The Curvy Girls episode, featuring Virgie Tovar, aired November 21!
When I got the email from the Ricki Lake Show I was standing in the middle of the Forever 21 Plus section at 4th & Market (not to be confused with the Forever 21 at 5th and Market) in San Francisco with my friend, Alex. We were debating the merits of a studded jean jacket vs. a non-studded bolero jean jacket. I had just decided upon going with the more versatile non-studded option when I checked my phone (I know: rude!). I saw it immediately at the top of my inbox: "Greetings from the Ricki Lake" (yes, that's what it said.. I just checked). I could feel my blood pressure rising.
It was from the show's assistant producer letting me know they liked my Lose Hate Not Weight campaign and were thinking of inviting me on the show. I started jumping up and down - right there amidst the sequined cheetah print maxi dresses and the color block jeans. We did a preliminary phone interview that afternoon while I stood outside the Ferry Building, pacing as I broke down my thoughts on fat and gender, fat and sex, fat and the dieting industry, my fat history. She said they were planning a show called "Curvy Girls." I was excited but a smidge worried: was this show going to be curvy-positive or curvy-negative? Answer: curvy-positive!
I did what a good author is supposed to do when she gets an email from the Ricki Lake Show: I emailed my publicist. She took over from there, and I got an email about a week before the taping date that I was headed to LA and that I could book the hotel and flight of my choosing. These are the words I've wanted to hear ever since I was a little fat Mexican girl! My #1 concern when booking a hotel is: do they have a hot tub? So, I went about my search of hotels near LAX, and decided on the Westin. Bonus: shuttle service + right next to a Taco Bell!
I watched the sun set over Los Angeles and decided to be responsible: do some hot tubbing, get some Taco Bell, watch some TV and go to bed. After the tubbing, I walk across the street, get my regular order (a double decker taco with nacho cheese and a beefy 5-layer with a mixture of regular pepsi and cherry pepsi because I find the cherry is a little heavy-handed in the cherry pepsi) and returned to my room. I turn on the TV and it just so happens there's a Honey Boo Boo marathon on! It felt like it was a sign from the chubby mischievous gnomes that protect all fat people who eat Taco Bell. They were saying: yes, Virgie, you are on the right path.
I spent almost all the following morning prepping for my trip to the studio. By 1pm I was down in the lobby ready to take a cab to the studio. En route to Culver City the cab driver began to tell me about the time he was arrested and accused of theft for having moved 2 bicycles from in front of the pizza place where he was first employed. He pulled over for about 20 minutes to tell me the tale and because I was early and giddy I listened attentively while sequestered in his car. I figured he needed to vent. After that, I asked if we could stop somewhere to get good coffee. Well, we didn't find any but I did find these...
We pulled into the studio lot and it was at this point in the story that the cab driver and I part ways. After some mild disorientation I found the Ricki studio.
Once inside, I was led into the green room where there were many plus size model babes sitting around chatting. I found out later that they had been cast for the plus size fashion portion of the show. Just outside the green room was a magical candy land filled with every imaginable treat and beverage! An entire room dedicated to donuts, a dozen flavored coffee and teas, every kind of candy and chips and crackers, every kind of gum. It was wall-to-wall treats in there! I ended up getting some coffee and watching a taping of the show on the screen in the green room.
After about an hour I was escorted to hair & makeup. I have to say that this part was tres dreamy. I'd been fantasizing about some day being taken into a special room where my hair and makeup would be done by brilliant professionals. There were two chairs and two specialists. I started with hair guy. He asked me what kind of look I wanted. I said that I was hoping for a Dolly Parton/Jane Fonda 9 to 5 (the movie) homage look with maybe a splash of drag: big hair! He flat-ironed my bangs, did some amazing curls, added some clips in for volume, and then took it one step further: he weaved pink tinsel into my hair! Yes, it happened! I felt like one of those toddlers from Toddlers & Tiaras! After that it was time for makeup, and the makeup artist knew that I was down for the drag. She went for the full airbrush makeup and fake lashes. She had drawers and drawers filled with every makeup essential! I got to hear some celeb gossip and I also heard that my hair guy was off to do something with Johnny Depp's wigs after our little hair encounter. I am one degree of separation from Johnny Depp's wig, ghurl!
After hair and makeup I was escorted to my dressing room. My name was on the door! I felt like Judy Garland! Glee's Amber Riley was right down the hall and so was Marie Denee of The Curvy Fashionista. I could barely contain myself!
The wardrobe person came in next and recommended I switch out of the bow tie/cheetah print outfit (boo) and into a vintage purple Hal Ferman dress. She brought in a pink cardigan from wardrobe to complete the outfit. She also brought in some black 5-inch stiletto heels. I tried to do that, but it was a no-go so we settled on the chunky camel heels with an ankle strap I'd packed. I added some sheer pink ankle socks with polka dots (Forever 21) to make the outfit a little bit more me. I got prepped by the producer (who I instantly fell in love with) and then I got mic'd up and sent out to where the taping was happening. I could hear Ricki and the audience on the other side of the wall while I waited to be unleashed onto the stage. I was shown a diagram of the stage and directed to walk this way and that way, behind the coffee table, down some stairs and I would be there in the presence of la Ricki. Somehow I got to where I was supposed to be and there was Ricki, looking all cute!
The rest of the story can be seen on The Ricki Lake Show Curvy Girls episode! Hopefully you DVR'd it!
Virgie Tovar, MA is one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp (a 4 week online course focused on helping people break up with diet culture) and the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She writes about the intersections of size, identity, sexuality and politics. See more updates on Facebook.