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BPM Incubator: CeCe Olisa On Self-Love and Body Positivity

Let’s Talk About Self-Love with Cocoa by CeCe Founder, CeCe Olisa

According to a recent survey by YouGov, 95% of Americans believe everyone should have a positive body image, regardless of their shape or size. The same survey also found that 55% of women feel pressure to maintain an ideal body shape and size - an increase from 41% in 2018.

In the UK, a survey conducted by Ulster University found that more than two-thirds of adult women feel unhappy with their bodies and are unsatisfied with their appearance - this has increased significantly since 2013 (64% vs. 42%).

Research conducted by Dove Real Beauty revealed that only 4% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful, and 77% avoid describing themselves using the words “beautiful,” “pretty,” or “attractive.” Additionally, 59% of girls stated they opt out of activities because they don't feel good about their appearance in certain clothes.

These statistics highlight the importance of Body Positivity movements and initiatives. With powerful messages about Self-Love, people can learn to appreciate themselves for who they are on their journey toward true self-acceptance.

[Q] What inspired you to start your Body Positive movement?

Growing up, many of my insecurities came from being a plus-size girl. As a plus-size woman living in New York City, I quickly realized that if I wanted to reach my goals and create the life I wanted for myself, confidence and Self-Love would have to be a central part of my life. But creating a Self-Love practice and cultivating confidence isn’t easy for any of us, and it wasn’t easy for me. My Self-Love journey began with a simple mantra “don’t wait on your weight to live the life you want.” I’d wake up each morning and remind myself, “don’t wait on your weight.” I started to journal about my Self-Love journey and find confidence in my curves. Surprisingly, a community of women found inspiration in my message and journey. I feel that part of my purpose is to serve the 67% of American women who wear a size 14+, and I’m proud to do so.

[Q] What does Self-Love mean to you, and how do you practice it?

For a long time, I fought the idea of Self Love. I thought Self-Love was a consolation prize when people didn’t embrace you. Now, I see things completely differently. Self-Love is the most cherished thing a person can possess. Self-Love is a process, a journey, and most importantly, it is a verb, an action word; it’s something you do. Over the years, I’ve cultivated a Self-Love practice that includes fitness, skincare, and personal style. My morning routine is a central part of my Self-Love practice. I wake up at 5 am each day to ensure I have enough time for Self Love. It feels good to wake up and love myself through joyful movement in the gym, followed by my carefully curated body care routine and journaling. Doing this in the morning ensures that my Self Love rituals are a priority. I literally put myself first!

[Q] How do you think Cocoa by CeCe, your Body Positive Beauty Brand, can help shift the cultural narrative around bodies and beauty standards?

Thank you for asking—my mission to change the narrative around bodies and beauty standards comes from my experience growing up as a plus-size black girl. Fashion and Beauty are wonderful spaces to play in, but it’s challenging when you don’t see yourself represented. Beauty has no size, but for some reason, beauty brands aren’t very inclusive of plus-size bodies. I hope to take my passion for body care and body positivity and create a community of people who love their bodies and practice Self-Love through body care. I pray that as the Cocoa by CeCe brand grows, people who often feel invisible will start to feel seen.

Named one of the “Top 10 New York Fashion Bloggers” by WhoWhatWear and a “person who proves you can be fit at any size” by, CeCe Olisa is co-Founder of theCURVYcon, a convention celebrating body positivity and plus size fashion during New York Fashion Week. For her next chapter, CeCe switches lanes from fashion influencer to beauty entrepreneur, partnering with Black Progress Matters’ Black-Owned Business Incubator to launch her brand Cocoa By CeCe. CeCe’s mantra to build confidence and empower women to feel beautiful is instilled in the DNA of Cocoa By CeCe.


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