GIRL POWER: Jarrett (left), with designer Donaldene Berwick, striking a pose at the recent launch.
“I’VE never allowed me weight to stop me. When I was Minister of Tourism, there wasn’t anything I did not try. I was fearless. It didn’t matter what size I was. I don’t see it,” declared COK’s full-figured queenpin Aloun Assamba, as she addressed the sizeable gathering at the recent launch party for the inaugural Curvy Caribbean Conference, the region’s first conference in celebration and empowerment of the big girls.
The launch took place on the grounds of the House of Neahlis on Ardenne Road in St. Andrew. “I can laugh at myself. [Teasing] doesn’t bother me; it runs off my back. So I’m very glad for this conference. I think it will really open up the eyes of Jamaicans. We’re here, we’re healthy and we’re not going anywhere.”
The conference, slated for April 8 and 9 at The Worthington, Spanish Court Hotel, is the brainchild of entrepreneur and plus-size fashion designer Alisia Jarrett, who is the first to admit that she and other women like her have had to endure prejudice and humiliation over the years. “From fatty to fluffy and mampie, women my size have been subject to ridicule. I’ve felt pressured to lose weighty, but I woke up,” she noted. “This is not just my story. It’s the story of countless women who’ve been told repeatedly that they need to lose some weight, leading to lo self-esteem.”
Jarrett also cited a study conducted by Dove, which found that six out of 10 girls opt out of physical activity because they are afraid of being judged for the way they look. For others, it’s their work and academic performance that suffers. It’s against this backdrop that the idea for the CCC was born. “We want full-figured women to value themselves and realize their true potential. Curvy women are fabulous and deserve to always look their best,” said Jarrett, who runs the wellness company LivingWell NaturalCare.
“We also want the conference to talk about the challenges and pressures of society and how we can confidently embrace who we are, where we are right here and now and also to boost our egos with gorgeous hairstyles and fabulous clothes.”
The two-day event will feature informative discussions and workshops addressing everything from body image, health and fitness to dating, fashion and business. Five gorgeous ambassadors have been named for the inaugural conference: international plus-size models Tessenie Mowatt and Tricia Campbell, Atlanta-based blogger Nikki Freestyle and businesswomen Gianna Fakhourie, who will co-host the proceedings with TV and stage star Dahlia Harris.
Predictably, attendees are in for a run time, attending sessions led by the likes of Yendi Phillipps (reggae dance class), Neahlis (hair and makeup), Courtney Washington (The Curvy Designers Open Challenge) and Rodney Campbell (Curvy Life Challenges), among others.
Professor Carolyn Cooper had nothing but high praises for the organizing committee and a firm message for the ladies who will be flocking to the conference next month. “This conference is about celebrating our diversity as women. Ladies, accept yourselves for who you are. Some men have unrealistic expectations. Don’t many any men make you feel insecure about how you look,” Cooper advised. “As Caribbean people we have different standards of beauty. In our culture, a lot of men love their women with meat on their bones. So we need to look at the whole psychology of female beauty and how the beauty industry conspires to make women feel small.”
Sponsors for the inaugural Curvy Caribbean Conference are Kerry-Kay, Lifespan, On Point Makeup & Beauty, COK, and Stayfree.