by Andrea Williams
By numerous reported accounts, the average dress size of American women is a size 14 and, according to a 2011 Gallup Poll, the self-reported weight of women is up 20 pounds from 1990. But despite greater numbers of larger waistlines, there are still segments of American business and society that seemingly turn a blind eye to the unique needs of full-figured women – including the bridal industry.
Enter Shafonne Myers, founder and owner of Pretty Pear Brides Magazine, the online and print source of “bridal inspiration for plus-sized brides.”
Myers fell in love with all things matrimony as a wedding and event planner when she began coordinating events while studying biology at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. Though a full-time career in event planning beckoned after her 2001 graduation, she took the “safe” route and went to work in medicine.
It was until Myers planned her own 2004 wedding to her high school sweetheart that she decided to start her own business, with a blog thrown in for good measure. But despite the success of her site, the wedding blog market was becoming more and more saturated, leaving Myers in search of a niche.
“I was a plus-sized bride, so I knew the trials and tribulations that a plus-sized bridge goes through from personal experience,” Myers says. She soon discovered that many of her clients were sharing the same struggles and, in February 2011, the Pretty Pear Brides website was born.
So how did Myers transition from blog to full-blown magazine? She credits a close-knit group of friends that encouraged her to push well beyond her comfort zone. “I have four or five girlfriends that I talk to at least three times a week,” she says. “I didn’t have any publishing experience, but they kept telling me that I could do it.”
What Myers lacks in experience, she makes up for with first-hand knowledge of the subject area and a true commitment to bringing awareness to the plus-sized bridal market. Pretty Pear Brides is full of candid talk about body image and the full-figured experience – a welcome sight for other women who can relate to Myers’ similar story.