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The This Is Us star headlined the 3rd annual theCURVYcon convention, presented by Dia & Co, during New York Fashion Week. The conference focused on body positivity and plus size fashion, with two days of panels, a fashion show and tons of shopping.
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The first night kicked off with a Dia & Co fashion show, featuring over 40 different looks. TheCURVYcon's founders, CeCe Olisa and Chastity Garner, tell PEOPLE that they had been dreaming of putting on the fashion show for the last three years. "We knew the fashion show had to be on point," Garner says.
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Fashion Industry Panel
(L-R) Fern Mallis, Nadia Boujarwah, Stacy London, Emme Aronson and Marquita Pring talked about how the fashion industry has changed to work with plus size women in the last few years.
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TheCURVYcon started as a half-day event, and has since grown to cover two full days. Next year, Olisa and Garner tell PEOPLE, they plan to move venues and expand the conference from 500 women to about 1,000 to 1,500 attendees.
"We’ve sold out the event every year for the past three years. Our audience is very supportive and we don't take that for granted at all," says Olisa.
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Body Positive Panel
Day two began with the Do It with the Lights On panel on body positivity, inspired by Whitney Way Thore's (right) book. The panel and audience members talked about everything from the frustration of finding people on dating apps only for them to be disappointed with you in real life, to accepting and coming out to people as "fat."
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Creating a Haven
Olisa and Garner are extremely proud of the community that formed around theCURVYcon.
"The women are very open about how they feel. You come to theCURVYcon and you instantly feel positivity, you feel self-acceptance and acceptance from everyone around you," Garner says. "You feel good vibes."
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Girl Boss Panel
Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason, the co-founders of clothing brand Premme, talked about creating a start-up brand during the Girl Boss panel.
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Attendees browsed through the clothing from dozens of brands in between panels.
"A lot of the plus size experience happens online, so this give women the chance to shop their favorite brands in person and try on clothes," Garner says.
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Dear Retailer Session
Top executives at Target, Macy's, Lane Bryant and more talked about how they approach the plus size fashion industry, and took suggestions and questions on where to go from here.
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Chrissy Metz on Body Image
Chrissy Metz closed out the conference as the keynote speaker on behalf of ELOQUII, with questions from Olisa and Garner. The Emmy-nominated star spoke about dressing as a "plus size" celebrity.
"It was really challenging at first, and I didn't want to wear particular things because I was like, what if someone says that this was bad. And that's when I had that epiphany of 'who cares?' " Metz said. "But it was a challenge, and it's still sort of challenging to find things that I like. At a certain point it's not just about the clothes that you're wearing, it's about who's wearing the clothes."