The xoJane Interview: Juicy Jacqulyn, the BBW Model Who's Speaking Out Against Ashley Madison's Size-ist Use of Her Image

We got to ask her all our burning questions about body-shaming, sexuality and just what she'd like to say to those Ashley Madison execs.

Nov 9, 2011 at 9:00am | Leave a comment

Last week, I wrote about this Ashley Madison ad that dared to suggest fat women are so sexually unappealing that they basically drive men to infidelity. I thought this was stooopid, since lots of men prefer a woman of size; in fact, a lot of men quite like the woman of size whose image was used (without her permission) in the ad. Her name is Jacqulyn, aka Juicy Jacqulyn, and she is a BBW model who runs a sexy website (NSFW) tailored to the tastes of men who love big women. We got to ask her all our burning questions about body-shaming, sexuality and just what she'd like to say to those Ashley Madison execs. 

image

How did you get started as a model?

My site started when I was contacted by a webmaster who became interested in me after seeing some images taken by a photographer friend of mine. I had “guest modeled” on various other plus-sized modeling sites for several years, and had discovered that it was a lot of fun taking these photos, dressing up, and showing off my body. Finally one day I just was ready to get off the sidelines of guest modeling and move into having my own site.

A lot of my growing confidence came after reading a book called FAT!SO? by Marilyn Wann. It helped me see myself as the beautiful woman I am, and was truly inspiring to the point where I actually got a tattoo on my lower back of one of the illustrations in the book. It stands as a constant reminder to myself and anyone who should ask about it, that no matter what size you are, you are beautiful.

When and how did the image used on in the Ashley Madison ad come to be?

This image was originally taken years ago when a (former) friend, who was working as a photographer, offered to take an informal set of photos. This was prior to my having done any real modeling, and I found the experience freeing.

Ironically, the experience was a major part of my beginning to feel more comfortable in my skin. It allowed me to express myself in a way I had not thought possible when I was younger and still under the impression that beauty was "one size fits all." Funny that a photo representing such a turning point in my life would later be repurposed as a jabbing insult.

When did you first find out about the ad?

I first found out about the ad from a close friend from the US (I’m a Canadian citizen) who had seen it on Jezebel and messaged me right away. My immediate feeling was one of frustration. This was, of course, quickly followed by anger.

Not only was my body and face being used to peddle this horrible message, but it meant, once again, that my image was being used in a way that mocks people of size. It’s not the first time this has happened.Images from the photoshoot in question had been used in a few postcards I didn't care for, and I immediately got in touch with the photographer about pulling the images. After literally years of correspondence (I’ve saved the emails) attempting to get the photographer to stop selling my photos, he is, allegedly, finally doing as long promised and will no longer be selling the images.

image

What was most upsetting to you about your image being used for this ad?

I think infidelity is horrid. There’s no legitimate excuse for it, no matter what people wish to tell themselves. Either you want to be with someone or you don’t. The fact that I’ve not only been associated with that behavior but used to advertise it makes me sick. But more than that, the most upsetting element of this is that my image has been used, directly, to shame women's bodies, and to make them feel less than deserving of sincere love and a faithful marriage.

What message do you think the ad sends to plus-size women?

One of sneering contempt and disdain. It suggests, first of all, that women are chattel, and that if a purchase loses its luster, it’s perfectly alright for the owner to shop around for the flashy new model. Moreover, It specifically tells plus-sized women, and women of all sizes generally, that, if they do not meet the shallow needs of their spouses, they deserve to be cheated on; that they bring it upon themselves, absolving the cheater of his selfishness and cowardice.

Ashley Madison is actually blaming women for the actions of men (and, I assume, vice versa, in the event of a female cheater.) They are being shamed and browbeaten, all to excuse the behavior of men who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions. It’s been going on for thousands of years, only now it’s being dressed up as some sort of fun, harmless, candy-colored internet-dating scheme. It’s just old fashioned misogyny dressed up in a cheap tuxedo and delivered with a douchey wink.

What would you like to tell the execs at Ashley Madison who OKed this ad?

