Houston’s first daughter, Ashley Turner, is engaged! In this exclusive interview, she shares her views on life, love, and creating the Curvy Paige.
If you’re a Texan native, you may know Ashely as the city of Houston’s first daughter. In this role, she is passionate about improving public services and literacy programs for children. She’s also a frequent participant in community service projects and is the executive director of community affairs for Lone Star Community College North.
For folks living beyond the Lone Star State, you may have seen her striking a pose on Instagram for one of her #fashionfriday posts. Or maybe you’ve even read her inspiring body-positive blog, The Curvy Paige.
In short, Ashley Turner has A LOT going for her – and now she’s engaged!
In this exclusive interview, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ashely for a virtual chat about everything from her exciting engagement news, to her experience navigating the plus-size bridal space and how she advocates for body positivity, self-love, and inclusivity; she is truly inspiring!
For more details on her love story and how she hopes to inspire women (and who inspires her!), keep reading below.
- Couple: Ashley P Turner & Jimmie Captain
- Occupations: Higher Education and Automation Logistics
- Engagement session location: Neon Noir Studio
- E-session Photographer: Aisha Khan
- Wedding date: March 12, 2022
- Wedding location: The Citadel
How they met…
Ashley first met Jimmie at his mother’s retirement party from the Houston Police Department. At the time, she “knew [Jimmie’s mom] had a daughter, but didn’t know she had a son.” And while this is where their story begins, it wasn’t love at first “hello.”
She recalls, laughing, “I feel like he was probably looking at me, [but] I was not looking at him.”
“…I remember he had this really big smile, very nice guy, still didn’t think anything else; [I] left the party… [and] a few months later, he literally slid into my DM’s and was like, “Thank you for coming to my mom’s party.” I’m like, “Okay.” Months later like, “You’re welcome.”
“Then, he said something else which made me think “he’s flirting with me.” So I said, “Okay. Well, if you want my number,” because I don’t check my DMS a lot.”
So, they exchanged numbers and began building a friendship. Slowly. And when they finally did enter a relationship, things felt natural.
“I was entering a relationship with my friend,” she says, “and that’s one of the best things that could ever have happened. And it wasn’t all automatically about something romantic. It was focused on, “How can I support this person? How can I get to know this person? Do I even like this person?””
And luckily for Jimmie, Ashley doesn’t just like him; she’s head over heels in love!
Their first date…
Their first date was sweet and simple.
“We went to a drive-in movie theater,” Ashley recalls. “Jimmie was so cute. He brought a blanket and snacks for us to have during the movie.”
When they knew they found “the one”…
Ashley always knew there was something different about Jimmie.
She says, “It was confirmed when I saw his caring nature and how he would put my needs before his own. I always felt like he was willing to fight for us.”
Jimmie knew Ashley was the one a few months after they entered into a relationship.
“I loved that she genuinely cared about my overall being and that she always included me,” he says. “She ensured that everything she did wasn’t just about herself but about the two of us together.”
On finding love in her 30s…
“We put this timeline on ourselves and I feel like that’s so much unnecessary pressure. Looking back, I feel like I should have enjoyed the dating process a little bit more in my 20s. But in my 30s, I do feel like I was way more intentional with Jimmie [and] less superficial.”
From the start, she knew things with Jimmie felt different. “He was a little bit more transparent” and wasn’t afraid to fight for her. And looking back, “With guys [she] had dated in the past, if things didn’t work out, it was just like, “Well, I guess we just aren’t meant to be,” and that would be that.”
But with Jimmie, if she said “I don’t like this,” or, “This isn’t going to work for me,” he would take a step back, reflect, and work on things.
“It was always a “Let’s figure this thing out together” kind of attitude and you just can’t put a price on that.”
Ultimately, as she entered her 30s, the things she wanted in a partner changed.
“It was no longer like, “Oh, he needs to be 6’2″, green eyes and whatever…. It was more like, will he be intentional with my feelings? Will he be kind to my parents? Will he be respectful? Will he honor my love language? Things like that. And I feel like with Jimmie, that’s what he did, and that’s what he does, and he shows up every single time.”
Their proposal story…
On January 29, 2021, the day before Ashley’s birthday, she was surprised when Jimmie told her he had planned something special for her. Already, she was a bit suspicious.
“In our relationship, I’m the planner, Jimmie is not,” she says, “So when he said he planned something, I’m already like, you don’t plan anything?”
The “proposal vibes” only increased when Jimmie was an hour and a half late picking her up and then blindfolded her.
“Come to find out he planned a game night and my mom was there. His mom was there. His sister was there. It was a very intimate game night. He cooked all my favorite foods and we just had a good time.”
The next day…
Ashley woke up the morning of January 30, 2021 ready to celebrate her birthday by volunteering at Kid’s Meals, which is a non-profit organization in Houston, Texas that prepares and delivers lunches to preschool age children.
