"Almost Famous: What's the BUZZ?"

This post was originally shared on June 30, 2015.

Well, this has been one wild week! My intention was for this post to go live last weekend immediately following my crazy adventure at The Curvy Con. With my vintage iBook refusing to connect to the internet and staying set on the date 12/31/1969, I'm guessing she had a wild New Year's Eve that year and didn't want to forget it, the Cosmic Writing Gods gave me an excuse to procrastinate finishing this essay. And if there's one thing those Cosmic Writing Gods know, it's when to infiltrate my life for the better of the full story, even when I can't see it. At this point, one full week later, the full story plus the adage of some other amazing events, can only make it an even better story to tell. Now, it's on me to share it....

Sure, some people call me ‘fat’. Others say ‘thick, curvy, plus’, whatever people call me is just an adjective, a word to describe who/what they think I am. I’m ‘Amber’, I’d love for you to call me that.
— Amber P Riley- keynote speaker June 20, The Curvy Con Manhattan

Through echoes of cheers, with goosebumps on my arms and a fierce fire in my soul to continue on with the charge to share my bits of wisdom, life stories, dark secrets and victory scars, even if it falls on deaf ears, to inspire me to keep moving forward into the unknown with my head high.

After six hours, completely exhausted from chatting with women with whom I've never met but instantly felt like I've known them my entire life, breathless from laughing and my cheeks pinched from smiling, I left the Inaugural Curvy Con in Manhattan with my heart and soul incredibly full. Full of love, inspiration, wisdom, encouragement, empowerment, fierce determination, and countless new friendships with women from across the country. 

The roster for the day included panel discussions with the industry's top models, bloggers, online influencers, fitness gurus and fashion leaders, topped off with a guest key-note speaker, Amber P Riley from Glee. Attendees traveled from our 5 boroughs to fashion lovers from Europe, Canada and Australia, just to take part in the day's events and shop through specialty collections provided by several designers. 

As a stylist in my "free time" for a new start-up online personal shopping service for women sizes 14 and up, Dia & Co, www.dia.co,  I was invited to attend The Curvy Con with our team. Dia & Co has been yet another little happy miracle. I'm constantly bewildered by a) how small NYC is, b) how important a first impression is and c) finally, being a chatty person will pay off! 

I met co-founder of Dia & Co, Nadia Boujarwah last fall at Lord & Taylor when we bonded over the potential of an outfit she had chosen for one of her clients. Working in the "American Woman", plus size floor, on most days, I was desperate for interactions with women under the age of 70, (see Mom, you're included!), and with someone who actually had an eye for turning something on a hanger into a fantastic fashionable look with the right pairings. Nadia was passionate about the pieces she picked and saw more than just patterns, cuts and fit, she saw the woman wearing it and loving it!

Fast-forward to this spring, when I received an email from Nadia asking if I would be interested in joining the team as a stylist for her rising company. With clients spanning the country, fashion vloggers sharing "unboxing" videos, the word of Dia & Co had spread and she wanted me! After the shock of her remembering me, (#reasonswhyfirstimpressionsmatter), and a week weighing the Pros & Cons of adding a second job to my already extremely fulfilling and time-consuming, I couldn't resist. Finally, the ability to combine what I loved about my old job, personal shopping, with the creativity and passion for writing and sharing inspiration with a network of women around the country. Dia & Co was calling my name. 

While I've only been with the team for a short time, I am constantly in awe of the community it has opened up for me. As a woman who, like most, constantly face the world of photoshop and wannabe perfections with a sense of confusion. We have created a culture in which we have excluded ourselves right out. No one is pretty enough. No one is thin enough. No one is smart enough. We are not enough. 

Yet, we live, survive and damnit, thrive. We have organs that pump breath, blood and life into our bodies, with the sole purpose to keep us living. That is literally, enough. So spending even a minute believing we aren't enough to be whoever we've chosen or want to be, is ridiculous. It's what we do with those organs, what we do with those minutes that count. 

I am honored to have role models of strong, independent, beautiful, courageous women of all ages and shapes to pave the way for me to choose this life. I didn't look to magazines or television to set the rules of who I wanted to become, but the women I surrounded myself with in my community. I found the same beauty people gawked over in photos in the eyes of close friends, but with real passion and need for life and excitement. 

Over the past few months, the women I get to know through working with Dia & Co, whether it be the amazing co-founders Lydia & Nadia who started this mission with a dream, the clients I write little notes to, or the women I met last weekend, I have been inspired. Whether a woman expresses her struggles with finding the perfect outfit she loves herself in, or a woman who wants to sleep in the outfit we sent her because she finally feels comfortable, I feel emotionally attached to complete strangers. I've felt the lows of not knowing who I was trapped in a body I hated and I've looked in the mirror and thought, "I finally feel beautiful!" 

There is finally a network out there for women who have spent years in clothes they hate, hiding bodies they hate, with "pretty faces", "great personalities" and "if only you lost a few pounds" can have fashion be FUN! With social media, videos, pictures, virtual closets, posts, and most importantly, inspiration, the tiny corner we used to hide in is now the place to party! And I'm honored to be one of the hosts!

I know I've said that past events "have been the most important day of my life so far", and I'm sure I'll have another day in the near future, but attending The Curvy Con was one of the biggest highlights in my life. Between chatting with several hundred women about their love/hate/need for fashion to be accessible, and amazing group panels about love, relationships, healthy living, and just loving life, I was overwhelmed with emotion. In a room full of strangers, I felt comfortable sharing exactly who I was afraid of sharing for so many years. I didn't have to hide in the back, I didn't need a friend or wing-man, I stood proud and was the person I always wanted to be...Margaret...and they liked me! (and guess who else did?)


Well, Nora Whelan of Buzzfeed, to be exact. She featured me in a post "20 Women On What They Want to Change About Fashion". 


There's yours truly, along with 19 other phenomenal ladies who are taking a stand to change the fashion world for the better. 

While I can't fully change the world alone, I am convinced that with the right friends in my corner, a community built on inspiration, hope, joy and laughter, together we can prove that people are more than a size number, more than a gender, more than an occupation, more than just an adjective.

Mic drop.