I’d start by pointing out that engaging in deliberate body shaming toward people of any size, gender, shape or race, is vile and inhuman. I’d ask them how they can live with themselves. I’d mention to them that there are young women (and men) in the world already teetering on the edge of, or already engulfed in depression, eating disorders and body dismorphia, and that this kind of unconscionable and purposeful attack on self image has a very real and tangible cost.

There is already enough pressure through advertising and media to strive for a “perfect” or “ideal” body. That’s just the reality of the marketplace. But while implication is one thing, it’s quite another to blatantly and cruelly mock women who don’t fit that mold as undeserving of the basic human dignity, love, or respect.

Does it strike you as ironic that your image is being used to paint BBWs as unattractive, when you make a living off your physical beauty and sexuality?

I find it ironic to say the least. I have new members joining my website daily, seeking to view my images and watch my videos not in spite of, but because I am an attractive and large woman, so to suggest that someone with my body type is inherently undesirable and unable to find love is laughably off base, ignorant, and counter to all my life experience. 

 

image

What do you think of the Ashley Madison CEO whose response stated that the ad was "the best thing that could've happened" to you and claims that you knew how these images would be used?

With regards to the charming comment by the Ashley Madison CEO, Noel Biderman, seeing as he has neither spoken to me nor to the photographer, he has no clue what type of agreement I entered into. Had he bothered to ask me, he would know that the photographer and I had been engaged in a dialogue over the course of years, during which I have lobbied repeatedly and without equivocation to have the sale of those photos cease.

I was never consulted with regard to the sale of images to Ashley Madison or to any of the other entities that may have purchased them. I have not sought out “fame” in this matter and would never betray my principals so far as to allow my face and body to be used in a way that mocks, belittles and taunts women who look like me.

It’s true that I do happen to make money off of my body and beauty. But just because I happen to have a website, the content and images for which I own and control, does not mean that I’m an indiscriminate attention seeker. Essentially, Mr. Biderman’s response boils down to that old chestnut: “She was asking for it.” On behalf of myself and the millions of women throughout history who have been marginalized by that sentiment, I would like to clarify that no, I most certainly was not asking for it.

Do you plan to engage further with Ashley Madison?

I was sent an email on Monday from representatives of Avid Life Media (Ashley Madison’s parent company), which read: "We work with Noel Biderman who is CEO of ashleymadison.com, the company that placed the ad in Jezebel. I wanted to touch base to see if you were doing any media interviews about this and if not, would you be willing to go on TV or speak to a print or radio journalist if we booked Noel on something? Please let me know. Thanks."

It would be nice if these people were truly interested in a dialogue. It would have been nice if these same people would have been there to stop Mr. Biderman before he made his insultingly dismissive statement, implying that his foul ad was somehow the “best thing that ever happened to me.”

This experience is not something I would wish on anyone, but I’d be lying if I said I weren’t uniquely suited to absorb this particular brand of punishment. I’ve been down this road a few times in my life, and it’s better that I take it on than somebody with fewer antibodies against this sort of cruelty. If this experience affords me a platform on which I may be able to voice my feelings about body shaming and, in the process, bring awareness to the matter, then perhaps it will have been for the best.

Insofar as a debate with Mr. Biderman is concerned, however, I think his snarky, knee-jerk response to the article on Jezebel.com says everything I need to know about how such an affair would be handled by Ashley Madison. This is not a man who respects women, and I won’t waste my time trying to persuade him otherwise.

What is your message to women who might see and be hurt by the ad?

Please, please, please do not let anybody ever tell you that you aren’t good enough. It may not always seem true, but I can say without question that for every height, body size, color and shape, there are people who will think you are positively the cat's meow. Be happy, do what works for you, and know that you are beautiful no matter what size you are. I have friends of all sizes, from the very small, to the very large, and every last one of them is deserving of a loving relationship where the loyalty of their partner is not variable in relation to changes in their body.

PS: After finishing this interview, it was brought to my attention that, despite Ashley Madison's overtures toward "working with me," they have decided to double down on a SECOND insulting ad featuring my image.