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Las Vegas clothing store founder 'smashed diet culture, addiction, patriarchy'

Kortney Olson
Kortney Olson/Facebook

As a woman, it’s common to go into one clothing store and fit one size and then go next door to another store and fit a different size.

It can be confusing and frustrating.

That’s one reason Las Vegas-based Grrrl Clothing rejects traditional sizing in favor of using body measurements.

The global brand also refuses to use Photoshop or airbrush its models.

Kortney Olson is the founder and owner. She’s also the author of "Crushing It: How I Smashed Diet Culture, Addiction and the Patriarchy."

“I solemnly swear to the best of my ability to refrain from talking negatively about myself, as well as other girls,” is a pledge attached to all her athletic wear.

She wrote that before she launched the brand, when she ran a wellness retreat for teenage girls. When she was a senior in high school, she was the student body president, in a Christian rock band, captain of cheerleading and had a 4.0 GPA with Stanford on the horizon.

“I ended up becoming addicted to methamphetamines, because I was so desperate to look like Kate Moss,” she said. “That decision ruined my life for nine years … but I’m grateful for all my experiences today.”

The message in her clothing was meant to teach girls that they’re not each other’s competition. With Grrrl Clothing, she said anyone wearing it can know “that you come from the same fabric.”

From her recovery, she took away the human desire for belonging.

In a 12-step program, she said she “was having that feeling of being amongst people who completely identify with what you're going through, you know, so as one alcoholic to another alcoholic to say, ‘Hey, I can't drink,’ you don't have to explain to your Uncle Tom, like, ‘No, I can't just have one after 10 years because I get naked and punch people.’”

Olsen just released a book on her experiences, and she mentions she was also known as the “Woman with the World’s Deadliest Thighs,” a moniker given to her by the late Stan Lee.

Videos of her crushing watermelons between her thighs went viral, and she appeared on multiple TV shows to show off the talent.

“Women, we are so much stronger than we think,” she said.

Kortney Olson, founder and owner, Grrrl Clothing

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Lorraine Blanco Moss is the host of KNPR's award-winning Asian American Pacific Islander podcast, Exit Spring Mountain. She's also a producer for State of Nevada, specializing in food and hospitality, women's issues, and sports. She started at Nevada Public Radio in October 2021.