Because of COVID, she didn’t want a big party or anything fancy. “I’d rather just volunteer,” she says.
Nevertheless, the night before was still on her mind.
“That morning I said to Jimmie: “I really thought you were going to propose last night.” His response to me was, “It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen,” and that was it.”
Ashley figured he’d propose on Valentine’s day instead or even some time in the Spring. Mostly, she was simply happy he’d taken the time to plan something special for her.
So, they headed to Kid’s Meals and had a wonderful day of volunteering.
“All of my friends and some of my family came. My dad was there. My mom was there, and then my mom surprised me with a car parade! I see literally everyone that I had not seen in a year because of COVID. So I’m already emotional because I haven’t seen all of these people. My heart is already exploding because I just missed everybody so much.”
Finally, Jimmie’s mom’s car pulled through. She was the last car in line, which was a surprise in itself, because “she was supposed to [be] going out of town.” On top of that, she was playing Ashley’s favorite song, Can We Talk, by Tevin Campbell.
Processing all of this, “[Jimmie’s mom] then gets out the car and his daughter and his niece and his sister are in the car. So they get out and tell us to come to the back of the car and I’m not paying attention. I’m thinking that they want to take a family photo. So I’m literally getting myself in pose position… and [then] my dad says, “Ashley, look up.””
When she looked up, she realized the trunk of the car was open and inside was a banner saying “Marry me.” In each letter, photos of Ashley, Jimmie, and Jimmie’s daughter, Aniya, were displayed along with balloons.
“It took a few seconds to even process what was happening,” she says, “and I just started bawling crying! Then he gets down on one knee and said: “Baby I love you, I don’t want to be without you. I want to ask you, will you please be my wife?”
Of course, she said yes!
“No one knew it was going to happen, and it [was] a surprise to everyone. But he said when my mom told him that she was going to do the car parade, he figured it was the perfect moment because everyone I would want to be there would be there, which was true. It was a beautiful moment.”
Their engagement session & theme…
“Our engagement session was magical,” Ashley says. “We didn’t have a particular theme, but we knew we wanted it to capture the love that we have for one another.” And their photographer, Aisha Khan, did just that!
“After I saw the engagement photos and I saw that [Aisha] was able to capture the way that [Jimmie] looks at me, I’m like, “This is what I actually wanted… I want to be able to show our children and my bonus daughter, his daughter, this is how a relationship should look. This is what love is.”
In terms of their style, Ashely wanted elevated looks that showcased her love for fashion.
“There was the pink dress that had this glitter, shimmering embellishments kind of thing. That was the first dress that I had found. Then, there was the ruffle dress. I knew I wanted that one to almost be the more casual one, so to speak.”
Jimmie complimented Ashely’s pink outfits through details like an elegant striped pink tie, a handsome gray suite, and brown leather loafers.
For their venue, they were originally going to shoot at Rice University; however the “good old Houston weather” just wasn’t cooperating.
Luckily, Aisha found the newly opened Neon Noir Studio to shoot in. And after seeing pictures, Ashley and Jimmie jumped at the opportunity.
“It was amazing,” she says. “The studio was this Moroccan vibe, and I told Jimmie: “I have to find a tunic for you. I just feel like this would be the perfect vibe for this black dress that I have.”
With three distinct outfits and so much love captured between them, their shoot came together flawlessly; they couldn’t have asked for anything more!
Their favorite thing to do as a couple…
“We love to explore Houston’s food scene and try new restaurants.”
Wedding planning so far…
Both Jimmie and Ashley admit “time is flying by.” They frequently remind themselves to stay in the moment and take things one step at a time because wedding planning is truly a process. Also, like many engaged couples, the pandemic has played a big role in their wedding plans.
“Originally, we had always said when we thought about marriage, we wanted it to be in either October or March because in Houston those always seem to be the months with the best weather. So when he proposed in January, we were like, “Well, October seems close,” and then we wanted to get out of COVID. But now we have to postpone our engagement party because of the Delta variant and we just don’t want to put anybody at risk.”
In terms of their actual wedding date, they’re now thinking about March; but what that could look like is still up in the air.
“We’re hoping that things are getting better by March and we’re like, “Okay, that’s still a few months away, but will we be requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test?” I think our biggest thing is how can we have our loved ones come together to celebrate our love plus still have a safe environment? So those are things that we have to think about to be responsible, and it’s part of where we are as a society right now.”
Her dress shopping experience…
As a plus-size bride, Ashley notes: “the bridal industry has a lot of work to do.”
Major problems she repeatedly came across was a lack of plus-size friendly boutiques and sizing issues.
