Monday, May 3, 2010

Controversial Cleavage

The clothing company Lane Bryant recently reported that a new ad featuring a plus-size model has been censored from prime time network television because the models were "too sexy" and showing too much skin. Meanwhile, the same networks aired a Victoria's Secret ad in prime time. A case of size discrimination? Here is a link to a Jezebel article that better outlines the controversy, but I thought I'd post the video here, too.

This is the Lane Bryant ad, which ABC and FOX have reportedly refused to run during Dancing with the Stars and American Idol, respectively:

Now, I'm the first to agree that the plus-size model (she's size 16) is sexier than any size 0. (Full round hips vs. protruding hip bones? Generous cleavage vs. exposed ribs? No contest.) We've all known for a while now that, although it's great to be slender in a healthy way, women's bodies are meant to curve and carry a bit of fat in certain places. (Let's face it, there's a reason why we need lingerie in the first place....)

What I actually find fascinating about this is how any television network can argue with a straight face that they believe bigger women to be sexier. These are the same network execs who have spent the last few decades spoonfeeding us images of increasingly thin women, calling them sexy, and turning the regular girls among us upside-down with self-doubt, because it's just not real to be that thin.

The networks have denied the accusations of discrimination, and may ultimately even run the ad. Still, it would be naive to think that the TV studios are coming around to a healthier way of looking at women. No, I believe that they are using "sexy" as an excuse to keep these images out of the public eye as long as possible. Because once these sexy, full-figured ladies make the limelight, the lies the networks spent half a century building will begin to break down. The public might just start to demand "sexy" women in all their TV fare. For networks built on such a... slim... foundation, that would mean starting over from scratch. And they don't want to.

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