Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Tyler Small of Ovrdu.
Fluffy GRL Movement Amplifies Plus-Size Voices In The Midwest With GRL Weekend 2022
As a 5’11’’, plus-size woman, I know exactly what it feels like to be considered a big girl. I remember being called “Amazon” or “Lisa Leslie” by kids on the playground as a child. Most kids name called as a way to cruel to me. However, I grew up to be a tall, dark chocolate glass of milk who is very proud of her curves and bold height.
So it was a pleasure this weekend to attend the Fluffy GRL Movement presents GRL Weekend 2022 in St. Louis, MO. Fluffy GRL Movement challenges the status quo during a time when many women are pressured by the media to achieve a certain physical aesthetic.
Founded by Ebbi Nicole, the organization is a fat-positive community designed to empower plus-sized women. Its annual GRL Weekend celebrates plus-sized women in the Midwest and creates a top-tier destination experience to celebrate fluffy women.
A Candid Conversation
This weekend, guests gathered at the Aloft St. Louis Cortex for day one of the event to have an important dialogue discussing health versus weight. There were light hors d’oeuvres and a musical performance by pianist and singer Katarra Parson. The event stayed true to Fluffy GRL Movement’s roots by bringing in licensed counselor Erin Grumley and plus-size model and influencer Natural Curvy Terray to talk about how society views bigger women and the way it impacts mental health.
“We hosted the candid convo kick-off where we talked about the truth about health and weight because there’s so much miseducation around the ability or disability or worthiness of larger bodies,” Nicole said.
Women shared personal testimonies of things they’ve experienced because of their respective sizes. Guests took turns being vulnerable and encouraging one another as ladies shared their stories. Some were bullied by adults as children while others struggled with weight issues due to health issues like endometriosis. Each woman who shared had their own experience that somehow connected with every guest in the room.
Plus size model Danielle Sampson was in full effect at the event. Although this was her first year attending GRL Weekend, she was excited to learn about health in the plus-size community. In addition to the education component, Sampson also said the annual event is a confidence booster for fluffy women and encourages them to feel good about who they are mentally and physically.
“There are so many people dealing with mental health issues like depression and anxiety and this is just a way out for them,” Sampson said. “It helps them to be more positive, It helps them to have a better outlook on things and have an elevated mindset as well.”
Women Celebrating Women
Tomorrow Mundy had no idea what to expect when she was invited to GRL Weekend 2022. But upon arrival, she was excited to see so many diverse women celebrating and positively affirming one another.
“I definitely enjoy seeing women of all colors embracing themselves, discovering who they are, and going with and excelling in,” Mundy said. “So it’s fun to see that and it makes me want to be a part of it.”
When it comes to celebrating women, Ebbi Nicole makes it a priority to honor one particular lady every year. Although the organization holds events year-round, Nicole intentionally reserves their largest event for the first week of August to celebrate her late mother’s birthday. The founder’s mother passed away when she was 15 and Nicole says she taps into her mom’s big, bold energy every August to pull off the signature event.
“I get to pull from her big Leo energy in August so yes to honor her this way, loud and unapologetic is definitely Sandy Patrice Young,” she said.
A Curvy N’ Wavy Experience
Day two of GRL Weekend kicked off Saturday evening at Collinsville Aqua Park. Ladies descended upon the waterpark for the Curves n’ Waves Pool Party dripping from head to toe in their favorite swimwear, shades, and beach hats. Guests arrived early for a special skate performance from Natural Curvy Terray before entering the waterpark.
Heather Rose found about GRL Weekend 2022 through the viral Facebook group Date Ideas & Things To Do. She said she rarely sees events celebrating plus-size women and knew she had to be there. For once, it was nice to be somewhere where she wasn’t the only big girl present.
“There’s not anywhere where for us larger women where we’re not the minority,” Rose said. “I don’t feel judged for my size here. It’s nice to have a no-judgment zone.”
Guests spent two hours flicking it up, sliding down water slides, and lounging poolside. Nicole planned the second day of festivities at the waterpark to create a space for guests to feel free. With so much information being shared on health and weight, she wanted to create a space for more dialogue.
“When we start having conversations about body politics, and activism and awareness, things can be heavy on those topics, and it’s a lot to digest sometimes,” Nicole said. “So sometimes we have to create experiences to meet people where they are.”
Empowered, Safe, Seen & Heard
GRL Weekend 2022 was a phenomenal experience. There was so much genuine love in every room from the hotel to the waterpark. To see so many women openly embracing, loving, and encouraging each other was a beautiful sight.
Ebbi Nicole hopes guests walked from the weekend feeling empowered, safe, seen, and heard. She’s received incredible reviews and many women expressed the impact the event had on their lives. Nicole also says she hopes guests understand that there is a community for them just the way they are.
“I truly believe that it’s going to take all of us to continuously re-educate the world but also take some time and understand we are equally as dope, no matter which category you fall into – Fluffs, Fluffettes, or Fluff supporters,” she said. “There’s a community called Fluffy GRL Movement that is here for you.”