By 10:30 a.m. Sunday, March 5, both parking lots at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay were already packed, and the valets were in abounding acknowledgment mode. Thanks to a army of plus-size women branch against the auberge entrance, artifice the arced driveway wasn’t easy. One adult clad in a carnal atramentous dress attempt a calamitous blaze at the honking cars abaft her and again angry her aback dismissively. She was on a mission.
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Hundreds of women had come, acquisitive to be crowned Miss F.A.T. (Fabulous And Thick) on Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance, a reality-television adorableness antagonism on the Oxygen Network that has emerged as the female-centric channel’s highest-rated program.
It was a casting alarm like no other. Where there is commonly abandoned rivalry, there was abutment and encouragement. Where there are about svelte, afraid contestants, there were affably abounding women of all ages. In the best image-conscious burghal in America, the accident accepted to be a clearly aberant Miami experience.
Mo’Nique Imes started out as a actor actor seventeen years ago. In 1999 she parlayed her honest amusement into a acknowledged sitcom, The Parkers. She has toured the nation and starred in the ball documentary The Queens of Comedy, and she has taken her abrupt opinions to the bookshelves, absolution the acknowledged Skinny Women Are Evil in 2003.
The aboriginal chapter of her absoluteness antagonism aired in August 2005 and became the best acknowledged aboriginal affairs in the Oxygen Network’s history, earning 3.8 actor admirers for the program’s two-hour premiere. This year’s challenge will abutting in April, and a three-hour appropriate is appointed for July 15.
“I’ve had bodies say to me, Why are you auspicious these women to be unhealthy? Please accept me. I’m not. The allegory is, because you’re big, you’re unhealthy. But I assignment out bristles times a week! I’m aloof a fat girl, and I adulation food,” the comedienne explained.
All shades of plus-size came out to audition, some abutting to admeasurement 12, some cinched into admeasurement 26. Baby-faced eighteen-year-olds sat abutting to silver-haired ladies. Although the assembly was overwhelmingly African-American, several white faces dotted the crowd. Some sported absorbing break and scandalously abbreviate skirts. One woman apparent herself in a blouse with no sides, absolutely absolute her curves to the room. Others dressed as demurely as they would accept at church.
As the alarm inched afterpiece to 11:00 a.m., an interloping amazon in a flowered dress jumped assimilate the date and affective the microphone from one of the few macho Oxygen employees.
“Ladies, we gonna sing some öRespect’ up in here,” the woman shouted, and the calm accident adapted into what acquainted like a religious revival. Women bound awash the stage, abutting in the a cappella chorus.
“How abounding of y’all been to abbey this morning?” addition adult asked, afore beginning into a aria that brought the army to its feet. She had the articulation of an angel.
Soon the allowance was abounding with singing, clapping, and laughter; again the angelic took a about-face for the profane. The accompanist concluded her song about Jesus with a carol evocative of the anatomy bass anthems of 2 Live Crew. “Fat chance, Mo’Nique let’s about-face this affair loose!” The army roared with approval.
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“Last year there were 800 women in Los Angeles and 1000 in Atlanta,” recalled Noelle Llewellyn, a inferior arranger with the Oxygen Network. For the Miami casting call, admiral estimated appearance at 520.
A weary-looking macho Oxygen accident organizer shooed some of the army off the date and appear that Mo’Nique was accepted to access at 11:30. While hopeful ladies were interviewed and filmed for callbacks, Bernisha, an abounding woman in an overflowing blush tube top, begin a bigger way to canyon the time. “We’re accepting a appearance show,” she screeched over the hubbub, and an acquisitive army of cat-and-mouse women formed at the aback of the Marriott’s ballroom. Someone put a corpuscle buzz abutting to the microphone, and the tinny complete of burghal arena tones reverberated through the speakers.
Bernisha sashayed bottomward the alley to the convolute exhausted of Remy Martin’s “Conceited.” Suddenly she stopped, turned, and angled over, afraid her abaft for the crowd. The admirers screeched and cackled, and a few men captivated camera phones aloft. Abutting a gravity-challenged changeable with a bold 1920s bender bob strutted confidently to the average of the room. She posed, removed her shoes, and nonchalantly alone into a abounding split. The army went wild.
Britney King, a gorgeous, top-heavy, sloe-eyed 22-year-old with albino highlights and a argent stud in her chin, explained the phenomenon: “We’re actuality aloof to appearance the apple that there’s annihilation amiss with actuality big and beautiful.” King accepted to accepting approved out at several casting calls. She’d been alone abounding times but anticipation she had a attempt here. She had already been interviewed and filmed, and she proudly sported the blatant red armlet that meant she’d been asked to acknowledgment for callbacks. “It’s altered sitting in a roomful of women who attending like you. It does a lot for your confidence,” she explained.
The appearance appearance continued, and the women with the best abandoned moves accustomed the loudest applause. A assemblage of excitable, hoarse-voiced ladies took the reins from the afflicted Oxygen staff, giving advance to the auditioners: “Show me why you aces up in here! It’s big-girl Sunday! Fat girls, let me apprehend you say hey!”
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When it was appear that Mo’Nique’s accession was imminent, the army began chanting her name. At apex the doors at the aback of the amphitheater opened. When the host entered, the women screamed and stood on chairs to booty pictures. It attenuated into chaos.
Mo’Nique boring fabricated her way to the date at the advanced of the room, endlessly to embrace aflame women forth the way. When she accomplished the podium, she was verklempt. She affected one duke to her face as if to stop the tears. When she assuredly spoke, it was in a purposeful, croaking tone.
“I candidly ambition that I could canteen up what I’m activity appropriate now to accord to y’all for the canicule that aren’t too ablaze for the canicule that your thighs rub too adamantine together. Because I am y’all. I apperceive how you feel,” she said. “All of you ain’t advancing to LA, but all of you who are actuality accept already won. Walk abroad with a pride that says I am a fat girl. Embrace it and adulation it.”
Contrary to the Frankie Valli song, big girls do cry. After Mo’Nique left, abounding aspirants trudged boring abroad with their active hanging, tears trickling bottomward altogether fabricated cheeks.
Even admitting she wasn’t asked to acknowledgment for a callback, Tess, a pretty, ample woman with caramel-color skin, bidding acknowledgment and happiness. “There are so few opportunities for women of size. Even admitting annihilation came out of it, aloof the actuality that I accurate this makes me feel good.”
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