Down mammary lane

In case some of you missed the media flap last week, Lane Bryant — a company that specializes in lingerie for plus-sized women — was supposed to have aired an advertisement on the popular American TV show Dancing With The Stars (ABC Network). After several demands to edit the content, ABC finally decided to not air the 30 second spot, which shows a very attractive size 16 Ashely Graham trying on various undergarments, and opening her phone to show an appointment “Meet Dan for Lunch”. At the end of the spot, she is wearing a racy red bra and donning a trench coat. She then leaves the house for her lunch date, pausing only to turn back to look conspiratorially at the camera.

While the reasons ABC refused the ad are still unclear, Lane Bryant contends that it’s because the spot featured a plus-sized (or as Lane Bryant terms them: full-figured) model ; their claim is that she shows no more skin than one normally sees on Victoria’s Secret models, or indeed, on many other ads featuring women in lingerie or bathing suits. For that matter, on the various media blogs, many people observed that the costumes on DWTS are often much more revealing.

Femmedia blog Jezebel posted one of the letters from ABC to Lane Bryant, detailing time slots when the ad would not be allowed ( primarily during family hours and specific tv shows). Interestingly, during daytime dramas was fine, as was the post 9pm slot — except during DWTS.

Lane Bryant took the disagreement public, and posted details on their company blog Inside Curve.

“ABC’s statement that ‘Lane Bryant was treated absolutely no differently than any advertiser for the same product’ is simply not true.  It was only after we got the rejection and raised the fact that they were operating under a double standard that they reluctantly agreed to put us in the last pod of the program.  The Victoria’s Secret ads, which had aired on Dancing With the Stars prior to the date our ad was rejected, were not subject to the same restrictions.  We have records of their ads airing in earlier time slots,” a Lane Bryant spokesman said.

Elsewhere on their blog, they have this:

Yes, these are the same networks that have scantily-clad housewives so desperate they seduce every man on the block, and don’t forget Bart Simpson, who has shown us the moon more often than NASA, all during what they call “prime time.”

We knew the ads were sexy, but they are not salacious.  Our new commercials represent the sensuality of the curvy woman who has more to show the world than the typical waif-like lingerie model.  What we didn’t know was that the networks, which regularly run Victoria’s Secret and Playtex advertising on the very shows from which we’re restricted, would object to a different view of beauty.  If Victoria’s Secret and Playtex can run ads at any time during the 9pm to 10pm hour, why is Lane Bryant restricted only to the final 10 minutes?

While it’s no secret that Victoria’s Secret “The Nakeds” ads are prancing around on major networks leaving little to the imagination, steaming up t.v. screens and baring nearly everything but their souls, our sultry siren who shows sophisticated sass is somehow deemed inappropriate. The network exclaimed, she has “too much cleavage”  Gasp!

Personally, I don’t think that there can be “too much” cleavage, but I am aware that some people have nothing better to do than to write in to TV networks to complain about such thing.

Interestingly, one of the the discussions that I read regarding this situation (which I can’t find right now) was that the underlying issue was not the cleavage itself, but the concept that while the Victoria’s Secret models were sexy, the Lane Bryant model was sexual and sensual. Being plus-sized indicated that she had appetites, and not just for food. That pushed the ad spot from merely displaying lingerie to displaying wantonness. In essence, the VS women are no more than clothes racks, and therefore, safe enough to show on TV; the luscious Ashely Graham, in contrast, was displaying her intentions, i.e., her expectation that those pretty underthings were going to lead to something kinky.

I don’t have any thoughts on this with regard to the reasoning. I do think that had VS come up with a similar ad, then it probably would have been placed. I do agree that showing a normal woman (i.e., normal according to US media standards, meaning a woman that  looks like Eva Mendez or Tyra Banks) would probably have made the network more prone to allowing the ad, and I’m inclined to agree with the idea that a full-figured woman in such an overtly sexual context is a bit too forward for prime time, and most likely scared the network execs, who are trying to prevent controversy so as not to scare off future ad clients.

One more point: The model, in picking out enticing clothing for a kinky lunch date, is shown in a very sex-positive role. This is not typical in American television, where most actresses are no bigger than a size 4. Larger women with sexual appetites are often portrayed for laughs, if not some degree of humiliation. The commercial, in portraying a woman who is going after a man in an aggressive manner goes against the current media trends; guaranteed that ABC execs did not want to deal with the expected flurry of emails from shocked viewers.

If you think that the lovely Ashely Graham looks familiar, it’s because you might have seen her back in October, right here on The Edge of Vanilla.

ETA: Just as I was finishing this post (about 9:50 pm EDT), Fox aired this ad during the end of American Idol. Again, it’s during the very last segment of the show.

Mrs. Edge asked “Was that it? What was all the fuss about?” Good question.

