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.”

From the Web

More on Vibe

Getty

‘Harriet’ Screenwriter Says Studio Head Wanted Julia Roberts To Play Harriet Tubman

More than two decades before Harriet made it to the big screen, a Hollywood studio executive suggested that Julia Roberts play the leading role of the black freedom fighter and slave abolitionist.

Harriet screenwriter, Gregory Allen Howard, shared the insane story in an interview detailing the 26-year journey to get the film made. “When I got in the business, I wanted to tell these historical stories by turning them into entertainment. I didn't want to give history lessons,” Howard explained.

“I wanted to turn Harriet Tubman's life, which I’d studied in college, into an action-adventure movie. The climate in Hollywood, however, was very different back then. I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let's get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman.’”

He added that when someone pointed out that Tubman was a black woman the executive replied, “It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.”

Howard credits the box office success of 12 Years A Slave and Black Panther with helping to get Harriet on the silver screen. “I told my agent, 'You can't say this kind of story won’t make money now.' Then Black Panther really blew the doors open.”

Harriet stars Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo as Tubman, a role that Howard says she unknowingly nabbed after seeing her in The Color Purple on Broadway. “As soon as she opened her mouth, I thought, 'Yes, that's Harriet.' Afterwards I emailed the other producers, 'That's Harriet. She's a little stick of dynamite.'”

The cast also includes, Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, Jennifer Nettles and Joe Alwyn. “Nearly all” of the characters in the film are based on real people, noted Howard, who has long been intrigued by Tubman's story.

“Even before I knew I was going to be a screenwriter, when I was a history major in college, I thought this was a corker of a story. Don't forget she was the only female conductor on the Underground Railroad. And she never lost a passenger. Other conductors took larger groups but would invariably lose people along the way. Her goal was never to lose anyone. But there was so much more—she was a spy; she was one of the first women to lead soldiers in battle.

“But more than anything, this small woman single-handedly threatened the billion-dollar industry of slavery,” Howard continued. “Harriet was bigger than life. Harriet freeing slaves had a multiplying effect. Plantation owners were scared that enslaved people would start getting ‘ideas.’ There were always more slaves [than] white people on the plantations, but those enslaved didn’t know their own power. Harriet showed them how powerful they could become.”

Continue Reading
Getty Images

T.I. To Address Controversial Comments About Daughter On ‘Red Table Talk’

T.I. will be joining Jada Pinkett Smith on Red Table Talk to address the controversial comments that he made about his daughter’s virginity nearly two weeks ago. Pinkett Smith revealed that the Atlanta rapper recently filmed an RTT episode with his wife, Tameka “Tiny”  Harris.

“T.I. coming to the table yes, indeed, the actress and producer told Entertainment Tonight at the AFI Film Fest screening of her new show, Hala. “Of course he’s going to address the controversy that’s been swirling, then he and Tiny sit down and talk about how they survived in regards to their marriage.”

The father of seven has been radio silent on social media in the days since his viral interview on the Ladies Like Us podcast. During the podcast, which is co-hosted by Miguel’s wife Nazanin Mandi, Tip casually explained how he takes his 18-year-old daughter, Deyjah Harris, to the gynecologist to check her hymen.

The aftermath of the graphic and disturbing admission led to Mani and her co-host, Nadia Moham, issuing an apology. “The comments that were made and the reaction that followed are not in any way a reflection of our personal views on the topic,” the duo stated. “We support and love women and feel that their bodies are theirs to do as they wish. There was absolutely no ill intent toward any party involved & feel deeply awful about the entire incident.”

Deyjah has since deactivated her Instagram and Twitter accounts.

T.I.’s Red Table Talk episode airs next Monday (Nov. 25).

Continue Reading
Ryan Theriot

Ari Lennox Voices Frustrations Over Soul Train Awards Snub

Ari Lennox might officially be quitting music after getting snubbed at this year’s Soul Train Awards.  The “BMO” singer, who earned three nominations and was a presenter during the award show held in Las Vegas last weekend, shared her disappointment in a series of tweets on Tuesday (Nov. 19).

“No one will have to worry about me complaining after this current complaint,” Lennox began before adding, “Lol what I will not do is ever be this depressed again.”

Lennox continued, “It’s not just an award. It wasn’t any award show. It was the soul train awards. As you can see I’m [a] big fan of soul music and a huge fan of soul train history.”

The Washington D.C. native was nominated in the Best R&B Soul Female Artist, Best Collaboration and Album/Mixtape of the Year categories. H.E.R took home the award for Best Female Artist, Chris Brown scooped up the Best Collaboration category and Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You grabbed Album/Mixtape of the Year.

“Being snubbed was something I always expected and was definitely prepared for just not by them,” Lennox wrote while making it clear that her frustrations weren't aimed at fellow nominees. “My intent was to never shade other nominees. I’m hurt and don’t expect soulless haters to understand that.”

“[Every time] I wrap my mind around it I just can’t accept it,” she continued. “It feels like a break up. I made a soulful album. I never ran from who I am. I just expected the one platform to understand that. It takes a lot of energy to do these things and ultimately this was a hard loss for me.”

Lennox also pointed out that she's been grinding in the music for a decade and hit back at those who misconstrued her candor for being ungrateful. “Me being honest doesn’t make me less gracious or less star worthy.”

In another series of tweet, Lennox pondered leaving music to join the army. “I’m not selling out. So I quit. It’s clear I’m not ‘cool’ enough. Not trendy enough and I don’t care to be. I don’t strive for that. I’m not going to chase this sh*t ever again. No more fake sh*t on my part.”

Despite the critical acclaim of Shea Butter Baby, Lennox has been open about the struggles of the music industry. “It’s not just the awards,” she tweeted. “[Shea Butter Baby] was slept on in so many ways. I’m too emotional to pretend like I can play this game.”

Read her tweets below.

You know what I realized? People who genuinely fuck with me understand my frustration. People who are self hating haters and clearly have never given my music a chance got the biggest problem with me always.

— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) November 19, 2019

No one will have to worry about me complaining after this current complaint. Lol what I will not do is ever be this depressed again

— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) November 19, 2019

It’s not just an award. It wasn’t any award show. It was the soul train awards. As you can see I’m big fan of soul music and huge fan of soul trains history.

— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) November 19, 2019

Being snubbed was something I always expected and was definitely prepared for just not by them.

— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) November 19, 2019

My intent was to never shade other nominees. I’m hurt and I don’t expect soulless haters to understand that

— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) November 19, 2019

Everytime I wrap my mind around it I just can’t accept it. It feels like a break up. I made a soulful album. I never ran from who I am. I just expected that one platform to understand that.

— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) November 19, 2019

Me being honest doesn’t make me less gracious or less star worthy.

— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) November 19, 2019

I’m not selling out. So I quit.

— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) November 19, 2019

It’s clear I’m not “cool” enough. Not trendy enough and I don’t care to be. I don’t strive for that. I’m not going to chase this shit ever again. No more fake shit on my part.

— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) November 19, 2019

It’s not just the awards. SBB was slept on in so many ways. Im too emotional to pretend like I can play this game.

— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) November 19, 2019

Continue Reading

Top Stories