“So for me, I typically wear a size 16, and so in bridal, I’m a 20. I’m a 20, 20/22. In one store, I couldn’t try on most of their dresses. The only dresses that I could try on were ball gowns. So if I wanted to try on a mermaid or a trumpet or just another dress, I could not have that experience.”
Because of the quote-on-quote “standards” society has set in place for all women, and especially for plus-size women, Ashley knew going in to each session that she probably would not have that “say-yes-to-the-dress moment.”
“It so frustrating,” she says. “There was one store, I visited three, that only catered to plus-size women. They were amazing, I had a great experience, but they didn’t have all the bling and drama that I wanted. Then, I visited the one store that did, but they didn’t carry my sizes.”
This deflating cycle made her feel unaccepted, invisible, and humiliated. And no one should ever be made to feel that way. Unfortunately, Ashley isn’t alone in her experience.
Ashley recalls, “On Instagram, one bride DM-ed me. She was plus-size, and she said that part of the reason why she thinks she didn’t have a mermaid dress (which is what she really wanted)… was because she couldn’t try on any mermaid dresses. So she just went with a ball gown.”
Another bride she knows didn’t even try on dresses at all. “She just went with another dress and didn’t even go through the process.” And why would she want to?
Even Ashley’s bridesmaids (who span in sizes) are experiencing the same thing. “I feel horrible because my bridesmaids that are all under a size 10 can go in and try on dresses, and my bridesmaids that are all above a size 10 literally just say, “Oh, I look at a picture… and hope that I like it when I order it”.”
Unfortunately, all of these experiences prove “It’s not a curvy or plus-size friendly industry,” which, as Ashley says, “is just so ironic when the average size of an American woman is a 14.”
How the wedding industry can improve…
“It can start with the whole even try-on fitting experience. It can start with understanding women’s body types, and how we come in all different shapes, sizes and that they’re all beautiful and that we should be able to walk in and no matter what your size is, at least being able to try on, having the inventory there and accommodating. If someone is small, you can easily adjust the dress to make it fit them. But if someone is bigger, you cannot expand it, right? So doing things to accommodate and to make every woman feel comfortable, especially when that process is already, it’s anxiety, right. You’re already walking in nervous. There shouldn’t be any step of it that makes it worse.”
Designing the dress of her dreams…
After several disappointing shopping experiences and realizing her dress might not actually exist yet, she thought: why not create it?
Working with local Houston-based Nigerian designer, Julie of MMA Couture, Ashley is in the process of creating her dream wedding dress! While it’s still in the planning phase, Ashley knows a few things for sure. For one, “there will be drama!” It will also have embellishments and definitely be form-fitting.
“For me, it’s important – especially as a curvy plus-size woman – to showcase my curves and not try to hide my body. I think for the longest time people were like, “Oh, if you’re curvy, you should do a ball gown, or you should do something bigger. You need to make sure it’s flattering,” whatever that means. For me, it’s like, “No, I like my body. I like my curves and the way that I look. I’m marrying someone who requested that my wedding dress is form-fitting and curve-hugging.” So I know for sure it’ll definitely be form-fitting.”
The dress’s exact style is still to be determined as Ashley’s still contemplating between sleeves or no sleeves and if she’ll accessorize with a veil or a headpiece instead.
“It’s so funny because I think if you envision yourself in your typical style, once you become a bride, you never quite know [what you’ll like], because you haven’t done it yet. It’s such a different style and you think: “What kind of bride am I? Am I more traditional or classic? More modern or Contemporary?”
Regardless of what she chooses, we know she’ll look stunning! And we can’t wait to see the final look!
Her style in one word…
Sitting on the other end of my screen wearing a lovely long sleeved pink polka dot dress, Ashley describes her style as “Feminine.”
“I love to be girly and ladylike. I love dresses and all those things… but I also love to represent the strength that comes with femininity. So, especially when we get into the fall and winter seasons, I love blazers and Moto Jackets.”
She adds that “feminine doesn’t necessarily always mean soft or girly.” It’s truly “whatever you bring to that.” For her, “it’s more about being comfortable in who you are and who you represent.”
“I think being feminine is one of those things we get to define. For the longest time, we allowed other people, primarily masculine energy, to define what these things are and I feel like that’s not necessarily true. You can be in a suit and be feminine. I think being feminine is more of an energy and a vibe rather than a certain demeanor.”
“There’s strength in being feminine,” she concludes. “I love all that comes with the power of being a feminine person and a feminine woman. I love embracing that… [and] embracing the essence of who I am and showing that in my fashion. So that’s why I say feminine.”
Creating a community for curvy women…
Ashley didn’t intentionally set out to create a body-positive community.
“It’s so funny the way that it happened,” she explains. “It’s actually not something that I wanted to do.”
