Midtown: Community

Midtown Muse: Loving women’s curves

Purusha Jones is the director of the first Ms. Full-Figured North Carolina Pageant, planned for Aug. 9. Jones, a plus-size model and model coach, competed two years ago in the Ms. Full-Figured USA Pageant.
Purusha Jones is the director of the first Ms. Full-Figured North Carolina Pageant, planned for Aug. 9. Jones, a plus-size model and model coach, competed two years ago in the Ms. Full-Figured USA Pageant. COURTESY OF PURUSHA JONES

Stereotypes are dangerous miscommunication.

The one about fat girls is under attack – by a creative contingent of curvy, classy, confident women in Raleigh and beyond.

That’s why January ended with something new for Athena Ellis Chamblee, whose post-weight-loss surgery fitness journey that began years ago is a non-negotiable contract of self-love. It was also my own muse to just get moving, too.

Chamblee keeps finding ways to encourage herself and others to embrace our curves, and, yes, make boss moves toward our dreams despite societal standards and to debunk stereotypes that maim.

“There’s nothing wrong with being curvy,” said Chamblee, 39, cautioning for healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and such. “What’s wrong is stereotypes. People look at me and think I don’t work out. But I eat healthy, do boot camp three days a week, and I personal train with weights twice a week. My curves – that’s genetic.”

Chamblee hosted The Classy Curvy Confident Mixer on Jan. 31 at Smokin’ Grooves Bar & Grill on New Hope Road in Raleigh. The idea was to allow full-figured women in the Triangle to socialize and network, and to share entrepreneurial moves that cater to, encourage and inspire full-figured women.

About 15 women showed up – and out.

Chamblee, an aspiring plus-size model, found her first partnership with event coordinator Shay Williams of Rep the City, a modeling competition.

Open to women ages 18-45, North Carolina’s first Rep the City Showdown – Kurvaceously Curved Model Edition will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, at Smokin’ Grooves. Plus-size models – defined in the industry as sizes 10-12 and up – will walk the runway. The winner will earn an all-expenses-paid trip to Houston on Feb. 27 to meet modeling scouts there, where plus-size modeling is big business.

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She’s also in search of a “face” for the organization, which landed a recent cameo on TLC’s “My Fat Fabulous Life.”

“This is much more than just a modeling troupe,” said Blackmon, 31. “This movement is going to help women and girls gain more confidence and not care what people say – to walk out of their door every day with heads held high. They’ll know they deserve more, and they’ll go get it.”



Jones invites interested women 18 and over who wear sizes 12-32 to get more information from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, at Rick Crank Studios at Triangle Towne Center. An audition will follow March 15. The pageant is Aug. 9.

“We’re going to be looking for the best of the best,” said Jones, a former contestant in the USA pageant. “This is serious to me, a big to-do. The plus-size community wants to know they can be involved in beauty pageants, that they aren’t excluded, because beauty and size has no barrier.”



Like swishing parties in the United Kingdom, the duo created The Curvy Exchange, a free clothing swap. About 40 women shopped and swapped By KiKiSol’s first exchange last month. The next is set for August.

In March, By KiKiSol plans a style symposium at the Hilton Inn in Cary.

“The movement is very important for women in North Carolina, where there are more curvy women than not,” said Griffin-Purdie, who blogs at thebeauteefullway.com. “It’s definitely going to grow.”

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