It's A Guy Thing: Size Does Matter On Television
Posted by Guest in Loving Our Bodies,Pulse of Fat Culture
Still image from the Lane Bryant commercial-turned-Internet-sensation

I guess size does matter. No, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the new Lane Bryant TV ad that has stirred so much controversy. Seems that women parading around in their underwear is fine with television networks, so long as those women have slim-hipped, prepubescent bodies. But when you throw a few voluptuous curves into the mix, the TV execs start to panic. According to Lane Bryant, both Fox and ABC initially refused to run the ad. And though they later relented, the whole issue raises questions about both the interplay between media and advertising and the narrow definition of beauty in America.

Since this column is called, “It’s a Guy Thing,” let me say first that the model Lane Bryant uses in the ad is HOT. Even my wife thinks she’s hot. Now that we’ve established that, let’s move on to the whole beauty standard issue. I assume we’ve all seen our share of Victoria’s Secret ads, which are equally racy - if not moreso - than the content of the Lane Bryant commercial. Yet I’ve never heard of a network exec balking at the idea of running one the Victoria's Secret ads.

The Lane Bryant commercial, on the other hand, presents a woman--a voluptuous woman, a la Rita Hayworth. I have to wonder: would today's networks run an ad featuring Rita? How about Marilyn Monroe? Raquel Welch? When the American beauty standard transitioned from Welch to Twiggy, I can remember my dad’s disappointment. In response, he developed a crush on Lynda Carter. Hell, I had a crush on Lynda Carter. And by today’s standards, even Ms. Carter, in her 1970s Wonder Woman glory would be considered “plus sized.” Now that, to me, is the definition of insanity.

I’ve got to wonder what kind of nation celebrates violence during prime time viewing but wags a shaming finger at a generously curved woman embarking on a lunch date in her underwear and raincoat. If anyone can explain that to me, I welcome the attempt.

For a small but incisive reminder of how little has changed in the last 25 years, we need look no further than the 1980s sitcom Designing Women, whose star Dixie Carter recently passed away. I can remember co-star Delta Burke’s admonishment: “I’m not fat, I’m voluptuous” in the context of one of the show’s episodes. Despite the uproar of applause that followed, it remains a message some network execs have yet to process.