There's nothing more delicate—or hard to crack—than a potential conspiracy involving underwear. Especially when there are two sides. To the conspiracy. Not to the underwear.
At issue: Is the home of Dancing With the Stars out to get full-figured gals? Or is the plus-size clothier Lane Bryant out for free publicity?
Let's review the case file:
Lane Bryant has more or less accused ABC of rejecting its new 30-second, bra-and-panties spot for DWTS because the commercial throws its weight around. Literally.
"We have never experienced this level of rejection," Lane Bryant spokeswoman Holly Baird tells E! News. "We do not believe beauty has a size."
ABC tells a different story. It says the ad, full-figured gal and all, was accepted for DWTS. (Lane Bryant counters that it was accepted too late; the company had already moved on.)
"We were willing to accommodate them," an ABC rep tells E!, "but they chose to seek publicity instead."
Certainly, the Lane Bryant story, which the New York Post broke this morning, is drawing eyeballs. That's what happens when you're dealing with not one, but two, lingerie ads. The second one? A Victoria's Secret spot that Lane Bryant's holding up as an example of outsize discrimination. See, Lane Bryant says it also had difficulty placing its ad on American Idol, even though that show's been running a Victoria's Secret commercial this month. That bra-haha's basically settled, with the Lane Bryant ad to air in all its glory during next Wednesday's AI.
So, what do we have here? A conspiracy? And whose conspiracy?
For starters, neither DWTS nor AI, Simon Cowell's occasional comments aside, seem biased against or unwelcoming of contestants who can't squeeze into Angelina Jolie's jeans. (See: Jordin Sparks, Ruben Studdard, Jennifer Hudson and the "jiggly parts"-jiggling Niecy Nash.) And as far as whether skinny girls can get away with showing more skin, a Fox source says Victoria's Secret, for one, was asked to make changes to its ad before it got the go-ahead to air during AI.
On the flip side, Monique van den Berg, founder of the blog Big Fat Deal, says "there are huge problems with the media's portrayal of plus-size women." Still, she's not ready to call it a conspiracy. She can even see where a network would balk at the Lane Bryant ad.
"There's no question the woman…has more cleavage showing than Miranda Kerr in the [Victoria's Secret] ad mentioned, and it certainly does catch my attention more," van den Berg said in an email. "But that being said, it's a world where Christina Hendricks is considered a 'big girl,' so anything is possible."
Anything? Well, we can't say we didn't warn you. Underwear conspiracies are complex. It's all the underwire.