Big is Beautiful. This is a phrase the BBW (Big Beautiful Women) and BHM (Big Handsome Men) communities have espoused for a while. However, it’s been made clear recently, that the pleasure products and the adult entertainment industry are starting to realize plus-size women and men are beautiful too. Not just a niche anymore, BBW is a viable money making market. With more and more plus-size stars like Melissa McCarthy, Rebel Wilson and Adele being considered attractive and sexy in all their “shapeliness,” by their fans, it’s difficult for commerce to turn a blind eye to an obvious change in perception about what is sexy, and more importantly for them, what brings in the dollars.
The Market Is There
The tide is slowly, but surely starting to turn, and the deep-rooted diversity that makes up the American consumer (and the expendable income they bring with it) is changing the variety of offerings the market will bear.
According to the American Heart Association, last year their studies showed that 154.7 million Americans ages 20 and older, are overweight or obese (BMI +25 and up) split almost evenly down gender lines. If that doesn’t convince you a market exists, they also report the weight of an average American has gone up 24 pounds since 1960. Since the industrial revolution, larger sized people (mostly women) have been relegated to the back of the proverbial bus when it comes to traditional commerce. Now, they’re insisting they be taken seriously and they’re speaking up with their wallets. Earlier this year, Forbes reported that plus-sized women’s clothing had raked in an astonishing $16.2 billion, that’s up 7.2 percent compared to 2012. Not bad for a “niche” market.
It’s Not Niche; The Trend Is Real
The popularity of at least one stylish online fashion retailer seems to indicate that’s true. ModCloth, which takes advantage of customer crowdsourcing to inform what clothing they carry, has found a variety of sizes that can fit almost all women is a bottom line winning strategy. Sales are up exponentially, due in large part to their expanded size offerings. In fact, Modcloth is so certain that “plus-size” is the next big thing, and they’ve put their money (and their research) where their mouth is. Last year, ModCloth surveyed 5,000 American women of varying sizes and ages, and discovered that more women wear a size 16 (plus-size is considered size 14 and up) than wear a size 0 or 2 ... combined. Sarah Rose, senior vice president of product and growth for ModCloth told Forbes in January, “Our plus business has more than tripled since 2011, and average order values with plus items are 25 percent higher than average. In 2014, we’re really excited to expand our assortment into full-range sizing …”
Strength In Numbers
For the plus-sized population, the volume of their collective power is just beginning to be realized. Larger bodied people are using the Internet to form communities for sodality and support. Body acceptance blogs that speak of the inherently dismal dearth of products aimed to please and pleasure them is growing in numbers and popularity. A real community has arisen, and with that comes a more defined and empowered sense of self. Because of this, what is considered “achievably sexy” is slowly changing for the modern, plus-size woman (and man) as well. They want to be seen as the sexually active, fashion forward and health conscious people they are. More and more, women are vociferously taking to task, any entity that obviously photo shops its subject to look; slimmer, bustier, longer-legged, lighter, and of course “sexier” or, otherwise different than they really are.
Adult Novelty Companies Want A Piece Of The Pie
Last month at the Adult Novelty and Manufacturers Expo (ANME), Sportsheets unveiled its new line of pleasure products dedicated to the larger woman. With a plus-size doggie-style strap and line of harnesses that they plan to expand on throughout the year, it’s clear they have invested some capital into this freshman foray. Rapture Novelties just expanded its line of corsets to include plus sizes, stating that they have had, “a huge demand for plus-sizes and expect them to sell as well, if not better than the smaller sizes.” Crystal Delights founder Shellie Yarnell promises a line at the end of the year, of glass dildos and butt plugs that can better accommodate people of size. (Full disclosure: one of the toys in this Crystal Delights line is designed by, and named after me). Tantus added handles to more dildo styles after seeing the success of the Echo, Anaconda and Goddess Handle models. Tantus founder and CEO, Metis Black confirms, “We were told time after time about the need for plus sized peggers to have a bit longer toy for their partners. We are always conscious that toys are for a multiplicity of body shapes and not just for the skinny minnie models in most adult magazines.”
Some companies have always known. Some well-known toy companies have offered some adult novelties for the larger bodied market for years. Vibratex has long carried the long handled Magic Wand as well as the “Joystick,” a basic “Rabbit” vibe which is curved at an (almost) 90 degree angle, specifically made for “women with carpal tunnel issues, or for larger women needing better reach.” Liberator’s classic Wedge and Ramp come in “Plus Size” editions that can support over 300 pounds, as well as have a six-inch advantage over their average sized counterparts. JeJoue has the multi-curving G-Ki and Wet For Her has the “Two” finger extender, just to name a few.
They’re Begging To Buy
In my “Big Beautiful Sex” (Sex and Body Image) workshops, the most consistent comment I hear is that they didn’t even know Liberator furniture existed, let alone could easily be used for their body type or, that as is an Njoy Pure Wand is the ideal tool for G or P Spot play because of its length and shape. I get tons of emails from the larger set, asking about toys that take into account their zaftig frame. But most of all, I hear a yearning for products made for them. Products that can reach the places that average sized toys can’t and I also hear the frustration and humiliation they feel buying a product that they have to “MacGyver” and or creatively maneuver, in order to be used successfully.
Big Has Always Been Big In Porn
In their book, “A Billion Wicked Thoughts,” Dr. Ogi Ogas and Dr. Sai Gaddam found that when it comes to men’s porn habits, “big is beautiful.” The book was the result of years of research to discover what kind of porn most people search for on the Internet. They found, was that for every search for a “skinny” girl on a porn site, there were almost three times as many searches for “fat” girl.
Just last year, BBW adult film star Kelly Shibari was tapped as the fit model and celebrity “Promotional Face” of Spareparts plus-size line of harnesses. The year before that, Shibari directed and starred in her own highly successful and award nominated BBW feature, “Kelly Shibari Is Overloaded.” This year Shibari was chosen to be the first woman of size to grace the cover of Penthouse Forum in more than 40 years. As if that wasn’t enough, Shibari co-directed and starred in Wicked contract star and sexuality educator “Jessica Drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex: Plus Size.” Shibari is taking advantage of her trajectory, and is now publishing BBW kink erotica anthologies under her own imprint. This steady build of professional successes is more proof that larger ladies are in demand.
The Signs Of A Shift
The tide is slowly, but surely starting to turn, and the deep-rooted diversity that makes up the American consumer (and the expendable income they bring with it) is changing the variety of offerings the market will bear. The adult novelty and entertainment industries are no different. They don’t want to let an opportunity for catering to a fresh, underserved populace pass them by. For proof, you just have to look around you. Remember Jessica Drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex: Plus Size? After being released late June of this year, drake’s “Plus Size” is well into its second run, and probably by the time you’re reading this, will have become the best selling title in that respected series. In a recent interview with XBIZ, drake stated, “I believe we are in the midst of a shift in the collective mindset of the adult industry, as well as society in regards to sexuality and beauty.” It looks like she’s right.
From the Hollywood box-office to New York’s Fashion Week … from plus-size harnesses to plus-size porn, it seems the larger set have spoken and the adult industry is listening and now believe, “if you build it, they will come …” apparently, again and again.