Curvy Girl Lingerie’s Goal Is To Make Women Feel Sexy, Powerful, Empowered and Beautiful.
DailyVenusDiva.com: Who is Chrystal Bougon?
Chrystal Bougon: I am the owner and resident Curvy Girl at Curvy Girl Lingerie in San Jose, CA. I believe we are the first plus size lingerie boutique – brick and mortar style.
Why plus size lingerie? Of all the businesses that you could’ve opened, why plus size lingerie?
I opened my plus size lingerie boutique because first and foremost, I am plus size. Have been since the 3rd grade. I am 49 now. And, I saw a need for a safe place for people of size to come and try on lingerie and discuss their romantic lives. I knew I could not be the only fat girl who wanted to own pretty things, too.
You stated, “I knew I could not be the only fat girl who wanted to own pretty things, too.” Does that mean that you think that fat girls are overlooked when it comes to being offered nice things?
Yes, we are always over looked and often relegated to the “back of the store” when it comes to our clothes/fashion. I live in a very large city. The population is over 1 million and the entire Bay Area is over 9 million. There are 4 malls in my city. At my favorite mall, there are over 150 stores. I can shop for clothes in 4 of those stores. That is a pretty small percentage. And, I live in a very large city and I cannot even imagine what it’s like for women in our country that live in small cities. They probably have 1 store. So, yeah, fat women are very much neglected. It’s even worse for men of size.
Why do you think society, (especially the fashion industry) are justified in neglecting fat women?
Well, I think it’s always been assumed that we just want to hide and not wear pretty or sexy things. It’s been assumed we just want to cover our bits and then go hide. We do not want to dress in a bright, funky way. We do not want to dress in a contemporary way. We do not care about being relevant or stylish. We just want to take the back seat and blend in with the background. I think the fashion industry has really not given us much credit for a really long time. They are so focused on the straight sizes and the bodies that can wear a size 2. They really underestimated our earning power, our spending power and our desire to express ourselves and to spend our money.
I agree. It’s as if they’re thinking, “How dare they want fashionable options.”
I noticed that you use the word “Fat” when discussing larger women. There are so many debates about what and/or how we should be addressed. Why do you gravitate to the word fat?
I am fat.
There is no two ways around it. I have a lot of fat on my body. It’s obvious. I am not “pleasantly plump” or “chubby.” I am fat! I do not see it as a negative thing. I do not take it as an insult. I want to normalize it. I do not want people to hear it as a put down any longer. Those days are over. You cannot hurt my feeling by calling me fat.
I want to help my community to stop hearing it as an insult. It would be like me being offended when someone calls me a brunette. There is no denying my hair is really dark brown. Let’s take the power out of the word. That is my goal.
I remember referring to myself as fat and the person I was talking to was offended for me. I agree with you. It’s not a bad word, but people make it bad.
Yeah, I get the “You’re not fat, you’re beautiful.” Yep! Never said I wasn’t beautiful.
Exactly! We know that we’re beautiful, but we also know what we see in the mirror. A Fat & Beautiful woman. The two can completely coexist as one.
They can co-exist and they do co-exist. I am not ashamed of whom I am and you would have to be blind to not notice the fat on my body.
In the past, you’ve shared your message by writing for the Huffington Post. What other avenues do you use to share your message?
I write for my own blog, Huffington Post, YourTango, etc. Mostly my own blog www.CurvyGirlInc.com. I also write for FabUPlus. I have a column in that magazine.
Let’s talk about Curvy Girl Lingerie. When women come to shop at Curvy Girl Lingerie, what do you want them to walk away with?
We want them to feel sexy, powerful, empowered and beautiful. We want them to feel empowered by possibly learning a new point of view that they have not heard of before.
Yes, you CAN wear lingerie if you are a size 26. Yes, you do deserve to feel sexy. The moment you start buying and wearing lingerie for yourself is the moment you have arrived! You buy it and wear it to make yourself feel good – not someone else – there is NO stopping you.
So it’s more than just a lingerie store?
We are a community! On Friday, one of my favorite customers came in to model some new Kixies thigh highs. She stayed for 2 hours and helped me with the customers. She is a part of my online community. She comes to our parties. She knows my inventory. She knows sometimes the customers need some lifting up and she just jumped right in and spent 2 hours at my boutique talking with and helping my customers feel beautiful. It was so beautiful. Her name is Glenna.
It sounds amazing. I need to make a special trip just to hang out in your store. You inspire so many women with the work that you do. But who inspires you?
I hope you do. Ragen Chastain called my boutique a “self-acceptance palace” in her blog about Saucye’s #fatandfree movement.
So many people came before me. Without them, I would have never been able to open my boutique 4 years ago. So many women like Marilyn Wann and Ragen Chastain – to me they are like the Queen Bee’s of the Fat Liberation hive.
Of course Marie of The Curvy Fashionista. I’ve been following her since well before I got into the fashion industry. Dr. Linda Bacon – thanks to the HAES movement. Stephanie Penn and Marcy Cruz. So many bold, bad ass women that paved the way for me.
Thank you for mentioning me amongst such an impressive group of women. So many women are opening businesses at an impressive rate, what advice do you have for anyone interested in opening their own lingerie store or business?
Well, it takes a village so be sure you have a very wide net of support and love. It is VERY hard work. I work 7 days a week. I try to take Mondays off, but even on my “day off” from the shop, I am typically working. It is very important to have a really good network of supporters, suppliers, handy people, people skilled in social media, people who want to scream from the mountaintops that you are awesome. Seriously, this is so much work.
There are many barriers out there. There are things like Facebook changing their algorithm and suddenly your community of 300,000 people never see your posts any more. Then there are things like the fact that fat women will not give themselves permission to shop for the kinds of goddies I sell. I have customers tell me they have been to my parking lot 3 or 4 times before they got brave enough to come in. Some days zero people walk through your doors and that is so disheartening when you are spending so much money advertising, networking, posting, etc. So, you need a lot of support because it’s been a really difficult 4 years.
There are also some serious haters out there. Trolls. Haters and people who have pure disdain for fat bodies. You do have to be prepared for that. I got an email out of the blue on my birthday (our birthday) from some guy who is a real estate agent calling me a fat useless c**t. Just totally out of the blue. But, we are hanging on, just barely.
It requires a lot of passion and a lot of activism to say the least. You have to remember, too, life happens when you are running a business, so you have to take that stuff in to account. (Like I got sick last Fall – pinched nerve in my brain.)
Since getting sick last fall how are you doing?
I am getting better. I have Trigeminal Neuralgia. T.N. for brevity.
On behalf of all of your allies, supporters, friends and fans, we appreciate you and your hard work does not go unnoticed. What is your personal mantra or quote that you live by?
“Sexy is for Every Body. Sexy is for every body and everybody.” And, I often say “we are all in this together.”
I love both of those sayings. How can people reading this interview get in touch with you?
Calling our boutique during store hours is always an option. Emailing our Curvy Girl email but, my website is www.CurvyGirlInc.com and that links to my shopping site. www.Facebook.com/CurvyGirlInc is my public Facebook community with over 300K supporters http://Instagram.com/CurvyGirlLingerie on IG.