Sean Taylor is a plus-size fashion influencer who appeared on season one of Netflix’s reality show, The Circle, in which contestants rate each other based on their profiles and interactions on a fake social media network (very Black Mirror meets Catfish). Sean, who was a social media manager for a plus-size fashion company before she went on the show, catfished her castmates into thinking she was a straight-size woman. While there were some detractors in the big reveal, Sean quickly catapulted into being a plus-size advocate with devoted followers on Instagram and TikTok. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her boyfriend, Eric, and French Bulldog, Burger, who is not famous (yet).
Did you always know you were a dog person?
I grew up always begging to have a dog, but we didn’t have a dog until I was in high school. We got Cosmo, who was an enormous Goldendoodle. We always said that he was a man in a dog suit.
As a kid, I had this book of dogs, and I would flip through it all the time. My last name is actually Pugerude, and because of that, I’ve always wanted to have a pug. My dream, one day, is to have Burger the Bulldog and Patty the Pug.
How did you know you were ready to get Burger?
I knew that once I graduated school, I would move to New York City. Before I moved, I ended up connect with my Eric, my now-boyfriend. I didn’t have plans of suddenly being in a relationship, but it worked out so well and we ended up doing long distance. He was in Virginia for two years, while I was in New York. And when he finally moved to New York and we were finally together, we knew we had to get a dog.
How did you know that Burger was The One?
Eric actually knew that Burger was The One. He picked him up, stared into his eyes, and was just like, “This is The One.” I said, “I don’t know. Shouldn’t we go look at other dogs?” And Eric said, “We can, but they won’t be The One.” He was right. Burger is such a bizarre and very special dog.
I love food names for dogs. How did you choose Burger?
I love goofy names for dogs and I love goofy dogs. The combo just brings a lot of joy into your life. Burger is a smushed up brindle dog—it makes perfect sense. We picked the name before we picked the dog.
I love that. It’s like Burger grew into his name. Do you feel that Burger deepened your relationship between you and your boyfriend?
Totally. Especially during quarantine, I told Eric, “Can you imagine if we didn’t have this goofy little creature and we had to stare at each other all day?” Having Burger during the pandemic has been therapy for both of us.
I struggle with too much screen time, especially because my job is completely online. My boyfriend feels the same way. When we razz Burger up and he makes these crazy gremlin noises, we feel so connected. Burger has really kept us grounded with his weirdness.
How does a day in the life look for you and Burger?
Normally, Eric and I go to the office, but now we spend all day with Burger. Eric usually wakes up first, while Burger stays in bed with me for a bit. While I’m waking up, Burger checks out what his dad is doing. This morning, I saw Eric in a button-up shirt in front of all his monitors, with Burger in his lap. I was just waking up. Then, we go on a neighborhood walk to our local coffee shop. The rest of the day, Burger tries to put his chin on us any way he can.
What do you love about Frenchies?
I really love weird-looking dogs and I love short, chunky dogs. I love anything with a smushed-up face and big eyes and a thick little body. And Burger is such a people pleaser—who doesn’t love that? I don’t want to make it about cat people versus dog people, but having a pet who wants to sit on the opposite side of the couch away from you is hurtful!
Oh yes, I love cuddling with my dog. I’ve never met a Frenchie who wasn’t super sweet. Since you have such good taste, where do you like to shop for Burger?
We love Bushwick Bark—it’s our go-to place for Burger’s stuff, and it’s on the way to the dog park. There is also Ollie’s, which makes doggie ice cream. But most of his clothes are actually hand-me-downs. We like to shop local and inherit things—it’s sustainable.
What’s the biggest extravagance you’ve ever spent on Burger?
The biggest thing I ever did for my dog was for his first birthday—we threw the iconic Baby Boy Burger’s Burger Birthday Bash. We made a bunch of cheeseburgers, and Burger definitely got to have one, and hung out on our roof. I think there was a cake, and I definitely sang Happy Birthday.
Tell us about appearing on Netflix’s The Circle. What made you decide to go on a reality show?
The Circle actually completely fell in my lap. I had never applied for a reality show—it was not something that was on my radar. I literally got a DM out of nowhere and, at the time. I had less than 3,000 followers [on Instagram]. I don’t know how they found me, but it turns out that reality TV casting people are lurking everywhere. I was very skeptical at first, but then I was like, “When does this happen? I might as well give this a try.” And it completely altered the course of my life.
Was it worth it? You’ve built a platform in which you can promote the things you care about and do the things you love.
I definitely had some really terrifying moments, especially leading up to the premiere. Nothing can prepare you for the fact that everyone is going to see you. It was just such a cool, unique, exciting, rewarding experience. Of course, I had a lot of ups and downs, but I’m so grateful for everything I got out of it.
Did you miss Burger while you were filming?
I missed my friends and Eric and Burger so much. I was gone for a month. I would talk about Burger nonstop, and people definitely took notice. Reality TV shows have a therapist for the cast, and in my exit meeting with that person, I said I was just really happy to go home and see my dog and my boyfriend. And she said, “You notice the order you said that, right?”
That’s so funny. I have this stereotypical perception of reality show filming, in which you’re not allowed to communicate with the outside world until you’re done filming. Was that true?
We were definitely phone-less during the show. I didn’t FaceTime with Eric and Burger at all. There was no contact with the outside world during filming, but there were some moments, such as leading up to filming or once you were kicked off, in which you could have a little bit of contact. I left a video for Burger, which I’m sure made a big difference to him.
So, how has your life changed since The Circle?
Before The Circle, I moved up to New York City because I really wanted to be part of this moment for plus-size fashion. I found a job as a stylist, and then I became a social media manager. It was perfect for The Circle because it’s a social media-oriented show. I was nervous about quitting my job, but I have a lot of friends who are already doing content creation-, influencer-type gigs, so I had to do it.
The pandemic ended up being a reset for me. Moving to New York and being in that startup hustle culture mindset was not the best way to have a relationship with work, and now I’m figuring out my relationship to work. I can be with my dog all day and reevaluate what I really want.
Has Burger appeared in any campaigns with you?
I would love to be Burger’s Kris Jenner! In my previous job, when I worked alongside the creative team, Burger often found himself being a prop on set. I’d love to do more of that. He’d love it.
I don’t put a lot of effort into his social media. It’s just for fun, but in a dream scenario, I’d love to work more with his Instagram and he’d be more famous than me. And then I wouldn’t have to do my makeup.
Photography by Tayler Smith