Tag Archives: self esteem

Esquire Castrates Big & Tall Men

4 Sep

SANDRA-3742_FotorI’m speechless. I’m offended. I’m pacing around my home grasping at my hair muttering, “I can’t even. I can’t even!” Esquire Magazine just blew my mind. In an age where the women’s fashion industry is beginning to embrace plus size models and queen size fashion choice is skyrocketing, Esquire Magazine just shined a big ol’ spotlight on how the men’s fashion industry disrespects, marginalizes and dehumanizes men because of their body size.

Let’s rewind. I’ve had a plus size boyfriend several times in my life. Soon into the relationship, I would discover that my partner had given up on fashion beyond generic basics. In my role, I would desperately search the racks and internets for interesting ways to help clothe my beau, finding only the dated polos of big & tall behemoths, the scratchy, boxy button downs of department stores and the preppy cashmere of Ralph Lauren. Major turn offs, all of them. I have found the plus sized men’s fashion industry to be a bleak landscape with a pauper’s helping of fashion advice to boot.

Enter Esquire Magazine’s article this month, titled “The Portly Man’s Guide to Style.” The piece tricks unsuspecting men earnestly searching for help with a reassurance that “all bodies are beautiful” before kicking them right where they’re prettiest, using language like “bloated”  “sagging” “repulsive” “dank” and “obese” to describe them. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 3.22.56 AM

I searched out the author, Josh Ozersky. On twitter, he responded to a tweet asking him about his cruel article with, “Um, yes. It is a joke.” Okaaaaaay. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 3.25.02 AM

Three short paragraphs in, Ozersky offers us a GIF of Homer Simpson sporting a MuuMuu as the solution to ill-fitting dress shirts. In a more enlightened era, that might be funny. I wouldn’t know. I don’t time travel. For now, if you find yourself in a body the world laughs at, finding an article like this in your Google search can be downright castrating. As a woman who has had to manage the fallout, I must admit I feel no tickle. 

I dug further. The author defended himself on twitter, saying that “I actually addressed this for real in an Esquire video I shot in Hong Kong.” So I looked up the video. “Addressing this” is a stretch as it follows his trip to a custom suit tailor and offers nothing in the way of paying off what his article promised. 


In the extensive fitting process, the self-described portly Ozersky reveals himself to be a man much like the victims of his farce-of-an-article. He struggles to look attractive:

“It’s a furtive hope, even possibly a long shot that I will look elegant after this. I have my fingers crossed.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 4.30.41 AM

He struggles to feel normal:

“This is actually very fun. I feel like a regular man.”

He struggles against the joke society dictates he must be:

“Here I am, transformed to an Esquire man from a mere gluttonous shlub. It’s an inspiration to men like us anywhere.”

Yes, an inspiration to men like him everywhere, until he tossed a MuuMuu right in their faces. Ozarsky looks dashing in his suit, just as most men do with a good tailor. But not all men have access to the bespoke, and in the search for hope, he took the frozen tundra of men’s plus size fashion and made it even icier. 

So let’s examine the broader problem by taking its temperature. Searching “Big & Tall Fashion” at Esquire.com brings up a first page of results about abortion, fast food, the Big Bang Theory, bitcoin and the Emmy’s. Nothing on Big & Tall tips or fashion. Esquire and most men’s fashion blogs do zip zero zilch for this corner of the market, with little more than a single article spouting off the same, uninspired advice found on every other site.

chubstr_logo_300x300_400x400Thankfully, help is on the horizon. Just look at fashion blog Chubstr.com, tagline, “Life in Your Size,” though some blokes flinch at the sound of their name choice. I’m also curious to see the stylings of the new Marc Ecko Cut & Sew line, as their size chart is mightily inclusive. (I heard about Cut & Sew on some obscure discussion forum of big & tall men at their wits end.) 

So, back to my flailing. I am still raging with a fire burning in a place that does not have words. I understand now where Ozarsky might be coming from. It’s familiar to me. I have loved men convinced of their own sexlessness, having never felt free to exist outside of a punchline. It’s a sad thing to see an industry strip so much dignity from someone I love so dear, and it’s a bullying thing to see one man thrust his suffering onto his brethren. 

Oh Esquire, it’s not that I don’t have a sense of humor. It’s just that I have a heart as well, and right now it’s broken. 

Hilarious Hate Mail

30 Apr

It’s been an interesting few months. It’s the first time I’ve slowed down enough to calmly take solid inventory of my life, my work and my direction. Since Dave Ross, my former co-host, left the show in March, I’ve experienced a marvelous uptick in how many people hate me, my work and my show. It nearly matches how many hate emails I received over bringing on a co-host in the first place. 

I’ve learned something deep in my butterfly place from this and it has toughened me. Forever and ever I will know that I cannot please everyone. And when I evolve, as we humans tend to do within our lifetime, some people’s expectations about what I provide them as a humongous sex nerd will not be met. Apologies ahead of time.

To my delight, I received a miserable email yesterday from a listener named “J R.” Take a gander:

“Hey, I’m a straight male who recently heard about your podcast and was excited to try it out. Sadly, it was incredibly useless. Like almost every other supposed ‘sex-positive’ resource, it has nothing to help me express and enjoy my sexuality.

Not only that, but you were stunningly oblivious to the double standards you were stating: I seriously doubt you would have spent the same amount of time discussing the merits of various fake vaginas, advocating for public male masturbation during the daily commute, and having an extended conversation attempting to help men get laid off of Craigslist. 
 
As usual, you’re a sex-positive feminist who is vastly interested in all types of sexuality except those of the average het cis male. Your guest in the first episode complained about the lack of male attendance at the cunnilingus classes – perhaps if you and her could take a fraction of the time you spend discussing vibrators and apply it to figuring out male sexuality, you’d know why they aren’t coming and how to get them to attend.”

I find this email hilarious, though I am not laughing. For all the mental effort I’ve put into using inclusive language and varying podcast topics, this gentleman presents proof of my shortcomings by citing my very first episode. The episode I was terrified of. The one where I was naive enough to record it in front of a live audience. HILARIOUS. 

This email brings to light how much time I’ve spent on cis-hetero-male sexuality. Episodes like “Prostate Play: Take it Like a Man,” “The Penis Power Hour,” “The Man Box” aside, I acknowledge male bodies and pleasure almost every episode, possibly to the detriment to other orientations and genders! I even shot a video celebrating the Tenga Masturbation Sleeve at a time when I was unbearably shy about shooting videos at all. 

So, this letter is welcome. It let me take a moment to survey my work this last while and feel like, yeah, I may beat myself up at times for not being perfect or the best or the most anything other than me, but damn it, I’ve been true to us. All of us. I try. And I keep trying.

Thanks J R and thanks to everyone who has supported me along the way. 

******
SAME DAY CLARIFICATION: Since this post is receiving an interesting variety of comments, let me say this:
  1. Dave is great and I appreciate the body of work we’ve created together.
  2. To the haters: I am utterly happy with where I’ve arrived with my most recent 2 episodes. Either catch up or shut up. 
  3. To the Listeners: Thank you for your lovely comments! Keep being kick ass. I learn from you all the time and am humbled by our engagement. Much love.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 368 other followers