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Is This Progress? | Manolo for the Big Girl

Is This Progress?

This morning I was toodling my way up Austin’s famed South Congress Avenue, home to such beloved Austin institutions as The Continental Club, Austin Motel –one of the last great rock ‘n’ roll hotels, it’s affectionately known as “The Balls Out Inn” for reasons I cannot possibly fathom —  the world’s largest urban bat colony, and well…me.

austin motel

And I was struck by a sign.

Well, not literally, but I was briefly taken aback by a sign for what I can only assume is a local adult novelty shop.

Right there, on a billboard in a yellow babydoll of questionable taste was an unquestionably plus-sized model posing alluringly under the headline Xtra Xtra Sexy.

And that’s…good. Right?

On one hand, I’m glad that a store pretty much built around sex and sexy things feels confident in the sex-selling potential of a plus-size woman.  Plus, since it’s advertising TO big girls and their partners without fetishizing their size (i.e., big women are ravenous for sex and food and everything else)  there’s something positive about treating the 14-plus set the same boring phoned-in way that straight sized women are.

On the other, I don’t really ever want to see ANYONE towering twelve stories above me all nips akimbo on my drive in to work.  What do you think?

20 Responses to “Is This Progress?”

  1. Melissa May 11, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    Good question. I feel like in a way it is progress – hooray for big women seen as sexy without being fetishized, yay. But yeah, towering nips akimbo can be an issue (although I am generally a fan of nips akimbo). Let’s call it a victory for the IDEA of society accepting big women for the sexy beings that we are, rather than for the PRACTICE of plastering nips on billboards. (I am not generally a fan of plastering nips.)

    Progress for the idea, but not the practice. Still sounds like progress to me!

  2. Jezebella May 11, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

    In a word: no. It’s not progress. Getting pornified and treated like meat is not progress in my view. Progress would be NO women being treated like meat.

    Third-waver pro-porn feminists will no doubt disagree vehemently.

  3. Thea May 11, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    My husband and I saw the same billboard and the conversation went something like this “Wow, didn’t know anybody did plus-size lingerie in this town – let’s go check it out”

    So while I get your point about the nips, I was glad to see us treated like everybody else instead of being ghettoeized in the back of the top floor behind childrens wear and furniture like Macy’s and Dillards do in Austin with plus size clothing.

  4. Plumcake May 11, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    @Thea, the Avenue on Brodie has some surprisingly nice lingerie from time to time. It was all 100% Frenchman approved. and this is from the man who didn’t “let” me wear Dior because Galliano is an Englishman.

    @Melissa: Progress for the idea but not the practice. That’s about it.

  5. Plumcake May 11, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    @Jezebella, interesting. It wasn’t a particularly porny image, it was a buttercup yellow babydoll, it wasn’t much more alluring than a picture in a lingerie ad selling the product. How would, in an ideally second wave feminist view, sexy lingerie be marketed to women?

  6. Friv May 11, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    At this time I have no opinion on yellow babydolls of questionable taste, but – if you will allow me to channel Mr. Bing for a moment – could the Austin Motel sign BE any more phallic?

  7. barbara May 11, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    I think I’d need to see a picture, but I have to say it doesn’t really bother me theoretically. The fat fetish thing actually does bother me…

  8. Jezebella May 11, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    Since you asked, the radical feminist position is that “sexy lingerie” is uncomfortable, overpriced, and pointless. If you want to get your sex on, get it on however you want, but lingerie isn’t for women, it’s for men, who have been trained by porn culture to want their partners to look like sex workers and centerfolds. It’s on the continuum of boob jobs, botox, and anorexia.

    I do not speak for all feminists, however, nor am I personally opposed to wearing a bra that is not-ugly. I do think fetish wear and the crappy stuff they sell in “novelty shops” is stupid, though.

  9. Constance May 11, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    Did you take a picture?

    Hmmm, “Congress Avenue”, the phallic sign on the inn, kind of make sense that a sex shop would open nearby.

  10. BrooklynShoeBabe May 11, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    Because I’m a big silly 12-year-old boy on the inside, I snickered when I saw the picture of that sign. It looks like it’s giving me the finger, I laughed.

