MTV’s unabashed heroine Chelsea Settles, has made great strides since the cameras started capturing her every move, including her relocation to Los Angeles from her hometown of Pittsburgh.

She is now ready to pursue a career in fashion and the next obvious step is securing a job in one of the upscale boutiques that are nestled in Beverly Hills. Considering how shy and withdrawn Settles tends to be especially when she feels she is on display, any viewer would be nervous for her, especially since we are all relatively familiar with the social climate in cities like LA. Living and thriving in a city where your bread and butter could depend solely on looks and sex appeal could prove to be a daunting task for any young woman who is over 300 pounds.

But in the last couple of episodes, Settles has enviably cast aside her demons and fearlessly walked down the catwalk alongside the obvious adornments of models, actresses and socialites, without missing a step or shuddering at the realization that she is surrounded by some of the thinnest people on the planet. She makes her rounds to a couple of shops and ends the day not feeling very secure or hopeful. Some of her encounters are filmed and you can tell as she walks into some of the stores, the reaction isn’t exactly hostile but rather politely robotic. The boutique managers were obviously on guard and knew they had to tread lightly and be politically correct and go through the application procedure, but more than likely they had no intention of giving her the chance to even interview for a job.

Retail jobs for the most part are easy to get as long as you communicate effectively and seem to have a good rapport with people. Most managers can get a sense of whether you possess those qualities just by speaking to you and asking a few relevant questions. You can literally be offered the job on the spot or given an impromptu interview. It’s interesting to ponder how different the outcome would have been if Settles had been 124 pounds, rocking the same outfit she wore that day. More than likely she would have had had at least a few promising leads before the day was over.

Are women who share the same build as Settles, with a goal of conquering the fashion world only able to work at stores like Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart? Unlike their size 4 counterparts who seem to facilitate their way through their careers with ease, plus-size women are judged almost immediately by their physical “handicap”, and so the chance to prove their worth diminishes almost immediately.

It will be interesting to see how Chelsea Settles survives her time in LA despite all the obvious hurdles in her way. This is definitely a project worth undertaking by MTV when you consider the huge population of women who not only share her size, but also her dreams.

– Ezinne Ukoha

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