Mixed Messages?

It’s been a few days since I returned from New York (I miss you!) and I’m trying to catch up. You’ll notice I’ve changed the layout of the blog. I think this one is easier to navigate and easier on the eyes. I hope it works.

Today, I’m catching up on all the recorded t.v. shows I missed while I was gone and yes, TLC’s Big Sexy is one of them.

I really do love the idea of a show featuring women who are confident in their bodies, but are normal at the same time. I’ve realized that regardless of the size you are, all woman have insecurities.

As I was watching the show and skimming through the breaks, I happened to run across a commercial for one of TLC’s other shows, What Not to Wear. Now, as much as I love fashion, I’m not a fan of ALL fashion shows. Big surprise, huh?

You all know my stand on fashion and being able to wear what you want as long as you’re confident in it. That’s where my dislike of fashion-themed television shows that thrive off of breaking down your personal style comes from. I don’t mind style advice, but when you’re describing a confident woman’s style in derogatory terms, that’s where I get upset.

There on my television was WNTW’s co-host Clinton Kelly standing in the mirror with a very confident woman, whom they deemed “curvy.” She was was wearing a sparkly tight dress and fur coat. Kelly loudly states that she looks like a stripper or whore…something along those lines. Huh? What? The sad thing is a lot of shows are like this and they’re popular too! What message is this sending to the young women who watch it?

One minute TLC wants to promote confident big girls and the next they are tearing a “curvy” woman apart because of her outfit choices. It doesn’t make sense to me.

I know most of the women on this show will all say they are happier now after their “make-overs.” And most of them go on because they want the help or someone urged them to go on. But, what about the women who walk on that set with confidence in their style? I guess if someone says you dress like a whore, it must be OK for them to berate you and change your style? Why would you let someone do this to you?

Am I the only one who is confused by this? 

  • Alexandrea Ward

    I also saw that too. It makes no sense to me. Of course there are still issues in the mainstream media with curvier or full figured women. I just think that the network needs to consider what they edit and keep because that’s a blatant contradiction.

    • Monique Frausto

      It’s just so sad. It’s like how long will it take for people to get it?

  • Kimaloo

    I agree… I’ve watched What Not to Wear a few times and they drive me nuts. Every bit of their fashion advice is geared to make women look taller, leaner, thinner, and minimize their busts and hide their tummies. Sorry, we’re not all size two models. I’ll admit they’ve had their train wrecks on there but most are just normal women rocking their normal clothes that they feel confident in and don’t have a problem with… it’s the “fashion victims” friends and family with the issues. I haven’t seem any of the Big Sexy show though… I tend to shy away from TLC but I want to check this one out.

    • Monique Frausto

      That show is a train wreck! LOL You really should check out Big Sexy, it’s a good show. 🙂

  • Blaceyda

    I also noticed the WNTW advertisement while watching Big Sexy, and I agree with Monique that this show is problematic. As Kimaloo says, it tends to be the friends and family who have the problem, and then the poor woman is bullied and cajoled (“if you want the $2000 dollars …..”) into changing. Most of the time the women are happy with what they were wearing in the first place. Why isn’t that enough? Why does this show send the message that women are somehow obligated to look good: show some parts, hide some others, look the way a woman is ‘supposed’ to.

    To quote the amazing Erin at dressaday (http://www.dressaday.com/2006/10/you-dont-have-to-be-pretty.html)

    “You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”. ”

    Yeah, it’s fun to play with clothes, it’s fun to discover new styles, and I like that WNTW gets women to expand their style horizons. But the bullying and the obligation to look a certain way really makes me angry.

    BTW, I’m really enjoying Big Sexy. It’s really nice to see women like me in a positive light in mainstream media for a change. Plus, I really really want to be friends with those girls!

    • Monique Frausto

      Thank you for your comment. I love the quote!

  • Thank you for addressing this! I was thinking the same thing when I saw it. Ugh!

    • Monique Frausto

      Thank you for commenting Kaara. 🙂

  • Ms. Tee

    I do watch and love WNTW!!!
    Everything isn’t meant for Full Figure women to wear, just because they make it in our size…I have an problem area which is my stomach and while shopping for trendy and stylish clothing I do keep that in mind. It’s nothing wrong with being confident, but everyone has some sort of insecurity about themselves, whether it’s your body, your features…etc.
    Also, somethings aren’t age appropriate to wear!!!
    WNTW is not about tearing down the individual, but it’s teaching that person how to dress their body; whether you are a size 2 or 22. I also take it as learning how to put different clothing together, that you normally wouldn’t know how to.

    • Monique Frausto

      Thanks for the comment Ms. Tee. 🙂

  • Kelly

    Being a plus size woman, I have a different viewpoint on this show. I love Stacy and Clinton. I don’t think Stacy and Clinton have a thing out against curvy women; nor do I believe that What Not To Wear is contradictory to Big Sexy. The hosts of WNTW have been known to harshly criticize the wardrobes of women of all shapes and sizes! Their technique of tough love may be questionable (I’m sure it has to do with ratings), but their intent is to empower women to discover style that flatters the body and is suitable for specific environments (work, casual, formal). They constantly preach that sexy does not equal naked and there is a time and place and age for certain articles of clothing.

    I’m all for personal style and I believe that all women are free to experiment with trends and develop their own sense of fashion. However, I don’t believe that people should just wear whatever they want to wear whenever they want to wear it. Regardless of your size, whether you are a size 6 or 16 or 26, certain things look better on certain body types. As the writer above says, just because they make it in your size doesn’t mean you have to wear it. WNTW allows women to embrace their bodies and look their best without compromising their personal sense of style. The hosts constantly reaffirm that you can still have a personal sense of style and have fun while looking polished and put together.

    I find that most of the women on WNTW do benefit from the advice—even if the only tidbit of advice they take from the experience is that it is okay to spend time on pampering yourself, dressing well, and caring about how you look. I find that a lot of the women genuinely appreciate the experience and benefit from their new wardrobes. I have never seen the women on Big Sexy look tacky or dress inappropriately. They all know their bodies and what works for them. What Not to Wear simply helps other women to be just as confident and wear what works for them.

    • Monique Frausto

      Thank you for the comment Kelly.

  • Pingback: New Plus Size Fashion Show on TLC? | Curves and Chaos()

  • As a designer of plus sizes for short women, I can  categorically say that fashion is really all about fit!. Secondly, color and style. Women need to be able to wear clothing to their best advantage for their shape, size and skin tone. If a dress droops on you, it will be unflattering just the same as a dress that is too tight for your figure. Curvy ladies struggle with this issue all of the time and short ladies even more. With a limited selection of quality designs in curvy clothing available, I don’t wonder why curvy women throw on whatever they can find. Comfort is an issue they also struggle to obtain. Lee Lee’s Valise in Brooklyn NY is a lovely plus size boutique for taller curvy ladies but expensive and certainly not for the mainstream buyer. I have been there and seen it on the show many times and I think it gives a distorted idea about what is out there for curvy women to wear. You won’t find those gorgeous outfits at your average plus size department in major stores and certainly not in the curvy chain stores. If you are lucky and have a plus size boutique in your area you may be able to find some beautiful pieces to fit with out alterations.However, because the market for high quality plus sizes is small, you will pay a large price for these products. It is not so easy to dress nicely if what one is faced with lack luster, ill fitting fashions available for most plus size women. It would really do a wonderful service if the show did a series on bargain shopping to look great in all sizes, something most women could really relate to as our economy begins to recover.