This weekend, I attended Curves Rock Weekend in Baltimore. As with last year, it did not disappoint! Check out my official review over at The Curvy Fashionista blog! Tomorrow, I'll be posting videos from the event. Can't wait til then? Stop on by my YouTube page at http://www.youtube.com/TheCurvyCEO.
"Life is YOUR show. If life is a runway, YOU are the model." - TroJah Irby-Morgan, Author and Creator of Diva Enterprises, LLC This quote comes from one of the keynote speeches at the Empowerment Brunch that closed out Curves Rock Weekend 2013. Ladies, it was a FABULOUS event - the incredible fashions, the opportunity to connect with women from across the plus-size industry, AND motivation to boot? Stay tuned for more updates on the blog later this week!
Recently a reader emailed me the following question: "I have a great professional, naturally beautiful size 16 sister and I suggested that she use her asset to help others raise their values and build esteem whilst enjoying the moment. Please advise us as to what steps to take to get started. Excited to be a part of plus size explosion, exposure and elated living!" First off, it is fantastic to know that thing woman has a strong sense of self. This is something that no person and no thing (nothing you can buy or eat!) can give you. In thinking of how a woman with a strong sense of self can help build up that same confidence in others, I came up with a few ideas:
Use body positive language and avoid fat-shaming of yourself and others. Want to talk about healthy eating and exercise? No problem. But don't couch your language in terms of "good" and "bad" foods, equating workouts with "punishment" or obsessing about numbers on the scale. [pullquote]Check out my BeauCoo pics HERE! (I'm really new, so go easy on me!)[/pullquote]
Don't be stingy with compliments. Let others know how much their traits and style inspire you!
Take pictures of yourself! Okay, so I borrowed this one from wellness expert Golda Poretsky, but it's totally true. There's nothing like a great selfie (displayed for all the world to see, of course ;)) that can encourage others to love their full-figured bodies as well. One great new site to show off your stylish selfies is BeauCoo.com - a plus-size, body positive site that is the equivalent of Instagram and Polyvore having a curvy baby :)
Volunteer. Your volunteer work doesn't necessarily have to be around body image, per se. But just being active in your local community - particularly if the volunteer activity involves young girls - is a great way to turn yourself into a role model of positive self-esteem for others.
These are just a few of the ideas I came up with...what about you, dear readers? Any others you can add to the list?
A few weeks back, I went to the grand opening of Fashion to Figure in Bowie, Maryland. Launched by the great-grandchildren of Lena Himmelstein Bryant Malsin (aka, the original "Lane Bryant"), Fashion to Figure specializes in trendy fast fashion for the fuller-figured. While I'd featured their styles on the blog before, but I'd never actually been to a retail location. After attending the grand opening in Bowie, all I can say is that I've found my new spot for finding club wear. The items were uber-trendy, yet affordable and decently made! Here are just a few of my top picks from their current collection...can't wait to see what they cook up for the fall!
"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." - Jesus, The Gospel of Saint Thomas Ladies, I am frustrated. About a lot of things. My weight. My finances. My pending spinsterhood.... All of these things are getting on my nerves. But recently, in a moment when I was *this* close to pitching a complete and total fit, I realized that my real frustration is not in the issues themselves....I mean, I can always lose weight. And I'm working at getting my financial house in order. And my marital status? Well, that's an ongoing challenge that many women face. My real, genuine frustration is actually in the fact that I feel like I'm not allowed to vent about these things. Whenever I try to talk to anyone about these matters, they try to steer me away from my issues...to convince me that it's "not so bad" and "could be worse." They remind me that I'm "blessed" and "a lot of people wish they were in your shoes." I get all that. And I agree with all that. I'm not saying that my problems are the worst things to ever happen in the history of mankind - hardly. But when I try to express myself, I'm treated as if I'm some ungrateful drama queen. Yes, it is important to live a life of gratitude. But sometimes, you've just got to complain a little. I feel like airing out your gripes gives you the room to get over things and, if possible, make positive changes to deal with your situation(s). And, if you don't have that space to complain? Well, I find that ultimately it makes me crazier than the situations that I'd be complaining about in the first place! So yeah, here is to being real with yourself and with others; to making space in your life to complain and then picking up the pieces to keep it moving.
