Take a walk down a billboard-filled street, pick up a magazine, turn on the TV, or watch a movie, and witness one of the most elaborate vanishing acts of all time: In the United States, 67% of women wear a size 14 and above, but these women make up less than 2% of the images we see in media. And when they are seen, it’s rarely a fair portrait — they're almost never portrayed as sexy.
But this doesn't reflect my reality. I am confident; I am sexy; and I am plus size. I wear what I want, regardless of my size, and I don't hesitate to post sexy pictures on my Instagram. As much as it's a cliché, I believe that my confidence is truly the thing that drives my sexiness. I happen to love the way my stomach looks in a two-piece bathing suit and how strong my legs are, but that doesn't mean it doesn't take constant work to mentally accept my body (as I'm sure is the case with women of any size, unfortunately). And that's okay. When I recount my dating history, I realize that all kinds of people are attracted to my confidence, as well as my refusal to be negative about body size.
However, combatting societal body negativity takes more than just individual self-love. Studies suggest that seeing body diversity more often can actually make people more likely to consider larger bodies more aspirational and attractive. So I created a photo project to show New Yorkers how sexy plus-size women can be — by presenting them with steamy, intimate scenarios featuring one sexy plus-size woman: me. The project was dedicated to tackling misconceptions around fat bodies and sex, like fat people only have sex with other fat people, plus-size women don't look good in lingerie, and the idea that fat is a derogatory word.
In the video above, I project the aforementioned photos on New York City buildings in major intersections and talk to the people on the street about what they think. It's not a stretch to say that I've endured my fair share of fat-shaming throughout my life, so I was prepared for laughter, pointing, and gasps. And yes, there were a few. But the support and admiration observers expressed (even before they realized the woman in the pictures was me) was overwhelming.
As much as I'd like to think it's 100% about my own brand of sexy, I know that this says something much larger: Clearly, people want to see more images of plus-size women in the mainstream media. They want to see more realistic representations, which includes sexy ones. Here's hoping the media takes note.