With more attention being given to the plus size market (BBWs) it’s interesting to note that marketers, distributors and makers of adult merchandise, whether it be adult movies or novelties, must now give consideration on how to market to this segment. Women who identify as plus-size have long had a disadvantage finding products that fit their needs as most of the products readily available have consistently been made toward attracting the non plus-size market. That’s all changing as a growing number of BBW performers have made inroads into the mainstream side of adult and are challenging the norms and status quo of the adult industry. Now that plus-size performers have in some way become “mainstream” it appears the next hurdle to jump would be the all important novelty industry where BBWs hope to have their voices heard.
“I think the adult novelty industry has similar problems to the fashion industry — they just don't know how to make products that plus-size people WANT,” says award-winning director Courtney Trouble who has long been a proponent of size acceptance in adult. “Products being catered to plus-size people should have amazing photography, full body and face, with correctly sized and tailored clothing and the same attention to detail that would be paid to a smaller body. We just don't get the same kind of attention to detail that straight sizes get. Plus-size people actually make up the majority of this country, and I think it would behoove companies to hire some of them as marketing consultants and product directors.”
I feel the industry is embracing the notion that you don’t have to be a size two to have amazing, fun, erotic experiences and fantasies. –Kelly Shibari
One such expert on marketing is Kelly Shibari, an award winning performer who has made it one of her missions to make the adult industry see the “sexy side” of plus-size women. While Shibari agrees with Trouble that collaboration between novelty manufacturers and plus-size consumers is vital, Shibari holds a slightly different view on novelty manufacturers. “I feel the majority of novelty products are perfectly suited for the plus-size community — it's just not marketed to any particular community.” Shibari does believe however, that manufacturers of “wearables” such as harnesses, lingerie, footwear, etc., should make every effort to market to BBWs and BHMs (Big Handsome Men). “By making sure existing product lines for wearables extend to larger sizes (and are properly sized; unfortunately many ‘plus size’ lines are still not quite properly sized and marked for the American BBW market), you're accessing a customer base who is not only interested, but very eager to purchase products, but have been discouraged in the past because they are only available up to a certain size.”
Shibari continues, “In terms of sex toys and assistance products, I think keeping in mind what actually helps people of size be more comfortable and relaxed through a non-BDSM-based sexual experience will ultimately lead to better orgasms. When products are too short for maximum penetration (such as with G-spot toys), or too small (such as with clitoral vibrators), solo play can be hindered due to the effort needed to get those toys past body parts such as bellies, thighs, large breasts, and upper arm fat.”
In terms of the adult video market, while the popularity of the so-called BBW genre has risen a bit over the past few years and the number of plus-size performers entering the industry has surged, where the genre lacks is in the educational sex category. With Wicked Pictures recently releasing the groundbreaking Jessica Drake’s Guide To Wicked Sex: Plus Size, a collaboration between Shibari and Wicked contract performer/sex educator Jessica Drake, Plus Size was the first-ever sex instructional movie for people of size. “Guide to Wicked Sex: Plus Size was created mainly because I had received questions over the years from fans, many of which were couples,” says Shibari. “Over time, and my own personal experiences both in the bedroom and on set, I realized there was possibly a need for a film, and I'm thrilled Jessica Drake and Wicked were on board to create this film.”
Once Wicked and drake were on board with this project, Shibari took on the reigns to cast and co-direct this film, with the goal being “bringing the discussion of plus-size sex and confidence to the forefront.
“The film is ultimately for those men and women of size, and the men and women who love them, who may not be in sex-positive or size-positive communities. The hope is a film like this will help them open up and to explore themselves and each other, and lead to not only fantastic sex, but open communication and confidence in relationships,” Shibari further states. “At the moment, I really feel we've done a very good job covering the aspects of plus-size relationships and sex.”
With the response to Plus Size being overwhelmingly positive according to Shibari, and with the DVD projected to become the series’ most successful volume to date based on the initial response, as of this writing, Plus Size is now currently in its second run. “We immediately sold out of our initial run of the title and are now in our second run,” said Wicked Pictures President/Owner Steve Orenstein. “To become the best-selling title in our educational line is especially noteworthy because this genre does exceptional.” That’s positive news for the BBW adult genre, which until recently had been classified as a niche/fetish. “I feel the industry is embracing the notion that you don't have to be a size two to have amazing, fun, erotic experiences and fantasies,” says Shibari.
Other plus-size performers agree and feel the genre will only grow over time, especially with the movement towards size acceptance and body positivity in the adult industry. Plus-size pioneer April Flores, who has also been a leading advocate for size acceptance in the adult industry, recently starred in her first showcase feature for Evil Angel, Marshmallow Girls. According to the film’s director Aiden Starr, Marshmallow Girls was made, “To show [April] off to the world in my way. She is a perfectly polished person and a role model for everyone. Marshmallow Girls was my selfish opus to the glory of female perfection. April is an exaggeration of all that is female. I want the viewer to bathe in her, soak her in, fall in love with her. I celebrate the female form in all glorious shapes and sizes. None is more perfect in raw nature as well as conception as April.”
“Since I began performing, my main goal in porn has been to empower other plus-size women to feel desirable,” says Flores. “Each project I've worked on was done with this goal at the forefront in my mind. I think the films which featured a diverse cast and not just BBWs are the most powerful because they don't designate and confine fat to its own specialty category. Inclusion is something we all want and in my opinion there is a lot of power in casting diverse (not just in body size) performers in adult films. We are the future, and we shouldn't be confined to categories as basic as ethnicity and body size.” Ultimately, Flores hopes the plus-size category keeps advancing in its acceptance with more productions because, as Flores states, “People want to see themselves represented in the media they consume and porn is a form of media.”