T.J. Maxx Launches "The Maxx You Project" in NYC T.J. Maxx Launches "The Maxx You Project" in NYC
Ilya Savenok/Getty Images for T.J.Maxx

Laila Ali And TJ Maxx Introduce 'The Maxx You Project' To Encourage Women To Overcome Stereotypes

The four-time undefested boxing world champion sat down with VIBE to discuss the upcoming workshop and her own expeience with "traditonal" gender roles

Laila Ali is the epitome of a bada** woman. She is not only a world-renowned, undefeated boxing champion, but also a mother, wellness expert, TV host, author and so much more. This wife and mother of two is no stranger to adversity, and the ever-changing landscape of her career is a testament to her perseverance. It is no wonder that TJ Maxx invited her to spearhead their latest endeavor: The Maxx You Project.

After surveying nearly 500 women in their stores across the country, TJ Maxx found that 80 percent of women feel held back by the stereotypes that society places on them. The Maxx You Project was created to provide a learning environment for women to shatter stereotypes and traditional gender molds so that they can achieve their unique aspirations.

The “main event” of The Maxx You Project will occur in the form of a workshop led by Laila Ali and Barbara Corcoran in Los Angeles this summer. The project launched Tuesday morning (April 25), and women are encouraged to share their life goals and answer the question “How will you Maxx you?” online or in select stores until May 21 at noon. Eighty women will be selected to join Ali and Corcoran for the workshop.

“We’re going to mentor these young women and share our stories with them and really connect with them,” Ali tells VIBE. The curriculum of the workshop won’t be developed until the women are selected to ensure that they receive a truly customized experience.

A majority of the women who participated in the department store’s survey -- 94 percent to be exact -- felt that the stories of everyday women deserve more spotlight, as opposed to the over-saturation of celebrities in the media. Ali agrees and admits that she has personally always been inspired by the strength of “regular, working moms.”

“Single moms who worked hard jobs, but they still picked their kids up from school, were there for them, put food on the table—those are the women that I really appreciate and look up to because I saw them as being so strong and that’s the kind of mother that I want to be,” Ali says. “I want to be able to work. I want to be able to go after my dreams and my goals, but still be hands on with my children.”

On the topic of her little ones Sydney and Curtis Jr., the daughter of global boxing icon Muhammad Ali shared with us how she confronts “traditional” gender roles in her home. Specifically, in reference to a photo she posted on Instagram of her young son and daughter getting pedicures, Ali expressed that exposing her children to things at a young age is key to making sure they don’t fall victim to gender-based stereotyping. She also notes that her son loves a good massage, so the pedicure was right up his ally.

Treating my kids to pedi's! Keeping our feet right and pampering ourselves! #FirstPedicure 👣 #healthylifestyle

A post shared by Laila Ali (@thereallailaali) on

“It’s really about self care, and not caring about what other people think,” she says. “If you don’t want to get a pedicure, fine. But, I don’t think you should not do it because you’re afraid or embarrassed about what people think. That’s what I don’t like. I want everyone to do what’s in their heart to do, and it may not be the same thing that’s in my heart to do, but don’t let other people’s opinions and their thoughts stop you. Otherwise you’re never going to get to where you wanna get in life.”

And this lifestyle brand CEO is no stranger to tuning out naysayers. Especially as an outspoken woman of color, Ali has been forced to break down barriers not only as an athlete, but also as a businesswoman.

“I’m always a black woman, no matter where I go,” she says. “I don’t have my ‘Corporate Laila’ and my ‘With My Friends Laila.’ I don’t. I’m just the same. So you’re gonna have to accept me as I am…I know what works for me, I know what doesn’t, and sometimes what happens is people will paint you as someone who’s hard to deal with because they can’t get you to do the things that they want you to do. A man can do it, and it’s not a problem. But I do it, and it turns into something else.”

Although the women who are selected to participate in The Maxx You Project will be strangers to each other, they will share a common plight. Each woman feels that she is not reaching her potential in life because of the box or label society has assigned her. Through the mentorship of Ali and Corcoran, this program aims to provide them with the support and guidance they’ve been seeking.

