grandmother’s advice; I strengthened my backbone, kept my mouth shut (that was the hardest part) and let my work speak for itself.
Am I hoping that these shows will be successful in helping to break down barriers for stacked women everywhere? Of course. True success will come when no one bats an eye at curvy women working alongside their smaller sisters in all aspects of the business.