Hey Peeps - Curves Rock Weekend is coming up soon!! To help get you hyped, K Staton Boutique of Baltimore is hosting a tweet-up TONIGHT from 7-9pm. If you're in the area, be sure to stop by the store (1007A W. 36th Street, Baltimore, MD) to indulge in champagne, refreshments, AND a 15% discount!!! If, like me, you're NOT in the area, be sure to hop onto twitter during that time and use the hashtag #CURVESROCK
I know that it's been...oh, six weeks since my Books & Brunch event, but I am finally getting around to posting my thoughts about Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. I had heard a lot of commentary about this book prior to reading it - much of it negative. Many critics argued that this book basically blamed women for the fact that they are underpaid and undervalued at work. If only they would just "lean in" like Sandberg they could easily bust through that glass ceiling. Folks complained that this notion completely negated the very real impact of sexism, racism, and especially classism as it would be pretty difficult for an hourly worker who is a single parent to earn better compensation and opportunities merely by "sitting at the table." Heh. In this day and age, it would likely get her fired. No doubt, all of this is true. However, this is NOT what Sandberg says in her book. In fact she is very clear at the outset that she is only speaking from her own narrow experience as a highly educated woman who has had outstanding, high powered mentors and is married to a highly educated man who fully participates in running their household and raising their children. Also - and she doesn't say this - she has the luxury of being in a dual-income household where both she and her husband have built very lucrative careers that offer them not only great financial rewards but flexibility and authority. So yeah. Definitely not the situation of your average working woman. A lot of people used these factors as a reason to dismiss the book and it's concept in its entirety. I actually held this perspective at first. Why? Well, first off, I was never the sort NOT to "lean in." The idea of not taking a seat at the table never occurred to me in my life. Perhaps because this is one of the few areas where I'm truly arrogant. *giggle* I may not be the prettiest and I know I'm not the thinnest, but dammit if I'm not one of the smartest people in the room. Shoot. I remember being a freshman at my Ivy League university and looking around the lecture hall at one of my intro courses. As I looked out at that sea of people - mostly white, mostly male, mostly rich - I thought to myself, "I got this." I've never looked around since. Anyway, I was all set to disregard this book and everything in it because I felt like it didn't apply to me - a highly educated, yet single gal struggling to pay down student loans and make my way to the top while still living the fabulous life. I'm glad that I didn't. And I think others who do are making a mistake. Because, even though we may not have the same financial and social capital as Sandberg, we can definitely benefit from the lessons she's learned, the mistakes she's made, and even the indignities that she has endured. (Maybe it's just schadenfreude but I found it strangely comforting to learn that the venerable Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill asked her if she were a Pom-Pom girl when they met during her internship on the Hill and knowing that people remarked, "It must have helped that you were a woman," when she was named Chief of Staff at the Treasury Department.) If you don't hold all of her advantages against her and just focus on the actual content of what she is saying, you can actually glean a lot of great leadership advice to help you advance in your career. Some of the real standout pieces of advice I gained: Don't leave before you leave. It seems so obvious now, but when I first read this advice it hit me likes ton of bricks. Basically, Sandberg argues that many women dial back their careers in anticipation of circumstances (i.e., marriage, kids) that haven't even happened yet. Fearing that they won't be able to commit to the rigors if a higher profile position, they turn down a promotion or transition into a less demanding job before they even get a ring on their finger. Yet, if they would just "stay the course," they may find that their organizations value them and their work enough to accommodate them when they must pull back due to changes in their family life. If they "leave before they leave" they don't even give themselves a chance to get to that corner office in the first place. It's not necessarily a career ladder; it might be a jungle gym. Yet another piece of advice that seems obvious to me now, but when I first read it, I found it somewhat revolutionary. The basic concept is that, as your life circumstances and personal/professional needs change, you don't always need to move "up" the ladder. Rather, if you find that you want to change fields or spend more time with your family, you may make a more lateral move that is similar to your present position instead of always having to move up. This piece of advice is particularly needed for those who may want to switch industries, but loathe the idea of potentially having to move "down" a few notches in order to get the proper experience. Sandberg argues that by being strategic in making such moves, you won't "lose" any time at all. Stop waiting for your tiara. I blogged about this briefly a few weeks back. (Monday Morning Memo - There is No Tiara!) The notion here - that I found all too familiar - is that often times women buy into the idea that if they just work hard and produce results, someone will notice and anoint them for more responsibility, more leadership roles, more money, etc. Not so. Just like there is no Prince Charming who is going to show up and whisk you away on his white horse, there is no tiara that a senior manager is going to place on your head to crown you as the best employee. Instead, like the men, women must learn to self-promote and brag a little. Of course, Sandberg doesn't argue that