An American Apparel showroom rep recently informed erotic performer April Flores that plus-size shoppers are not the company's "demographic." Hm, interesting! Now April is talking to us about body image, confidence, and, naturally, shopping.
First: Obviously readers were intrigued by your experience with an American Apparel showroom rep, who told you that the company wasn't into making plus-sizes — because that's not their "demographic." Do you want to expand on that?
We started conceptualizing the idea of creating a [plus-size] clothing line about three years ago. We finally had a complete logo design and we had started looking for T-shirts to use for the line. We had an appointment to look at sizes and clothing samples [at American Apparel]. I became frustrated that the largest size T-shirt they carried was 2x — which ran small. I was frustrated when the rep told me that the men's t-shirts came in larger sizes. I thought it was ridiculous that the only choice I would have with their brand would be to use men's t-shirts. I was truly shocked at the rep's disdain when she told us that plus sizes are not their demographic.
Where do you like to shop?
I like shopping at vintage stores, PinUpGirlClothing.com, H&M, Victoria's Secret and finding pieces at random stores. I prefer my clothes to be on the tighter side, so I mainly purchase from stores that carry items that are made from stretchy fabric. It takes a little more time to find clothes that are stylish and flattering, but once you know what fabrics and cuts work best for you, it's fine. Last time I went shopping I told my husband that I was so glad I wasn't skinny because then I would have too many options and would be in the stores forever.
What's your clothing line all about?
The idea for the clothing line came about after receiving numerous emails from other women asking me where I shop for lingerie and clothing. I always answered them elaborating on my preference for stretchy fabric, but was never able to recommend a specific brand or store. It is pretty hard to find cute, stylish clothing that fits well. I see that there is a huge "demographic" that is being ignored so I would like to provide stylish choices for women who are fashionable and have a body type similar to my own.
You seem to ooze confidence in your photographs. Were you always so sure of yourself?
I was not always so sure of myself. My confidence is something I worked hard on and have built over time.
I used to think that being thin equated being happy.
I was always larger than most of my classmates. The word used to describe me back then was chunky. When I was growing up I wanted nothing more than to be thin. I would see the other girls in my P.E. class and how their thighs didn't touch, and I envied that. I used to stand with my legs just far enough apart so that my inner thighs wouldn't touch like theirs. All of my teens and early 20s were spent believing that my life would be thousand times easier and that I would be happier if I was skinny. Then in my early 20s I lost a lot of weight and became a thin person. But I realized that life is the same no matter how fat or skinny you are. I was in a very unhappy place in my life, and I realized that if I wanted to be happy I needed choose to be happy in my mind. Once I understood that, everything changed and my confidence grew.
I now know that confidence and being a happy, positive person plays a more important role in attraction than body size alone. My main motivation for doing erotic work is to make the statement that fat women can express their sexuality and be sexual beings. I am challenge the norms of what is considered beautiful and sexy. I want people to examine their own ideas of what they consider appealing. For many people beauty does not just come in a size 0.
In the Bizarre article, the writer states that your "boobs and belly look creamy and lush and exotic next to the tanorexic stick clones staring dead-eyed from other magazines." Is that how you think of yourself? How do you see yourself as a model?
I think I am a good model. I have always enjoyed being in front of the camera and have been posing for professional photographers, artist and directors for 10 years now. I truly enjoy it. When I work with an artist, my ultimate goal is to fulfill and become their vision. The final outcome is what is most important, so I do the best that I can to contribute in my own way. I see myself as bowl of fruit or a piece of clay — a subject doing my part to give the artist freedom to create. I like the history and culture of art and come from a creative family. It feels nice to participate in the making of art.
How do you feel about being positioned as an "alternative" to traditional models?
I am an alternative to "traditional" models. However, my image has been used by corporations to sell books, magazines, DVDs and my own toy. It is inspiring to know that people have been receptive to my image.
Recently, Robbie Myers, the editor in chief of Elle magazine, said "average women are not actually inspired to look at women who look like them." Do you agree?
I could not disagree more! I would love to show Ms. Myers the countless emails I receive on a regular basis from women who tell me the polar opposite of this statement. These letters are sincere and heartfelt and demonstrate the real power of seeing women who look them in the media. I have heard from women who say they felt very bad about themselves. They tell me that they couldn't understand why their partner found them attractive and the problems that arose from that. They share that reading about me changed the way they saw themselves and that they began to feel better, and have improved attitudes towards their own bodies. I have heard from women who keep issues of magazines I am featured in to read when they are having a particularly bad day. They thank me for changing how they feel about their own bodies and on for representing a body type that they can identify with. These emails come from all over the world and almost daily.
Are people in the adult entertainment world accepting of your size? Have you ever been asked to lose weight or turned down for an opportunity because of your size?
