Maui Bigelow has done it again.
Last week, the social media influencer celebrated the tenth year of LifeStyled Honors, highlighting curvaceous Black women in fashion, lifestyle, social justice, and entrepreneurship in Atlanta, Georgia.
“At the heart of this event, we are celebrating the beauty and greatness of the Black woman. Our initial foundation was to create a space for plus-size women. And over time because we have grown and understand that you can’t create one certain space for Black women. It just became a space to celebrate women doing amazing things and inspirational and aspirational things for Black women and girls,” Bigelow said.
The layered ambiance of dozens highlighting their own personal style with the backdrop of several full-on fashion experiences made the whole 5-day event a vibe to remember. Being present at Lifestyled Honors was witnessing an influx of gorgeous Black queens in real-time, expressing confidence, sex appeal, and collective joy.
Bigelow’s vision for the event has also evolved in real-time. It all started when the fashionable influencer created Phat Girl Fresh in 2008, a social media platform illustrating the fly lifestyle of Black women in plus-size fashion and beauty. In 2013, she took her passion for amping women up to the next level by turning the digital platform into a fully immersive in-person experience.
“I never imagined in 2013 when I started this that I would be here. It was a one-day event,” Bigelow said. “Now we’re at five days.”
“It’s just a great weekend of fellowship, community, and all the good things. And then comes the fashion, because the girls go to put the clothes on. You know the girls come with make-up done, hair done,” honoree and entrepreneur Jazmine Howell said while slaying in full glam from head to toe.
“Personal style can be whatever you want, but it is definitely a reflection of your personality. It’s important for your clothes and how you look to represent yourself. Without even talking, people can pick up your vibe and what you are about,” fashion designer and honoree Kenya Freeman said. “It’s a fun way of expressing yourself without saying a word.”
The fashion never ended with runway-style events curated by Bigelow shining a light on plus-size fashion designers.
“I just want to say. If you have something in your heart. Just go after it. Don’t worry about what the next person is doing. Do you and go get it,” one designer said before the entire audience erupted with celebratory cheers and claps. A synonymous feeling of harmony and encouragement set the event’s tone as a safe space for Black Girl Magic.
The event captivated tons of star power with appearances by Zatima actress Nzinga Imani, actress Raven Goodwin, Jessica Harris-Dupart, better known as Da Real BB Judy, and Love & Hip Hop star Tokyo Vanity.
“It’s funny because I look back just a few years ago just to see the fashions. To think that we have come such a long way. I’m so happy to be a part of that representation. To be a part of a community like this where I saw that representation day in and day out, seeing big Black beautiful women succeeding, it’s just a beautiful thing,” Imani said.
Bigelow’s inaugural night it featured a Men’s and Women SneakerBall event celebrating the Breonna Taylor Foundation and honoring Taylor’s sister Juniyah Palmer and social media influencer Supa Cent.
“If you want to do something. You have to believe in yourself. I know it sounds cliché. It’s really true. I believed in myself from day one. Honestly, when no one gave me an opportunity to showcase my talent in the art of dance. I said I’m going to create my own lane. As long you believe in what you want to do, it will happen,” honoree Akirah Armstrong, CEO of Pretty Big Movement, said.
Commemorating the tenth anniversary of Lifestyled Honors also meant looking back at how far Black plus-size fashion has evolved in mainstream spaces, the root of why Bigelow started the event.
“Growing up, all I saw were women like me in my family. But in the outside world, we didn’t see those types of women, so when I started it, I started it as a way to make us more visible. Over the past ten years, we have grown to the point where we don’t need these plus-specific places anymore,” the bossy-ass fashion maven added. “I tell people all the time, nobody styles and wow’s like Black women, and that’s not lost on fat Black women.”
The natural-haired beauty’s authenticity has kept entertainer and activist Sasha Renee attending throughout the years. In an interview, Renee reflected on Bigelow’s candid and inspirational platforms that have also cultivated a community of support.
“Tonight is all about celebration and giving her flowers, but in Maui fashion, she turns it around and wants to honor other people in the industry that have done great things,” Renee said.
During the Lifestyled Honors finale brunch, Bigelow revealed that Curves En Blanc, a signature All-white fashion affair, will take place in Miami in 2024.
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