Fat Babes in the Media: Magic Mike XXL

Thank you to my sister for snapping this photo before we went into the movie.  colorfulnay.wordpress.com
Thank you to my sister for snapping this photo before we went into the movie. colorfulnay.wordpress.com

I kept muttering that they should just get to the dancing and skip the plot. We all knew what we were there for and that was some hot eye candy. From my recollection (I haven’t seen the original Magic Mike since it came out), there was more dancing in the first installment. On the other hand, the plot was a bit more substantial in XXL.

I’m no movie critic, I’ll leave that to those who are. Still, because I deal in the realms of sexuality, eros, and body image I feel comfortable sharing a few elements that jumped out at me.

**Mild SPOILER ALERTS lay ahead**

  • The stripping double standard. Male strippers dancing for women occupies space in the weird heteronormative paradigm. It’s very interesting. If the roles were reversed with female dancers and male patrons, you can bet dollars to donuts it would not be as hands-on. It appears that when male dancers are performing for an audience of women, touching and pretty explicit in-your-face-ness is not only allowed but encouraged. Certainly issues of men’s (generalizing) larger physical stature combined with drinking poses a possible safety hazard for female dancers. I don’t have any “answers” or solutions, but it’s intriguing to contemplate.
  • Consent. Sure, it’s a movie, so it’s challenging and confusing to piece apart. However, if applied in “real life” the issue of consent is huge. I imagined myself in some of the roles of audience member/receiver (of the dancing/stripping). Being danced on is one thing. It’s fun, erotic, sexy, taboo, liberating, boundary pushing, perhaps. Where is the line drawn? Is it a thong-clad ass in the face? Crotch against my crotch? Grinding? Okay. Fine. Or not. (Your mileage may vary.) How about being set in a sex sling? It’s harder to get out of. What about being made into a human fudge sundae complete with chocolate sauce and whipped cream? If that stuff got on my clothes, you can be damn sure I am taken out of the moment; the spell is broken. And now I’m pissed off.
  • A woman (who is also a POC!) in a role of strength, entrepreneurship, and empowerment. I found it exciting and empowering for there to be a woman who was the MC (announcing the dancers). She also had done a lot to build her own male entertainer empire. Jada Pinkett Smith was great in that role and the character was a strong woman. It was lovely to see.
  • Fat Babes! There was a pleasant, diverse array of fat/plus size/thick women throughout the movie. My automatic thought would have been “Oh they just feel bad for her, let’s dance on her, and she’ll be grateful.” On the contrary, it genuinely looked like they were attempting to capture pure erotic enjoyment. The body type of the recipient was just incidental. As a BBW, I really appreciated seeing my body type on screen, showered with attention and worship. More of this please!

Overall, I think a movie like Magic Mike XXL is not a bad thing. It allows us to play around with a fantasy. Maybe someone who goes to see this isn’t comfortable with going to a strip show in real life. That’s fine. Maybe it’s an exciting way to spice up a relationship. Maybe it’s a good movie for a fun, enjoyable date night. That’s great. It’s nice to veg out a bit and not have to overthink a complicated storyline. Still, let’s take the fun with a grain of salt and question, at least a little bit, the real life parallels the movie is depicting.

This article has 2 Comments

  1. The stripping double standard is fascinating to me. Female strippers are frequently seen as victims, as objectified, and their (mostly) male audiences are seen as the ones with the power. Yet male strippers are seen as powerful, studly, enviable, etc., even when their audience is clearly objectifying them.

    Sure, our patriarchal society contributes to women feeling that our main value is in our appearance and sexuality, which undoubtedly leads some to make money from that instead of one of the male-dominated fields. But still. Female strippers can be empowered, too.

    1. Absolutely! I think it’s fair to be concerned whether someone is choosing to be employed in sex work of their own choice or they are being forced into it (for whatever reason). But people who get into it do so for a variety of reasons – just like in other professions.

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