Big naturals are more than just a body part. They’re an energy, a culture, a lens through which we consume and create the world around us. And while big-breastedness may be both spiritual and bodily, there is a material world and timeline of events that document how this culture came to be. As MEL‘s resident boob culture writer and a woman of breast-experience, I’ll be analyzing these objects and happenings, telling the stories of their origins and their impact on society. This is Big Moments in Big Naturals.
She is America’s big-breasted, disproportionate everywoman. She is the embodiment of kitsch erotica. She is the bodacious North Star of the working-class road warrior. She is Mudflap Girl, and she is the proud owner of some of the most iconic hogans in recent history.
Whether emblazoned on literal mud flaps, emanating from a bumper sticker, fastened to a neon sign or dangling off a keychain, you know the Mudflap Girl when you see her. She’s the silhouetted image of a seated woman, arms back behind her, legs delicately bent at the knees. Her hair flows in the wind — there’s always a breeze wherever she is — and her large, perky breasts beckon you with their perky large-ness. These bazongas are her key feature, and the undeniable reason for her ubiquity today.
It’s been nearly 50 years since Mudflap Girl first hit the road, and like much of this nation’s folklore, she has many stories behind her. But the true nature of her origins remain a mystery — as fleeting and ephemeral as an 18-wheeler whizzing by.
According to legend, her shape was first captured in the 1970s in Long Beach, California, then distributed as a trucker decal by a man named Bill Zinda, owner of Wiz Enterprises. Quickly, she became a recognizable image on the road, shared between truckers and bikers alike. She was hot, after all — it’s easy to imagine bleary-eyed long-haulers hopped up on truck stop coffee and cigarettes cracking a smile whenever she zoomed by.
One rumor repeated through blogs and trucker forums in the early 2000s is that she was created in the likeness of a “famous” stripper named Leta Laroe. In another iteration of the story, she was created by a man named Stewart Allen in the likeness of his wife Rachel, whom he reportedly called “My Mudflap Girl.” Allegedly, Allen then offered up the design to Zinda for distribution.
The problem with both of these stories is that there’s zero evidence of either of them. There are no records for a Bill Zinda, nor a Wiz Enterprises, nor a Leta Laroe. There is evidence that Stewart and Rachel Allen existed, though their claim of ownership over Mudflap Girl came exclusively from their son, Ed Allen.
In 2011, Allen reached out to an editor at Wired in hopes of telling his story, claiming that his mother was, in fact, Mudflap Girl. At the time, he was trying to get a claim on the Mudflap Girl image in hopes of developing an online business selling shirts and other merchandise with her on it. “She’s one of the few really hot women that your wife will still let you wear, because we all remember her,” Allen told Wired. He also told them he owned the trademark.
Only, it appears that Ed no longer owns Mudflap Girl. Per the trademark database Justia, there are currently three trademarks associated with her, two of which aren’t active. The first, simply for the words “Mudflap Girl,” was applied for in 2009 and never approved. Another, with Mudflap Girl facing to the right, was applied for in 2009 and approved in 2010, but cancelled in 2016. The final one, of Mudflap Girl facing to the left, is still active today. Like the rest, it was first applied for in 2009. But unlike the others, it also has a name associated with it. Its current owner, the trademark page says, is Rachel Allen.
Attempts to pin down Ed Allen, Rachel Allen and even the lawyer associated with Rachel Allen’s trademark have proven futile. But even if I could talk to her, her ownership of the trademark may mean nothing at all. There are dozens of iterations of Mudflap Girl from different retailers, most of which feature the untrademarked, right-facing version or a spin on the design that makes it different enough to legally use.
You can buy her as a sticker, a chrome decal, a cookie-cutter or as cufflinks. You can have her holding an AR-15, reading a book, wearing a cowboy hat or dressed in gold, rainbow or red, white and blue. You can buy a version where she’s “fat,” another where she’s a man with a beer belly, and yet another where she’s a mermaid (in case your trucking route takes you through the ocean). Meanwhile, in Sex and the City, Samantha often wears a necklace with a Mudflap Girl on it throughout most of Season Four. In 2007, the Wyoming State Library featured the version of Mudflap Girl holding a book as part of a statewide reading campaign.
So, regardless of who “owns” her, Mudflap Girl has been distilled into so many different forms that no one will ever truly possess her. Like a nomad whose real home is the road, she’ll always slip through your hands.
And some say she is indeed slipping away. “Mudflap Girls were pretty common during the 1990s, when I was still driving over the road,” explains Cliff Abbott, a former truck driver. “Many truck stops and chrome shops carried them in various forms, from bolt-on chromed steel versions to different types of stickers. But I don’t see them as much anymore.”
He’s not complaining, though — he’s never been a fan. “To me, they help reinforce the negative trucker stereotype of low-class drivers with cowboy hats and chain-drive billfolds working their way from one adult book store (with truck parking!) to the next,” he tells me. “That’s probably an unnecessarily harsh take, but I’ve never been impressed by them.”
He’s not alone. Both on old blogs about Mudflap Girl and recent Amazon reviews of Mudflap Girl products, people cite concerns of political correctness as the reason for her inevitable demise. Certainly not a realistic body-type, she’s plagued with the same problems as Barbie or an old-school porn star, most of which deal with overexaggerated proportions that distill women down to tits, ass and nothing else. That sort of thing may have flown in the 1970s when Mudflap Girl was supposedly born, but as Amazon users point out today, things have changed. “Get them now while you still can,” one review advises.
Yet, this is where the Mudflap Girl’s endless variations win again. Despite her being designed under a very obvious male gaze, she’s already been reappropriated into feminist culture — a version of her giving the middle finger was the logo for the blog Feministing for 15 years. Meanwhile, Taylour, a self-identified fat, queer woman tells me that having the plumper version of Mudflap Girl on her car made her feel seen. “I installed them on my car to proudly announce that fat femmes are allowed to be sexy and desired,” she says.
And say Mudflap Girl was “cancelled,” anyway. Who exactly would we say is responsible? Amazon manufacturers? The internet legend of Bill Zinda? America’s hardworking truck drivers, most of whom are currently toiling under unfair wages and a labor shortage? Would we blame Rachel Allen herself, wherever she is?
In reality, Mudflap Girl has become too famous, too old and too separated from any tangible reality to ever cease entirely. In her variety of forms, she’s already everywhere. Her chrome boobs shine past us on semis, Priuses, mom-driven minivans and Harley-Davidsons nationwide. She’s a reminder that there’s beauty in the world in the form of big-breasted women, and for that, we will keep on truckin’.