When Summer Lucille was growing up in the ‘90s, she dreaded shopping for formal events.
“If you weren’t skinny, there weren’t many options, and it was devastating for me because I’ve always loved fashion,” Lucille tells TODAY.com. “I went to my prom looking like a church lady in a suit dress with a jacket because it was the only thing that fit.
“It was a very sad period in my life,” she continues. “But I’m thankful for those experiences now.”
Lucille says those painful memories are the reason she started carrying prom dresses at Juicy Body Goddess, a clothing boutique in Charlotte, North Carolina, that offers up to a size 6x.
"I know what it's like to be a fat girl in a fatphobic world," she says.
Though Lucille has been in business for more than a decade, she began gaining national attention in 2021, through the joyful videos she shares on TikTok.
TikTok is how Elyse Monroe, an 18-year-old high school senior, found Lucille's store. She drove nearly six hours for a prom consultation with Lucille at Juicy Body Goddess in the Northlake Mall.
It was the worth the gas money.
In a TikTok video that has been viewed more than 11.8 million times, Lucille is heard hyping up Monroe in a fitting room. It's what Lucille is known for: She's a ray of positivity for her customers and followers alike. Monroe likes the first dress she tries — but she comes alive in the second look, a purple evening gown in a shimmery fabric.
“I love that on you! It is so beautiful,” Lucille exclaims, as Monroe twirls and smiles at her reflection in the mirror.
“Shopping is usually pretty stressful for me, which is why I mostly shop online — but we were laughing the whole time. It was actually fun.”Elyse Monroe, 18-year-old customer
But it gets even better.
Moments later, Monroe and her family will be crying happy tears at the cash register.
“So this dress is $700 … but it’s free,” Lucille announces. "We’re giving to you.”
Now back home in Manteo, North Carolina, Monroe says she keeps opening her closet to look at the purple dress she'll wear to prom next month.
“Not only does it fit — but it makes me feel good about myself,” she tells TODAY.com. “Shopping is usually pretty stressful for me, which is why I mostly shop online — but we were laughing the whole time. It was actually fun.
“Prom is a night where you want to feel beautiful,” she adds. “And I feel beautiful in that dress.”
Lucille says there is no rhyme or reason to how she decides which customers to gift.
“It’s just a feeling,” she says. Perhaps Lucille saw a bit of her younger herself in Monroe. Though it’s been decades, she vividly recalls being limited to looking at accessories for prom while her girlfriends shimmied into beautiful ballgowns because the stores didn’t carry her size.
“These prom consultations heal me. I cry at almost every one,” she tells TODAY.com.