Loving just the way you are … not

New show focuses on five plus-sized models trying to succeed in New York’s fashion industry

With the tag line, “Not all fat girls want to be skinny,” the show “Big Sexy” tries to distance itself from other model-based reality shows like “America’s Next Top Model,” and “Project Runway.”

Tiffany Bank is one of the stars of TLC's new show "Big Sexy." Photo by New York Times Magazine

On Aug. 30, the network TLC premiered the new program that centers around the lives of five full-figured women struggling to break into New York’s fashion industry. The show does not place the models in made-for-television competition, but instead hones in on the issue of plus-size models trying to make it big.

Surrounded by an industry that bows to size zeros, the women struggle to find the type of recognition each feels they deserve. Forced to sit on the sidelines of New York’s Fashion Week due to their weight, the women decide to take a proactive stance against the favoritism clearly shown towards thinner models. By putting on their own runway show only featuring plus-sized models, the women make a small scratch on the surface of the fashion industry, notorious for its inclnation towards the thin.

The show also focuses on the personal lives of every member of the group. Further understanding these models makes the show more engaging for the viewer. Audrey Lea Curry, one of the women, fights to find the confidence to walk on the runway in front of her mother, who was once a model herself. Audrey reveals how she constantly feels like a disappointment to her thin mother causing a fragile relationship that is slightly reconciled after the plus-sized fashion show. The confidence that Audrey exudes on the runway helps persuade her mother to finally accept her daughter exactly as she is: full-figured.

“Big Sexy” then poses the question: How key is confidence? From a young age, the motto of “loving yourself” is drilled into many. Individuals are told to accept who they are, regardless of ethnicity, gender or size. Yet clearly, acceptance of oneself does not translate acceptance from society. While these particular women have learned to feel comfortable and confident in their bigger frames, that has not been enough to convince the rest of the fashion industry to accept them as well.

Watching women who are proud of their fuller-sized figures is particularly refreshing. It is not difficult to find a magazine cover graced with the presence of a wafer-thin model. Rarely are woman larger than size 12 even showcased in the media. And what’s so special about size 12? It’s the average size of an American woman. It’s brilliant that these five women are directing their efforts towards altering the fashion industry, but what about the average American? Models are either super thin or plus-sized. What would be truly innovative would be a show about a model who is not size 0, or size 30, but sized 10. In a world that seems to be attracted by extremes, it would take someone average to break the mold.

  • Yazmeen Luna

    I agree with this sentiment. I always say to my friends that there is no one that looks like me on TV. I have no one to connect with and follow in terms of women that look the way I do. I am of average size and sometimes it’s hard to accept when everything you see is everything you are not.

  • Tracey

    Good points all around!