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.
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.
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.