The adult entertainment industry has been very accepting of my size and my projects. Professionally, I set very high expectations for the companies I work with because I work extremely hard at being a great performer. I am passionate and enthusiastic, and I always give 1000% of myself to create a good scene. I set high standards, and for this reason I have had very few instances where I have been treated poorly because of my weight.
Do you think that there is a difference in the way that fat men and fat women are treated?
I know that men and women are treated differently on many, if not all levels. I would expect that body size also plays into this equation. Men are probably discriminated against in reference to body size, but I think society is a little more accepting of a larger man. Fat men are seen as powerful and authoritative. For example, the character Don Corleone, Notorious B.I.G., and even Santa Claus are all powerful cultural icons, whose weight is seldom discussed. Women are judged differently and are scrutinized more than men. Fat women are often seen as the subject of jokes and ridicule. Every detail of any sized woman can be dissected and examined to a fault. Our added weight literally adds to the list of issues women have to deal with.
What are your thoughts on chubby chasers and fat fetishists?
I guess there are two different types of chubby chasers/fat fetishists. There is the type who is proud of their preference for a fleshier partner. Some people are naturally more attracted to and excited by a fuller body type. These fat lovers are not embarrassed by what turns them on.
Then there are the chubby chasers who are ashamed of their desires and hide them. I once had a discussion with a guy who said he only had relationships with fit, thin women. He told me that he always cheated on his girlfriends with fat girls. He went into great detail explaining how he was more turned on by fat girls and how the sex with them was a lot better. When I asked him why he couldn't just have a relationship with a fat girl he couldn't answer.
What I have learned is that there is something out there for everyone. It's a huge world, and everyone is different.
What do you say to people who would call you "unhealthy" because of your weight?
I am healthy. I see my doctor regularly and try to eat well and do some physical activity. However, the focus of my work is not on physical health. I am not a healthcare professional, so I am not qualified to be making statements on health. My intention is focused on the health of self esteem, and the health of women not hating their bodies, or feeling like they are less worthy of a person because they do not fit in to what is typically considered a "desirable" body size.
I couldn't help but notice that you have a "voluptuous cyberskin pussy" for sale. Do you know how many you have sold?
Thousands of the Voluptuous Cyberskin Pussies have been sold worldwide!
Another cool thing that came from the toy was the April Flores Toy Show. The show has exhibited in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia. One artist created a "Snatch Dragon"; another painted a tiger design called "Eat My Pussy Right,"; and another painted the mold gold and encrusted it with jewels, giving it the title "Diamond In The Muff."
What was it like to have a cast/mold of your crotch made?
The casting process felt wonderful. I basically laid on a table and relaxed while the casting team did all the hard work. There is a true science to creating a mold from a human body. There were several steps involved, but I spent the time watching the casting team while they worked quickly and efficiently. I was also thinking how awesome and surreal it was that an actual toy molded from my body was being created!
It took about six months from the molding process to receive a prototype. The very first thing I noticed about the toy was its substantial weight. It weighs almost eight pounds, and I kept joking that it was my baby. I could not stop studying the toy up close because I had never seen my vagina from that angle without the use of a mirror. It was truly extraordinary how realistic it looked and felt. Cyberskin warms to body temperature and feels just like human flesh so I just kept squeezing its thighs and belly, watching it jiggle.
You're working on music? What is your ultimate goal, in terms of your career?
My ultimate career goal is to keep working hard, pushing myself and to continue growing. My music project is more of a performance art project. I consider myself a performance artist and the music will be a new way of challenging and expressing myself. The music itself is dance oriented, club electronic music from various musicians and producers that have provided songs for my films. My first single will be F.A.T.T.Y. : "Fabulous All The Time Y'all."
Any last words?
I am currently interviewing my friends for a documentary I am directing called The Women I Know. I am doing this documentary because some of the most interesting, genuine, sincere, driven women I have met have also been adult performers and/or working in the sex industry. I am so tired of people recycling old ideas and projecting their opinions on why they think we choose sex work. I have read countless opinions about our lives and what people think our motivations are. They often create these false views on us which are judgmental and entirely inaccurate. We are not victims; we are doing this by choice and having a whole lot of fun while doing it. We are not damaged or unambitious or destroying our lives. We are defining and in control of our sexuality in our own terms.
Fatty D [April Flores Official Site]
Related: "Not Our Demographic": American Apparel Denies My Existence [My Unacceptable Body]
April Flores [Bizarre]
April Flores' Voluptuous CyberSkin® Pussy [Topco]
April Flores XXX-Rated Toy Show [AVN]
Her Plastic Vagina / Violet Blue: Porn Star April Flores Tells All About Her Body Part Sex Toy [SF Gate]
April Flores And Topco Team for First BBW Repro [AVN]
[Lead image by Daniel Rorman; image below by Carlos Batts.]