About Tom Allen

The Grey Geezer Dauntless defender of, um, something that needed dauntless defending. Dammit, I can't read this script without my glasses. Hey, you kids, get off my damn lawn!
This entry was posted in Appearance, BBW, Body Image, Culture, Media, Sexuality & Relationships and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Down mammary lane

  1. sulpicia says:

    That ad was just plain sexy.

    I have to stop reading blogs that point out this stuff. It depresses me. Or maybe I need to jump in with diatribes on the inanity of current culture and how slily are the naysayers of the life of LIVING. Meh. Going back to my reading. ‘Cause even when I jump in I am so inarticulate I want to jump off my little roof and break my leg. Fucking bullshit.


  2. I think if anything, it might be the text, plus her walking out the door with virtually nothing on underneath her coat. It kind of screamed “quckie for lunch”, which may be what offended the censors. Just a possibility.

    Ok, I’m off for my ‘lunch break’ now. 🙂


  3. Billus says:

    My guess would be that the network honchos are mostly overweight, middle-aged guys who secretly hanker after the models on Victoria’s Secrets ads. Any deviation from that norm, such as Ms. Graham, is, in their eyes, an ugly fat chick. Who would be turned on by that?

    It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Lane Bryant had also submitted the same ad but with a smaller model.


  4. Tom Allen says:

    If you believe the adage that no publicity is bad publicity, then Lane Bryant has just had a boatload of plus-points come their way. Not only did they get the ad to air, but they got probably 10 times as many views through Youtube.

    Bonus: Now hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people who had no idea who or what Lane Bryant was now know about it.


  5. roo-roo says:

    She’s considered plus-sized? Really?


  6. Jz says:

    I’m with sulpicia.
    I’d vent but I would become inarticulate in my agitation.
    I’ll just note that size 4’s really just don’t fill out their lingerie nearly as well as Ashely.


  7. The Reader says:

    I am female, and well, chunky. Smaller than this model, but not by much.

    And I know, to my horror, that I am so trained, so conditioned, that I simply cannot make my mind accept that a man could genuinely look at my body and find it as attractive as a slim girl.

    I just can’t. I’ve tried. I’m trying now. But I can’t.

    I know men can love me for everything else (brain, heart, personality etc etc), but I can’t accept that my body, with its lumps and squishy bits, could be desired or PREFERRED, rather than tolerated. I feel that I am desired in spite of body, not because of it.

    Sad. I know. But its the product of 40 years of conditioning, and of walking in to shops and looking at racks and racks of clothes that aren’t designed for me, that won’t do up, that stop the size below mine. And its just about impossible to shake. So please don’t tell me about my inner goddess etc because that just pisses me off.

    I wonder if I will ever feel differently. I hope so. But I doubt it.

    I wonder how it feels, to believe that you’re beautiful?


    • Lady Pants says:

      hello there Ms. Reader….

      Sorry to butt in, but I just had to say how sad this makes me.
      I spent my teens and early twenties constantly constructing new ways to loathe my self. Even though I am ‘average’ to ‘slim’ sized, the message ‘you’re not good enough’ just got drummed into my head to the point where I believed nothing else.

      But one day it changed for me.

      I really really really hope that one day you can feel beautiful, too.


    • Tom Allen says:

      This is a difficult problem. A thousand other people can think you’re attractive, but if you don’t feel it yourself, then nothing they do will feel real for you.

      If it helps any, let me just mention that men – with some exceptions, and note that these are *exceptions* – don’t care about a few extra pounds here, a squishy bit there. That’s because we are not nearly as critical of women’s bodies as women are of each other. And not to put too fine a point on it, but Dan Savage’s suggestion to be GGG – Good, Giving, and Game – goes a long way to help men ignore those bits about which you, yourself aren’t happy.


  8. Fusion says:

    if that guy Dan was real, he’d be a very lucky man, Ashley is hot.
    And to The Reader: I understand what you’re saying, my wife was the same way. She didn’t understand I loved her just the way she was and kept trying to change herself through surgury up until she died. My GF now who is plus sized, is comfortable with her self image, and we’re very happy together. But I know, years of conditioning is a bitch to overcome. I hope you can find a way through it.


  9. Cat says:

    I have to say 1st and foremost Ashley is hardly a “regular” sized woman. She must be what plus sized is for television or something. And maybe I am just cynical but I believe a lot of this has been fabricated by Lane Bryant to pull everyone’s attention away from Jon and Kate or Sandra Bullock. I don’t believe any of the so called controversies of the media these days is anything but the new way they advertise.


  10. susan's pet says:

    Assholes. A woman can be beautyful regardless of size.


  11. Milliscent says:

    I found it to be a very sexy ad. I also agree that it is no worse than much prime time fare, and should have been allowed to run.

    As was pointed out though, the controversy certainly got some great exposure for Lane Bryant.


  12. Elle says:

    I agree with Mrs. Edge: what’s the fuss about? I see nothing more shocking in this ad than in anything I’ve seen aired on TV. It’s sexy, yes, but it’s classy.


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