Imagine a beautiful, voluptuous woman going to meet a lunch date wearing nothing but sexy red lingerie under her trenchcoat. If you’re the woman, you feel empowered, strong and just a little naughty. If you’re the guy she’s going to meet, you’re probably going to thank some deity when she walks in the door and drops her jacket. Apparently, this scenario is just too much for Kathie Lee Gifford to bear.
Last week, plus-sized clothing manufacturer Lane Bryant launched a TV ad for it’s Cacique lingerie brand. I’ve been known to shop at Lane Bryant, though I’m not quite plus enough to fit into most of their clothes. However, they do make jewelry that doesn’t disappear against my size 16 frame, and I like the fact that the clothes are made for young, professional women and not your great aunt. My biggest complaint with clothes over size 12 is that manufacturers assume that I need elasticized waists, shapeless jackets, and tons of room for back fat just because I’m bigger than average. Just make the size 16 and 18 in the exact same clothing and the exact same proportions as a size 10 and I’ll be straight. But I digress… Lane Bryant makes strapless dresses and fly-away baby dolls and tank tops and shorts, because every woman deserves to feel cute and comfortable and appealing no matter her size. I like them for that. And for this ad, that highlights the company’s focus on making women “of size” feel sexy.
Apparently, Lane Bryant wanted the commercial to air during “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars,” but both Fox and ABC relegated the ad to the after-9PM time slot for being too “racy”. If that’s true, whatevs. There is nothing in that Cacique ad that you can’t see on “Gossip Girl”. Except, of course, for real body parts and women who eat. Which brings me to Kathy Lee Gifford, who spoke out against the TV spot saying something to the tune of (and I paraphrase): the woman in the ad is going for a sexy lunch and I don’t want my daughter being exposed to that kind of thing. *face palms* Again, I bring up the Gossip Girl example in which alleged high school students are sexing each other – and drinking illegally, I might add – all over the Upper East Side. I believe that show airs during the 8 o’clock hour as well. Where’s the outrage there, Kathie Lee? I guess Kathie Lee is cooler with seeing young girls making foolish sexual choices on TV when they’re under 18 than she is with a woman deciding to turn her lunch date into a quickie.
And that’s what I think the real problem is. Full-figured women are sexy. Not all of them, but definitely Ashley Graham, the woman who stars in the Cacique ad. She’s incredibly aspirational for plus sized women, and appealing to men: beautiful face, shiny hair, full breasts, smooth skin…and that’s the problem. Ashley Graham‘s appearance in the TV ad is unapologetic about her size (which is probably 10 or 12), her sex appeal, and the empowering stance she’ll take when she meets her man for lunch sans cullottes. Ashley’s body parts are certainly bigger than those of the average Victoria’s Secret model, but the real difference is the tone in which her sexuality is delivered. A straightforward female voice narrates the Lane Bryant commercial, reminding us that we’re pretty, we’re sexy, we’re not wearing our mother’s lingerie. And because we feel beautiful on the outside as well as on the inside, we can take charge of our bodies and meet our guy for a “hot lunch” because we’re of legal age and we can make our own choices. Victoria’s Secret commercials are cloaked in, well, secrecy: they have the look of a Peeping Tom, spying on women in their skivvies so that he can see what Victoria really wears under her clothes. Vicky’s Secret models look as though they’re preening for the men who’ll be looking at them instead of deciding to wear those miracle undies for their own empowerment. And the voiceover artist lends an air of faux British classiness to the commercials, just so we won’t think that the women actually enjoy being filmed in their underpants. Heaven forbid!
Another problem with seeing plus sized women in lingerie? Big boobs! You know how immature men are, they see a breast and they lose their ever-loving minds. Remember Janet Jackson and Nipplegate? It was the titty heard ’round the world, and we didn’t really get that much of it. Fast forward to real, live D-cups spilling over a lacy bra for a full 30 seconds and stupid dudes will lose their shit! After all, they won’t be able to concentrate for the thought of heaving bosoms, causing the collapse of the financial industry and. . . Right, ta-tas didn’t cause the downfall of Goldman Sachs, but tell us big-boned gals that we can love our breasts and our curves and dress them up in pretty colors and you’ll never be able to tell us anything. Not only will men everywhere be mesmerized, but we will refuse to shrink quietly behind some skinny bitch we think is prettier than us. We’ll speak up in high school, or in the board room, or in the bedroom. We’ll get rid of the men who don’t treat us good because we’ll realize that our size has nothing to do with our self-esteem. Next thing you know, comedians will stop making jokes about Oprah’s weight and she’ll REALLY be the most powerful woman in the world.
How THAT’S what I call a full-figured fantasy!