    Here’s how I stand. I like porn and slutty lingere. I hate that I have to go to fat-fetish sites to something. So, in a way it is progress. On the other hand, I don’t particular want to see lingere clad women on a billboard all the time. :-)

  11. klee May 11, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    “Nips Akimbo” would be an AWESOME stripper name

  12. Ann May 11, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    I’d have to see it, but the thought that I can’t have something pretty because somehow I’m stupid and vapid and a bad feminist is RIDICULOUS. This IS progress. I love getting flattering, sexy clothing, it perks me up. Sometimes I like to look serious, sometimes I like to look fun, sometimes casual, sometimes dressy, and sometimes sexy. Is that so wrong? I’m 41, I’m a grown up, I can enjoy my sexuality without feeling like a piece of meat, and am in a fantastic relationship where we like looking good for each other (or like cooking for each other or buying presents or talking or whatever people like to do for each other). I’m an independent thinker and cannot believe the message people have, by objectifying women by saying we’re too stupid to understand their twisted and prudish view about lingerie. You don’t like it? Don’t wear it. But celebrate women’s freedom to dress in a sex positive way, no matter what their size.

  13. Plumcake May 11, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    @Klee that IS my stripper name! It was a little Easter egg inside joke to my in-the-know pals.

  14. Melissa May 12, 2010 at 12:54 am #

    Ok, here it is. Sometimes I really like to slut it up for the fella. And by slut it up I mean Brooklyn-bridge-leveraging push up bra, heels that make me walk with those pushed up tits all thrust out and hips swaying just to walk in them. I LOVE it when he is gobsmacked by the very vision of me all tarted out. I also love it when he likes me in Keens and a baseball cap. But every now and then a girl has to express her inner ho – because it can be empowering. He also thinks it’s hot when I explain helicopters to him. For me – and maybe only me – being a feminist means I (and consequently he) can embrace EVERY aspect of me.

    And I look sallow in yellow, can we go with black or red? I always feel sluttier in red for some reason.

  15. Lisa May 12, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    @ Ann Who said you couldn’t have something pretty? It’s not about you and what you and boyfriend do or whether you have a good relationship (congratulations on that, btw). We were talking about lingerie, subjugated public images of women and the spectrum of feminist thought–not what anybody does personally. It’s exactly the de-contextualized nature of sexualized imagery that causes feminists like me to question lingerie in those images. Since we don’t know who chose to do what in the image, and there often very clear power relations conveyed in those images and with the clothing, it’s reasonable to question its symbolism and cultural meaning.

    There are plenty of things in the lingerie world that are comfortable and pretty and among consenting adults are fun fun fun, and it’s good to get clothing for larger women. But we can’t act like the nips akimbo in the public realm–or the description of a garment as “babydoll”–retch puke vomit–doesn’t have a darker aspect to it.

  16. Lisa May 12, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    Oh and I just hate the term “baby tee” as well. More retching. More puking.

  17. raincoaster May 12, 2010 at 2:36 am #

    Did they actually reach far enough she could put them on her hips? Because I’m not sure anyone would find that alluring.

  18. La Petite Acadienne May 12, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

    I definitely approve of plus-size women being depicted as alluring.

    However, I definitely disapprove of billboards that cross the line from alluring to trashy.

    And if we’re talking about a yellow babydoll AND the words “Xtra”?

    Trashtacular.

  19. Style Spy May 13, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    I want to choose who I see naked (or nearly-naked). Period. It doesn’t matter what size he or she is, everybody just keep your damn clothes on in public, please. Why is that so hard?

  20. Abbe May 18, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    I saw the billboard of which you speak and almost drove into a bus stop from the surprise. In a way I was really pleased, like someone was giving me permission to be as skank as I wanna be (not that I need anybody’s permission.) Just a treat to see some big girl sexuality in such a public form.
    So if we’re gonna have tits on billboards, and realistically we’ll always have tits on billboards, I’m happy to have some options beyond petite blonds with daddy issues.
    Xtra however, there’s just no excuse for that.