When you walk through the doors of Juicy Body Goddess, you know instantly you’ve ended up in an affirming place. “Welcome to Juicy, where you’ve got to be two something to do something,” store owner Summer Lucille and her staff call out as a greeting.
The plus size boutique is a hit on TikTok, where they share their body-positive affirmations and self-esteem-boosting videos with nearly a million followers. The store’s popularity on the app even helped JBG open a location at the Northlake Mall in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eager fans waited in a long line at the June 5 grand opening to experience the shop’s extensive collection of clothing, plus a bra fitting station, mini makeovers and full body measurements.
Lucille, a plus size woman herself, used to experience anxiety when shopping.
“I always felt like staff was judging me,” she said. “So, I wanted to create a space where plus size bodies know the second they walk in their bodies are right, and they are welcome.” Instead of anxiety, Lucille hopes customers can walk into a place without judgment and full of love. “Somewhere plus sized bodies can feel that their bodies are right with stunning fashion.”
While plus size cisgender women may be the primary demographic for JBG, their welcoming and affirming videos featuring trans women and gender-nonconforming people are landing JBG on many LGBTQ+ TikTok users For You page.
For Lucille, who was born and raised in an LGBTQ+-friendly section of Columbus, Ohio, welcoming trans and nonbinary customers was a no-brainer. However, moving to the South opened her eyes to the treatment the LGBTQ+ community faces outside of more queer and trans-friendly cities.
“When I first opened my store, I would get questions like ‘are you trans friendly?’ she said. “At the time, I’m like, why wouldn’t I be? Until I learned I was no longer in Columbus, Ohio, but the South where trans people still are discriminated against.”
One of the videos where JBG makes their support of all bodies clear has nearly 500,000 views and features TikTok user ItsNoelleNow. In the video, Noelle, who uses she/her pronouns, twirls around in a colorful dress while customers and Lucille cheer her on. For Noelle, who has been slowly coming out as trans over the last few years, the experience was exhilarating. “It was one of the scariest yet most validating experiences I’ve ever had,” Noelle shared. “Oh, and I left with two new dresses that day!”
Before JBG, Noelle hadn’t spent much time shopping for clothes as a trans woman. She’d received a few secondhand pieces from a friend and attended an event hosted by Transcend Charlotte, a support group helping Charlotte-area trans people with mental health, social support and social services. “Other than that, it’s window shopping on plus size clothing apps for the most part,” said Noelle.
With JBG, Noelle and trans women like her have a place to be lifted on their journey to feeling authentic and comfortable. There’s also been lots of love and support from people worldwide.
“Thousands of people have liked my comment,” Noelle said. “It’s been viewed nearly half a million times, and I gained about 150 new followers from it…I don’t even make TikTok videos!”
In a time when the trans and gender-nonconforming community is experiencing a deluge of discrimination and anti-trans legislature, places like JBG serve as beacons of hope.
“I’ve found unexpected allies in the ladies at Juicy Body,” Noelle said, “and it’s absolutely wonderful to have big lovable personalities like theirs looking out for, supporting, and empowering us.”
For Lucille and the team, their message to the LGBTQ+ community is clear. “You will always be loved and safe at JBG. Please don’t forget to love yourself and treat yourself good. And I love you.”