A plus-size blogger shooting bikini photos in an upscale hotel was told to "cover up" but insists women like her "will be seen."
On Wednesday, Anna O'Brien, 33, the New York City-based founder of the fashion and lifestyle blog Glitter and Lazers, shared her experience on Instagram, posting a photo of herself wearing a snake skin-print bikini.
"I find it ironic that I've taken photos in swimsuits all over the world and the one place I was told to cover up was Las Vegas," the author of the upcoming book, A Life Full of Glitter, wrote to her 250K followers. "Sure, thin girls in thοngs and pasties are A-OK but a plus girl in a full coverage suit, trying to take an epic editorial shot- now that's just too much. Jokes on them though, I'd already gotten the perfect photo. They can't erase this happened. I'm learning as I push myself to do more editorial type concepts, the push back is greater. But that's why I push. It's more than just a girl in the city of sin in a bikini, It's a statement. We will be seen. We're not hiding anymore. And we're going to wear whatever we want, wherever we want. Not just in Vegas. EVERYWHERE. Change is coming; the question is are you going to stand in the way or help us push through?"
This week, O'Brien visited Las Vegas to shoot a lookbook (her selections of the best plus-size swimwear), featuring a variety of bikinis and one-pieces. Before checking in at her upscale hotel (the name of which O'Brien chose to keep private) she emailed the company's PR team and received permission to shoot in the extravagant lobby. "I asked to shoot swimsuits with a professional photographer and included my media kit," O'Brien tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "I received a reply stating that I was welcome to shoot anywhere in the hotel except the casino floor, provided I had no large equipment."
On Tuesday morning, O'Brien headed to the lobby to shoot her first look while wearing a bikini, but five minutes after striking a pose, a security guard approached. "He told me to cover up, that I needed to put clothes on because I wasn't allowed to be in a swimsuit," she says. "I tried talking to him but he wouldn't listen."
O'Brien and her photographer returned to her room but an hour later, decided to try again while wearing a one-piece swimsuit. "We were shooting in a different part of the lobby and another guard approached us and told us to stop," she says. "I showed him the emails from the PR team but it didn't make a difference."
Having traveled to Las Vegas on her own dime, specifically to shoot in the hotel, O'Brien says the experience was disappointing. "I didn't like the assumption that I was lying about having permission," she says. "What did I do to indicate that I wasn't worthy of trust and respect?"
But O'Brien says a larger issue may be at play. While the guards didn't indicate her size was an issue, "Other women were walking around with as much coverage as me and no one said anything to them. I don't want to think the worst of people but in cases like these, I can't help but wonder."