The following article consists of excerpts I did for an article with the #UNCG Women and Gender Studies Department for Love Your Body Week. I wanted to share it with you and give you a better understanding of our current projects.
I am Chisa D. Pennix-Brown, MBA, and I am the CEO of Lady Bizness, Inc. My company provides branding and social media marketing for other businesses as well as event production. I have a strong focus on women owned and nonprofit businesses because I think that they typically have more passion for what they do and whom they serve. I started #NeoNaturalz last year in an effort to bring more attention to the natural hair community, women, and more specifically the plus size woman.
2. Your event for Love Your Body Week was called “Plus Size is the New Normal” – What exactly does that mean to you?
We now live in a society that does not make it as acceptable to be plus sized. I recently read an article that stated a size 8 is considered plus size and I’m thinking…can we keep anything to ourselves. Plus size used to be a size 14 and above. Now it can easily be seen as a size 12, which is not necessarily a big woman, but at lease its in the double digits. The new norms are always determined by society and the people in it. Past cultures celebrate the “rubenesque” woman, but it seems as though it’s a major problem in today’s “slimmed-down” society. However, we have to accept and celebrate the real woman and all her glory.
3. You started the workshop by having the participants fill out a quick survey about what they like about their bodies, what their favorite items of clothing are, how people would describe them, and what they would change about their bodies if they could. What is the purpose of this?
The purpose was to see what biases they had about themselves. Getting a clear idea of who is in the room and what they think makes a difference in connecting with your audience. We can’t assume that all people come to things for the same reason. Something attracted the attendees to the event and finding the commonalities makes it easier to target needs.
4. Why is talking about fashion from the Plus Size perspective important?
It is important to realize the differences in women and what makes them unique. We have to take the body shape and need for confidence into account when we are talking about fashion in general, but more so, when its plus sized. Just having to categorize it is one thing. Then we have to think about the numbers and the way that we feel when trying on clothes and finding that “perfect” designer that understands the body of a plus sized woman. That is why our clothing line http://www.BySBenson.com is so important because you have plus sized women designing for plus sized women. Understanding that a little bulge in the middle is ok, but you might want to cover it up from time to time and still feel sexy makes a big difference. When you design from the perspective of a plus sized woman and know what we go through…not guessing, it changes the way you structure your garments.
5. Do you feel that your message goes beyond fashion to improve the lives of Plus Size women?
I think it does. When I started Neo Naturalz and http://www.Naturalz.Biz my goal was originally to focus on the natural hair community and what makes us more similar than different. As I have progressed through this journey I have found that the plus sized, natural woman of all races is really my target. There are plenty of women that need to make improvements and we are here to give them direction, motivation, and enhancement through our events and partnerships.
6. The event was open to everyone, not just Plus Sized people, what benefits come from this?
Perspective is the largest benefit. I always want to find out what someone is the way that they are. You find out so much more by opening the doors to a varied group of people that genuinely want to share their experience.
7. Why is it important to have conversations about Plus Size women?
It’s important because women are the most important population on the earth. We have to create powerful daughters and generations of women that understand their value and their worth to others and first and foremost themselves. I have a new t-shirt that will be out later this month with the mantra “In Plus we Trust”. I think that says a lot to the wearer and to the witness that will see this message. Ideals and images are created every day, but the positive images of women with confidence in size, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. will make people take notice of the “Show Up & Show Out!” effect that every woman can have on the world.