Business, Events

Expo for Women of All Sizes Promotes Self-Acceptance

Let’s say it: This should be the decade of the curvy woman. And, if the city plays its cards right, Detroit could position itself to earn her trust, confidence and buying power.

Whether you’re Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Kim Coles or Cassandra Jones-McBryde, your beauty will be appreciated during this weekend’s International Fuller Woman Expo. The event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Detroit Historical Museum, promises to show individuals, the community and businesses what they have to gain from attracting this audience.

Back to Jones-McBryde. She is the founder of the International Fuller Woman Network and executive producer of the International Fuller Woman Expo. She created the event in 2008 and brought it to the United States a year later. I met her more than a year ago when I talked to her about her “Pretty Girls Project,” non-profit organization that empowers girls ages 12-17 to embrace their inner and outer beauty. Its biggest project is to help girls prepare for prom with tips on etiquette, makeup and selecting a dress, most of which are donated.

“There’s power in our dollar; we spend a lot of money on our clothing (so) we need to start having an impact on companies that don’t speak to us in the right way,” Jones-McBryde said. “We are fiercely brand loyal. If I find something that fits right and looks good, I will buy it in every color. I will be a staunch supporter forever.”

Consider this: some estimates say that one-third of U.S. women are plus size, and sales of plus-size clothing accounts for about 15 percent of women’s apparel sales.

When it comes to the Expo, Jones-McBryde searches for vendors, guest speakers and panel participants who “care for curves,” Jones-McBryde said. “I want (women) to leave feeling they have the capacity to do anything they want to do, uninhibited by stereotypes and misperceptions,” she added.

To that end, this is the second year “In Living Color” alum Kim Coles will speak at the Expo about the actress’s efforts to improve herself and the lives of her fellow curvy kinfolk. Coles will talk about two of her programs: Open Your GIFTS (Gratitude, Intentions, Forgiveness, Triumphs and Self-Love) and the Grow-Out Challenge, which asks women, especially those of African-American descent, to embrace their natural hair.

“All of us are on a journey to change something about ourselves. But in the moment, while you’re on that journey, you must have an appreciation for who you are right now,” Jones McBryde said. “We want people to enhance their curves.”

Detroit is the right city to hear these messages…messages of self-acceptance, gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given and a fierce attitude of not taking any more stuff from those who wish to put you down.

Jones-McBryde is an all-out Detroit booster, and she wanted the Expo here to change and embrace the city. She thoughtfully selects speakers for the Expo that Detroit can bask in and enjoy…people you otherwise would have to travel to New York or beyond to see.

“My heart just sings when I go through the city,” she said. “When I (recently) went to the Kem concert, everyone there was loving their life. Then there was the Jazz Fest, another amazing free concert. Those don’t happen anywhere else. I just love being here.”

And if you’re, ahem, a bit skinny…don’t feel left out. You, too, are invited to attend. This is about encouraging women of all sizes and shapes to reach their potential, Jones-McBryde said. So don’t get all worried about not fitting in. You will.

Admission to the International Fuller Woman Expo is $10.  To purchase tickets, to become a vendor or sponsor and for additional information visit www.thefullerwomanexpo.com.

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