I was working out earlier this week when a guilty pleasure shuffled onto my iPod: LL Cool J’s “Doin’ It.” As the fresh nineties beat spurred me around the track, I rapped along to every raunchy word. Eventually, the track got to the part where I like raise up my hands and testify. LeShaun, the female MC on the track, asks LL, “how a big girl like it, Daddy?” While I cringe at the whole “daddy” thing, I appreciate the big girl shout out. So often big and black gets conflated with a sort of asexual Mammy symbolism, and that mess is definitely for the birds.
I also think LeShaun held her own against the self-proclaimed G.O.A.T. on “Doin’ It.” Nonetheless, she did run into her own big girl drama. When it came time to shoot the video, she was pregnant and LL refused to put her in the video, choosing instead to use models/video vixens to lip synch for their lives in her place. Later, when he went on tour, a post-baby LeShaun was alledgely booted from the concert lineup and replaced yet again with a skinnier model. I always think of this when I raise my hands like a maniac to that particular beat. It’s a sort of hip hop cautionary tale, where “Daddy” always has the upper hand.
Why am I giving you a close reading of a catchy, but certainly problematic, song? I’ll tell you why. As I raised my hand in solidarity with other sexy big girls, I immediately thought of the hoopla surrounding the recent Lane Bryant lingerie ad. Long story short, Lane Bryant has cried foul because ABC and FOX had banned the clip for being too risque. See it for yourself.
I do see some things I would call into question (my nostalgia for raunchy songs from my youth, notwithstanding) and I certainly would not call this a crunk feminist commercial. However, I don’t take issue with a big girl (who is probably a size 12) wearing lingerie and planning a little afternoon delight. She’s grown and if that’s how she gets down with Dan (and shoot, it could be short for “Danielle,” hello), I’m not gonna hate on her expressing her sexuality.
I do think it’s interesting that the ad is considered any more risque that what we see on Vicky Secrets ads all the time. (Side eye). And I do think it’s more fruitful to think about the structures that these ads spring from, than to simply bash a voluptuous woman for wearing a fierce plunge bra and matching boy shorts.
Bottom line: regardless of what Lane Bryant, ABC, FOX, the Weather Channel or whoever wants to say, I appreciate complex portrayals of women’s sexualities, ones that don’t simply fall back into the white, stick-thin, heterosexual, or the bourgeois, and I’m pretty sure my crunk comrades do too.