Meet the New Strippers

by Nathalie O'Neill

Take your image of a typical stripper and flip it on its head, and you'll come a little bit closer to picturing the plus-size women now working the poles of Las Vegas. Foxy's, a strip club near the city's main drag, recently debuted its Thick Sundaes event, where plus-size women strip for cash.

Thick Sundaes is the brainchild of 42-year-old Sammee Matthews. Matthews, who weighs 392 pounds, wanted to find a venue for women who call themselves BBW (big, beautiful women) or SSBBW (super-size big, beautiful women) to strut their stuff. She approached Foxy's and was originally turned down, which she says only made her want it more. "They said they didn’t want 'big girls,'" she told The Daily Mail. "The worst thing you can tell me is ‘no’ because I’m going to try and I’m going to keep trying until I find something that works."

And work it did. Foxy's finally agreed to host Matthews' event, which draws in crowds from across the country and Europe, according to The Daily Mail. The publicity is attracting girls of all sizes who had never thought of performing before. "You’ve got women who would never attempt to dance; it’s beautiful in there," says Matthews. It seems like Foxy's was in dire need of such a boost.

To give you an idea of the place, The Daily Beast was also none too flattering to the joint in a 2010 review. "The eight to 10 dancers working tonight could be any random collection of average women squeezed into ill-fitting stripper clothes," wrote Richard Abowitz. "Foxy Girls is a small, empty-feeling place with odd-fitting furniture." Glamorous.

That brings us to the dark side of this new show. There's no doubt that Matthews deserves kudos for her business savvy. But is the whole thing is less healthy and empowering than you might think (if you think stripping can be empowering in the first place)? Matthews has sitophilia, an erotic obsession with food. She particularly enjoys sugary treats like cake and sweets. Which is fine — different strokes for different folks. But when a fetish gets you to 450 pounds, like it did for Matthews, it's a whole other story. This has me asking, is the plus-size strip show just as unhealthy as the size 0 runway show?

Image: littlestocker/Fotolia