Here’s the part where I tell you how cool I am because I’ve known Leslie Medlik, star of TLC’s Big Sexy (which airs tomorrow, Tuesday, August 30th at 10PM ET/PT), for years.
She is one of the excellent and flabulous shop girls of my favorite plus sized store, Re/Dress NYC. I’ve always dug her style — vintage duds, Bettie Page bangs– and her down-to-earth advice on everything from fashion to relationships. Leslie describes her personal style as a cross between a vintage vixen and a fat hipster. “Sometimes those worlds collide and there’s Leslie,” she told me.
So when I heard she was starring in a fat-positive reality show (what the???) on TLC about five plus-sized gals trying to make it big in fashion in NYC, I made sure to get the scoop before she got mobbed by everyone from Curvy to More.
Buzz has been building for Big Sexy over the last few weeks. It seems that when anyone posts about the new show on Facebook, lots of women write, “This is me! I need to be on this show!” So I was curious what the casting process was like for Leslie. “For me, it was just one of those things that the world dropped in my lap.” A scout had come into Re/Dress to consider it for a location for the show. She ended up talking to Leslie and asking her to audition. “It was just really easy and fast.”
Unlike most reality TV shows about plus-sized women, Big Sexy is supposed to show plus-sized people having full, fun, sexy lives. Since this is pretty groundbreaking, I wondered if Leslie had any trepidations in doing the show. “I’m someone who’s very cautious about these things and there is always that concern that, while I had talked to the producers about it “¦ you never know how things are going to be edited or what’s really going to happen. But at this point, I’m fairly confident that what they’re putting together is going to be a great show.”
Given that this is one of the first really size positive reality shows out there, it could have a big impact on how people generally view fat people and how fat people view themselves. For Leslie, she’s hoping the show helps more women love their bodies: “The women who are waking up every day hating themselves — maybe this will give them the edge to stop doing that or at least start the process to stop hating themselves.” She also hopes that people will begin to get the message that size and health are separate things and that attacking people for accepting their bodies is not okay. “That’s the immediate go to, ‘Okay, well you might be confident but you’re unhealthy and you’re gonna die because you’re fat’ and it’s not true. If we could help debunk that ridiculous myth — that would seal the deal for me.”
In the first episode (airing tomorrow!), Leslie puts together a fabulous fashion show, which included some gorgeous Monif C. bathing suits. Three of the other stars of Big Sexy (Nikki Gomez, Tiffany Bank, and Audrey Lea Curry), all plus-sized models, are part of the runway show, yet a few of them really struggled with feeling comfortable wearing the bathing suits on the runway. I asked for Leslie’s take on that. “I think it’s twofold: I was a little surprised but then, well, not so much because this is how women are constantly dealing with their bodies. And, initially, knowing those two, I was surprised, but then, at the same time, I get it. I get why they were questioning it, because now not only were people going to be looking at their bodies, judging them coming down the runway, but there are cameras there and there are going to be millions of people [judging them] and all of these things that start to creep in and put doubts in your mind.” In essence, this struggle over swimsuits really showed how brave a thing it is to be a plus-sized woman showing your body with confidence in a world that isn’t accepting of it.
So what’s next for Leslie? She wants to help more women have fun with fashion by offering her services for personal styling, personal shopping and also some wardrobe consulting. “There’s nothing better than helping a woman feel good about herself, regardless of size. It isn’t just fat women it’s skinny women who have tons of issues with the same thing — not being skinny enough, right? So I want to help women of all sizes.”
To listen to the full interview, check out Golda’s podcast.
Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. is a certified holistic health counselor who specializes in transforming your relationship with food and your body. Go to http://www.bodylovewellness.com/stay-in-touch/ to sign up for her newsletter and get your free download — Golda’s Top Ten Tips For Divine Dining!