“Sometimes when you get the door slammed in your face, you feel down, there’s other women in my life that kind of given me strength to keep going and kept me positive, so I believe in the power of us [women] connecting and kind of being there for one another for the good and the bad times.”

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Dr. King's Childhood Home Sold For $1.9 Million To The National Park Service

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Will Shafroth, CEO of the National Park Foundation said it was hard to place a dollar amount on the location where a lot of Dr. King's character was molded.

"It is difficult to value something this significant in our nation’s history. It is a priceless asset. It is one of the most important places to tell the story of America,” Shafroth said.

Bernice King, daughter of late the civil rights leader, said the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change had been considering selling the home since the passing of their mother Coretta Scott, in 2006. King said the center will focus on nonviolent educational and training programs.

“We are working on creating more robust, nonviolence training,” King said. “Our society is desperately in need of Dr. King’s nonviolent teachings right now in order to create a just, humane and peaceful world. That is what we are trying to put our energy in.”

The home was reportedly built by a white firefighter in 1895 and then purchased by Dr. King's maternal grandfather, Rev. Adam Daniel Williams, who was pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church for $3,500. When King's mother and father wed in 1927, they moved. All of King's siblings including himself were born in the home.

Elizabeth Paradis Stern, spokeswoman for the National Park Service said the preservation of the home will not falter now that it's out of the family's possession.

“The most important thing about this is that this property will be protected and preserved permanently as one of our most important properties,” Stern said. “It is part of the American fabric.”

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Donnie McClurkin Sent To Hospital Following Car Accident

Gospel legend Donnie McClurkin couldn't be more grateful after surviving a car accident this past Wednesday (Dec. 12).

The "We Fall Down" singer was driving on the road in the earlier part of the day when he passed out and began weaving into traffic. He reportedly struck the middle concrete island.

Following the incident, he posted a selfie of him on the hospital bed in scrubs on Facebook. Along with the photo, he explained that he woke up from the accident with stitches on his left thumb, on top of having a sprained wrist, and hurt knee. His car was also completely totaled.

"I AM ALIVE!!!! Somewhat mangled, stitches on left thumb, sprained wrist, hurt knee, but I’m still here! God and two angels saved my life!," the Grammy-winning artist wrote.

He also mentioned that two "angels" pulled him out the car to safety and medical attention. "I owe them...I am still here by the grace of God! Thank you, Lord...thank you!" he added.

On Friday (Dec. 14), McClurkin posted to his Facebook page again, sharing several photos of his destroyed car. "This is the totaled car that two angels rescued me from ....after passing out while driving I don’t remember most of what happened a day and a half ago...but God," he wrote. "I overrode doctors and sisters advice and flew to KENYA today for ministry Saturday @ TWO RIVERS. and home on this Sunday to celebrate life."

In happier news, McClurkin also took time to plug in his new Christmas single titled "My Favorite Things." Check out McClurkin's posts on social media and stream his new song below.

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Nicki Minaj's Boyfriend Kenneth Petty Received 18 Violations During Prison Stint

Nicki Minaj's new boyfriend, Kenneth Petty has a very troubled past.

On Friday (Dec. 14), TMZ revealed court documents disclosing Petty's history of disciplinary actions while he was an inmate in New York for manslaughter from 2006 to 2013.

When he entered the correctional facility, he was reportedly written up for creating a disturbance. Later during his stint, he was hit with a slew of disciplinary actions following a series of violent actions that included fighting, making terroristic threats, and "disobeying a direct order."

In 2009, prison faculty placed him in solitary confinement for four months as part of being reprimanded for nine different violations. Petty lost privileges that included the usage of the inmate telephone service, recreational activity, and the prison canteen.

In addition to his prison violations, Petty is a convicted sex offender. At the age of 16, he was tried as an adult served a four-year sentence for attempted rape of a minor.

Petty, who hails from the same borough as Nicki, Queens, knew the platinum-selling rap star since she was a teenager. They dated for a short period years prior to reuniting.

Minaj posted various photos of her and Petty going on a vacation getaway earlier this month. Sources close to Minaj told the celebrity gossip website that the 36-year-old hip-hop artist is  "happier than she's been in years" with Petty.


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