As women, confidence is one of the most important tools we carry. It can make us feel beautiful, give us a greater sense of self-worth, and empower us and those around us. While building self-confidence can be challenging, having the support of a diverse, inclusive, and encouraging community of women can help us feel good inside and out. In its latest Freedom campaign, Canada’s leading plus-sized fashion retailer, Penningtons, celebrates and supports all women — exactly how they are. The company believes that women should feel free from worry, free from judgment, and completely and unapologetically themselves.

“In speaking directly to our customers, we recognized the opportunity to refresh and modernize our brand image,” says Kathy Tsolakos, Marketing Director at Penningtons. “Our customers wanted to see more diversity in our marketing, just like they see diversity in our clothing.” With this in mind, Penningtons has created a fierce community of loyal customers called #PennGals. “Our goal is to create a community that embodies inclusivity, authenticity, and freedom,” says Tsolakos. “It’s a space where every woman can be their true self and where every woman can feel free.”

To help spread its message, Penningtons is partnering with three influential Canadian #PennGals: body positivity activist and TikTok star Alicia McCarvell, musician and actress Mélissa Bédard, and beauty guru Stephanie Valentine (known as Glamzilla).

“We wanted to share stories of the women who embody our brand values,” says Tsolakos. “We’re so excited and proud to have Alicia, Mélissa, and Stephanie as ambassadors of our community. Each one has a unique story of empowerment and freedom to share.”

Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, McCarvell tackles important topics of body image, self-love, and self-worth with a sense of humour. From workout routines to updates on her relationship, she’s relatable and inspiring.

Haitian-born and Quebec-based Bédard is a singer who advocates for women’s empowerment, drawing her audience in with her infectious personality.

Valentine is a Filipino-Latina-Canadian beauty creator who showcases her passion with unedited and unfiltered content. She’s championing to making the beauty industry a positive and safe space for everyone.

In the coming year, Penningtons is looking to expand its #PennGals community to be more diverse and inclusive, with more collaborators sharing their stories, their inspirations, and what makes them feel free. The brand is also encouraging young women to connect with one another by posting their favourite outfits, sharing meaningful stories, and attempting the latest TikTok dances using the #PennGals hashtag.

“We’re creating a safe and positive space where you can seek inspiration, feel supported, and uplift others,” says Tsolakos. “It’s all about being free and being yourself.”


Mélissa Bédard

What does it mean to be a #PENNGal?
“To me these are women who embrace the principle of body positivity. They use their voices to express themselves and educate other women and share their true, authentic stories, free of hate and judgment.
They support, uplift and defend each other. They are strong and inspire each other. To me, that’s what being #PENNGal is all about.”

Photo: Penningtons

Stephanie Valentine aka Glamzilla

What advice would you give to other women to feel more confident and free in their skin?
“If you want to feel more confident and free in your own skin self-acceptance is the most important skill you will need to learn. It isn’t about being body-positive and thinking every inch of your body is beautiful. But instead, it’s about accepting that you aren’t perfect and that you are enough just the way you are.”

Photo: Penningtons

Alicia McCarvell

What excites you most about the ‘Freedom’ campaign?
“Honestly, the message. This idea that we are free as people to be ourselves, is so important. It took me 29 years to understand my worth, and I want others to watch this campaign and feel empowered to step into who they are wholeheartedly and confidently.”

Photo: Penningtons

To learn more about the Freedom campaign, visit