“When my dad took office, I’d go to a lot of events all the time, which means I’m always getting dressed up. I’m always going out, and a lot of curvy women would literally come up to me and say, “Hey, you always dress so cute. Where are you getting your clothes?” They were asking me questions, and I hate to say it, I got lazy and I got tired of always telling people. I was like, “You know what? I’m just going to put it up on my Instagram. I’m going to tell people where I got my stuff and that’ll be that.”
And so began her #fashionfriday posts. To her surprise, she started gaining quite a following and eventually after talking to a LOT of women, she began making some realizations of her own.
“I realized that there was a lot of shame that came with the fashion industry and shopping, and really it came down to self-worth and acceptance and inclusivity. I understood it because I’ve been there and it doesn’t feel good and no one ever wants to feel like they’re not worthy. No one ever wants to feel like they’re not good enough, or something’s not meant for them or something was not created for them. No one ever wants to feel like that, and so what I tried to do is use my platform of fashion to say: “I know you’re here to get a look. I know you’re here to see where I get my clothes from, but also use it as a place to say you’re not alone. I go through the same things that you go through.”
The Curvy Paige…
Ashley’s blog, The Curvy Paige, is a new development for her community. And as a natural writer, she enjoys expressing herself; however, adding another layer of vulnerability was daunting.
“It was scary for me,” she recalls. “I’m letting people into my world a little bit more. And it’s another level of commitment, again, but then I also felt like it’s what people are asking for, and it’s… another way that I’m able to support the curvy community and let people see another woman of color, another curvy woman of color, someone that looks like them…” because representation matters.
“Even if it’s not Black women, it’s just other curvy women in general, if I can just inspire a few and let them see me and let us build our communities together where we can go through our ups and downs and hopefully, build our self worth and just build more body positivity and self-acceptance, I think that’s the beauty of it.”
Dealing with the haters…
While Ashley’s community is thriving, she admits it hasn’t been easy.
“There’s been times where I wanted to stop,” she says. “I’ve been body shamed on social media. I’ve been ridiculed and I’ve been talked about. It’s happened before and I’ve texted my friends like: “I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I’m built for this.””
But in those moments she reminds herself to take a deep breath.
“I think about the women who’ve stopped me in the airport and are like, “Oh, my gosh! I follow you, thank you so much,” or whatever the case may be…” and realizing that we’re all going through the same thing.”
Who inspires her…
Beyond her parents who she loves so much and describes as “hands down, two of the hardest working people [she] knows,” Ashley finds a lot of inspiration simply from other women, their stories, and their vulnerability.
“[Women] inspire me I think more than they even realize,” she says. “I have my curvy community of bloggers and influencers I look at all the time that are always inspiring me, that I’m always looking at for inspo, whether it’s from fashion, to their life in general, and everything that they go through. Then, I have my volunteer community that I’m always looking at, to my professional community.”
“But a lot of times, it’s just women and their stories and how we’re able to balance being professionals and being strong and being compassionate and getting [things] done.”
One woman she did take the time to give a special shout out to is the beautiful and talented singer, Lizzo.
“Lizzo’s pretty cool,” Ashley says, smiling. “And I think it was in one of her Instagram Lives or something [that] she was crying and my employee was like, “Why is she crying? She should just ignore those people.””
But Ashley saw Lizzo’s tearful moment as a moment of strength, rather than weakness.
“At the end of the day, we’re all human. I feel like there’s this misconception that strength only has one face, when really, there’s multiple faces of strength. But one of the strongest things that anybody can do is to be vulnerable and to let people in and to let your guard down and to let people see your true and most authentic self, that is the most courageous [and inspiring] thing that anybody can ever do.”
Advice for other brides…
“I think my biggest piece of advice is just remember what it’s all about. It’s really about you and your partner. That’s it. Everything else will work itself out. Jimmie and I are having a large wedding. It is not small. That is stressful, in and of itself. Everybody’s going to have opinions and advice. Everybody’s going to have something to say, but at the end of the day, it’s really just about this union that you are forming. So for Jimmie and I, even when the days get tough, I constantly remember that we are only engaged for a short amount of time. We will be married the rest of our lives.”
What they’re looking forward to most on their wedding day…
Ashley is most looking forward to “walking down the aisle to [her] future husband and dancing all night long.”
Jimmie can’t wait to “seal [their] marriage under God with a kiss.”
Looking for more romantic engagement session inspiration?
- Photographer: Ama By Aisha @AmaByAisha
- Engagement shoot location: Neon Noir Studio
- Black and pink shimmer dresses: Hebeos @hebeos on Facebook and @hebeosofficial on Pinterest, YouTube, and Tik Tok.
- Pink ruffle dress: J. Bolin Style @shopj.bolin
- Accessories: Headband and Belt (Amazon), Jewelry (Kendra Scott)
- Wedding dress designer: Julie of MMA Couture
- PR & Digital Marketing Account Executive: Dorianne Kaboya ( Medley, Inc.)