By Alison Sullivan, Editor in Chief
Boylston resident Janet Conroy-Quirk and her business partner Nyemade Boiwu launched the National Plus Guide on May 16, a national database that allows people to find businesses that are friendly to customers who are plus-size. Conroy-Quirk, whose family lives in Sterling, hopes to hear from local businesses who would like to be included in the National Plus Guide, but also intends to reach out to some that stand out as plus-friendly to her.
“They’re businesses where I have always felt physically comfortable and accepted,” said Conroy-Quirk. “That’s what we want to hear about – spaces where a plus person can access eating, shopping, beauty services, entertainment or even medical care without feeling like they don’t “fit in”- I mean that literally and metaphorically.”
According to Conroy-Quirk, there has been a lot of interest and support since the launch two months ago, with new followers and subscribers to their business every day. With that, however, there has also been pushback and a lack of understanding from some people.
“That happens,” she said. “Size prejudice is very real, and it’s something that goes unchallenged in social situations, media depictions, and established systems.”
According to Boiwu, National Plus Guide was born to combat that discrimination, but it was originally going to be a medical directory of plus-friendly doctors.
“I originally started it because I moved to a new town and was dreading the process of finding a new doctor,” Boiwu said. “Fatphobia in the medical profession is a real thing and finding a doctor who can see you as a person (not just a number on a scale) can be difficult. I found myself wishing there was somewhere I could go to read recommendations from other plus-size individuals…Then I realized that, as people living in larger bodies, we run into these obstacles in various settings. So I decided not to limit the page and make it a one-stop area for people to go to find all things plus-positive.”
Conroy-Quirk was “thrilled to join Nyemade’s vision,” and said, “The idea spoke to me after too many bad experiences. Not just in clothes shopping, but I’ve even experienced rude treatment at restaurants or salons. People hold biased ideas about large individuals’ social skills, financial security, sophistication, and so much else.”
Boiwu and Conroy-Quirk hope to grow NPG into an inclusive online and real-life community, and to create an app down the line that will make the directory even easier to use.
“Ultimately, we’d love to see NPG grow to be a primary resource for those in or connected to the plus-size community,” Boiwu said.
“My hope is that it will be a site that serves everyone from a teenager seeking a plus prom outfit to a non-plus person who wants to find a comfortable spot for lunch with a plus-sized friend. And everything in between!” said Conroy-Quirk.
In addition to the NPG business directory, Conroy-Quirk and Boiwu have used social media to highlight plus-friendly businesses and promote acceptance.
“We feel it’s important to build up people of size,” said Conroy-Quirk. “We’ve connected with some great organizations like NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) and we’re featuring plus models on our site.”
To access the National Plus Guide database of plus-friendly and plus-owned businesses, or to submit the name of your business, visit
www.nationalplusguide.com

Janet Conroy-Quirk (left) and Nyemade Boiwu (right) launched National Plus Guide on May 16. They hope to grow NPG into a primary resource for those in or connected to the plus-size community.

COURTESY ALL: National Plus Guide

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