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Body Empowerment

Chastity Garner Is Powered Up for Plus-Size Body Empowerment

This fashion founder shares how she and theCURVYcon partner Cece Olisa are trying to change the conversation about women’s bodies, no matter the size.

What first inspired you to get involved with body empowerment as a full-time movement?

[Cece Olisa and I] are both women working and existing in a world that tells us we aren’t enough. We can take on the world in our jobs, take care of our families, and be cheerleaders to the women around us, but too often our worth is determined by the size of our jeans. Cece and I saw a problem with that. With theCURVYcon, we want to give women the tools to be confident and understand that they are more than enough. Having that belief not only benefits the women we work with, but also the people around them, and especially the next generation of girls who look to them for leadership.

What progress have you seen in the inclusive fashion space, and what can fashion brands do to be more authentically size-inclusive?

We’ve both seen brands emerge to serve the plus-size customer alone. We’ve also seen brands come to theCURVYcon that don’t currently serve plus-size customers, but come as a guest of an attendee and then in two years expand their brands into plus sizes. Brands are opening their eyes to see plus-size consumers as viable customers who should be catered to. With that, my advice is to make sure your brand gives your plus customer the same exact fashions and styles you give your straight-size customer. She wants the same clothing — not a watered-down version of the original.

What advice do you have for women to gain and maintain body positivity in the age of social media?

Cece and I believe that you should take the time to curate the images you see. If the images an Instagram account puts out don’t make you feel good about yourself, unfollow it. Simple as that. Instead, follow only accounts that exhibit the representation you’re looking for.

What obstacles have you faced along your journey with self-confidence and accepting your body?

A lot of the obstacles I’ve faced have been with weight loss. When a woman loses or gains weight, it’s often put under a microscope with tons of comments about the changes to her body. I want to change how we talk about a woman’s body when it changes, no matter what the changes are, and emphasize that a woman has a right to choose if she wants to discuss those changes. Most people would think it’s rude to say to someone, “Oh, wow, it looks like you gained a lot of weight. How did that happen?” Yet the world thinks it’s perfectly OK to comment on weight loss and ask for the details on how it happened. That’s body policing, and it’s the reason so many girls are so self-conscious about every change they experience with their bodies. These sorts of inquiries can be very invasive and triggering, and we need to change the discussion.  

How do you maintain a healthy relationship with fitness as a curvy, plus-size woman? I was athletic even as a plus-size child and teenager. I have a lot of fond memories of fitness, so it’s always been a part of my life. It makes me feel good both physically and mentally. As a bigger person, I always tell myself, “Do what you can do.” That way, I don’t feel the pressure to work out or compete in an unhealthy way.

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