Just weeks after the release of Playboy’s last-ever nude issue, rival Penthouse is make some waves of its own: The sex-focused magazine will feature a plus-size model in its pages for the first time ever in the January 2016 issue.
The model, 43-year-old Kelly Shibari, already has a following in adult entertainment, having clocked in a decade in the porn industry. But until now, Kelly’s work has always been considered ‘niche’ or, more explicitly, fetish – made only for men and women interested in BBW, or Big Beautiful Women.
Now she’s going mainstream by appearing in the national publication, which is earning a positive reaction from both men who dig a fuller-figured lady and feminists who are happy to see the sexy magazine being more inclusive.
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Breaking the mold: Kelly Shibari, a 43-year-old porn actress, is the first plus-size model ever to appear in Penthouse
Check it out: The buxom model appears inside the pages of the magazine’s January 2016 issue
It’s official! Kelly announced the news on Twitter in November, but the issue only recently came out
Not new to the brand: She previously appeared on the cover of Penthouse Forum, in 2014
Kelly is used to breaking down barriers in her industry. Before her most recent honor, she also became the only plus-sized woman to have her own Fleshlight, a masturbation tool for men modeled on her own vagina.
And she stands out in other ways, too. The half-Asian porn star didn’t fit in with commonly-held beauty standards growing up in Japan, as she had some extra meat on her bones and grew breasts before her peers.
‘The beauty standard in Japan at that time was that women were very small and petite and slender and didn’t really have a lot of curves,’ she told Huffington Post. ‘I’m half-Irish so I developed early, and so when you’re in sixth grade and you have a C cup, all the kids automatically assume it’s just because you’re fat. And so, I was bullied.’
Late start: Kelly got into porn in 2007 when, because of the writers’ strike, she had trouble finding work as a Hollywood production designer
A nudge: A friend who worked in the adult industry suggested she give the change of career a try
Something to hold onto: Kelly appears in porn for people with a BBW – or ‘Big, Beautiful Woman’ – fetish
Though the bullying certainly felt bad, she later found her confidence while attending college in the US. But she didn’t actually get into porn until years later, when her work as a Hollywood production designer dried up during the writers’ strike of 2007.
According to an essay for xoJane, friend in the adult industry convinced her to audition for some website – and her career just grew from there.
Then, in June of 2014, she appeared on the cover of Penthouse Forum, an offshoot of Penthouse magazine. She posed in a black bra, corset, and top hat, holding a whip in her hand, and also shot a spread inside.
The issue quickly sold out, likely prompting the brand to consider Kelly for the feature in the main magazine this year.
Finding herself: Though she was bullied as a kid in Japan, she found confidence when she came to the US for college
Fans: Both feminists and men who like larger women have been thrilled by the news
Not so different: She thinks that the idea that plus-size women can be sexy is becoming more mainstream
‘Adding a plus-sized girl, which is something they’ve never done before, is kind of a scary thing,’ she told Huffington Post. ‘On one hand, you’re worried about if people are going to be like, “Ugh, I’m never going to buy the magazine again.”
‘On the other hand, you’ve got all of the size [acceptance] advocates and the people who are finally coming out of the proverbial closet and saying that they actually do like plus-size men and women, and all of the feminists saying, “Yes, size acceptance, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.”‘
She added that she knows some people won’t like that Penthouse ‘put a fat girl in the magazine’, but she thinks that recent trends in the media indicate she’ll have more of a positive response.
‘We’re not necessarily a fetish, just a preference,’ she told Cosmopolitan.com last year. ‘There are a lot of people in the country who are plus-size. I think it stops being a specialty product, and it’s becoming mainstream.’
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