Is 'Big Women: Big Love' Offensive or Empowering? It All Depends on How Lifetime Portrays the Cast

Look, it's almost impossible to trust Lifetime after being burned time and time again by their original reality concepts. But it seems that the new series Big Women: Big Love , premiering on Jan. 1, may not actually be as bad as it sounds. Yes, it's a docuseries/dating show that's focused entirely on plus-size women, and yes, it indulges in a few lame "big" puns, but there's actually a lot to be hopeful about here. First of all, we're hearing a lot of testimonials from the women themselves. Hearing their voices goes a long way — there are so few plus-size women who are in the public eye, especially ones who are seen as young and sexy. One of the most empowering things a show can do is give a previously unheard population a voice.

We also aren't hearing much about how haaaaaard it is for plus-size women to get a date. These ladies are all beautiful and judging from the preview, are very sought after. They're just looking for a perfect match, not desperate for any match. Reality TV rarely gets into the business of making genuine love connections (just look at the dismal success rate of The Bachelor franchise and The Millionaire Matchmaker), but that doesn't mean that Big Women: Big Love has any ulterior motives to be offensive to the plus-size community.

What strikes me as the most interesting (and true) aspect of this show is how the women are struggling to balance the line between men who are really interested in them and men who fetishize their bodies. Being attracted to someone is very different than only seeing their physical attributes when you look at them. But this is a consideration for a lot of women — no one wants to start a relationship with someone who only sees them as an object.

But it's not all great. The whole concept of the show, paradoxically, only connects these women because of their size. I get that they're following in the successful formula of Little Women: LA , but those women were friends before the series, and the connection of growing up with dwarfism prompted some really great discussions about dating, upbringing, and especially childbirth, as the women started settling down and grappling with the idea of starting a family.

Dating in your mid-twenties isn't quite as profound as wrestling with the idea of having an infant with a form of dwarfism that could put them in the hospital periodically for the rest of their lives. But hopefully, Big Women: Big Love will take its cue from the women starring on the show rather than any stereotypes that persist about plus-size women. Because from what I can tell of the cast, the show is in good hands. Hopefully Lifetime just stays out of their own way and truly puts Big Women: Big Love into the hands of the women it follows.

Images: Emily Shur/Lifetime; Giphy