women should substitute on-the-job excellence with becoming your own personal Hype Woman. Instead, she emphasizes that this is a definite component of career success that we as women must learn to embrace. If you have to ask, "Are you my mentor?" s/he is probably NOT your mentor. This one really resonated with me. Recalling the children's storybook Are You My Mother? (in which a baby bird asks everything he encounters - including a dog, cow, and a plane - if they are his mother), Sandberg asserts that if you have to ask the question ("Are you my mentor?") then that person probably is NOT your mentor. She emphasizes that most mentoring relationships develop organically as opposed to the more formalized nature that we might have encountered in the past. These days, "mentors" are more like professional friends who happen to have more experience than you. When I reflected on this, I realized that most of my mentoring of younger women occurred simply because they were really cool peeps that I got along with socially. As a result, I found myself taking them to lunch periodically just to check in and forwarding them random emails that contained job announcements or articles that I thought they would find of interest. None of them ever asked me outright to be their mentors...and the people who have asked me outright in the past? Well, I found it to be something of a turn-off. Looking at my own career trajectory, I've been able to identify a small number of senior women who offer me guidance and advice...and I came to know them socially first. So even though I don't call them my "mentors" they have definitely adopted those roles. Now, in contrast to what's presented above, I did take issue with one piece of advice Sandberg offered: Make your partner a real partner. I don't doubt that this is the right way to approach picking your life partner. ("Hmmm...will he - or, for some, she - actually help with the laundry? Cooking dinner? Cleaning the bathroom? Watching the kids?") This is definitely a crucial consideration. However, as a single woman who is eager to find my life mate, it just sort of rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, how many studies have their been about the lower rates of marriage among educated/professional women (and particularly women of color)? What of single mothers - including those who become single parents not as a matter of choice but as a matter of circumstance (divorce, death of a spouse, etc.)? Or, what about those women who are partnered but find themselves as the primary breadwinner? I'm sure that changes the dynamic of the relationships quite a bit. Well, that's my take on Lean In. Did you read the book? If so, what did you think? If not, do you plan to read it? Why or why not? Dish!
"She works hard for the money so you better treat her right!" I used to love this song as a kid. I had no idea what it meant, but I liked the video. These days, I know exactly what this song is about ... and I'm sure you do, too! As we move through what is sure to be another busy (and on the east coast, a very HOT) week, let's be sure to be kind to ourselves...because we do work hard for the money! Have a terrific week, everyone!
Interested in upping your style game? What about polishing some of those networking skills? Or, perhaps you're interested in just reconnecting with yourself to figure out what YOU really want out of life. Whatever you're looking for, you just might find it at one of the events below happening in the DC metro area over the next several weeks. Enjoy! PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Thursday, July 23: Big Words
We can't forget about our four-legged friends!
- Sunday, July 21: Happy Black Woman DC Happy Hour
- Friday, July 26 - Saturday, July 27: Helmets & Heels Ladies Training Camp (NOTE: Use discount code "CurvyCEO" to purchase tickets for $149 - a $300 discount!!!)
- Saturday, August 31: Bloggers Like Me Experience - Building & Growing Your Brand
- Saturday, September 7: PowerUp Weekend 2013 (I attended last year and it was A-MAZING! You can read about my experience here!)
- Saturday, September 14 - Sunday, September 15: Happy Black Woman Retreat (As of this writing, there are only FIVE spots left for this retreat. If you want to attend, sign up right away!!)
- Thursday, July 11: Socializing with Style & Grace
- Wednesday, July 17: Retail Therapy/Fashion Out Loud Fashion Hour
- Thursday, July 18: Screening of Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's
- Saturday, July 20: Style & Image Network Summer Shop (link includes a discount code for $2 off the admission price)
- Sunday, July 21: Fia's Fabulous Finds Fill A Bag for $20 Event
- Thursday, July 25 - Sunday, July 28: Curves Rock Weekend (Another event that I was privileged to attend last year. You can read my recaps here, here, and here.)
- Sunday, July 28: The Naturalista Hair Show
- Saturday, August 3: Yours/Mine Secondhand Shopping Soiree
- Saturday, August 17: Evolution of Curves Charity Fashion Show (Casting for this show is actually taking place on Sunday, July 14 - register here. Not sure what Evolution of Curves is all about? Check out my recap of the 2011 tour stop in DC as well as my recent interview with event creator, Sandy Jean-Phillippe.)
- Sunday, September 22: District Fete Fashion 360 Conference
- Saturday, July 20 - Wag the TOAST Brunch to Benefit the Washington Human Society
This is a quick drive-by post featuring not one, but TWO short documentaries that center around discovering your own beauty when the world around you tells you that you're anything but. The first is a little gem called There She Is and it's about plus-size beauty contestants. The other is called Imagine a Future and it's a joint project of the My Black Is Beautiful campaign and Black Girls Rock!. While you may not be an African-American teen or a beauty queen, certainly the idea of feeling "not good enough" or "not pretty enough" is something that most women and girls can relate to...hopefully you'll enjoy these as much as I did. (And again, they're pretty short - you can watch both in under an hour!) Enjoy!!!