Wednesday, 13 July 2016

A Word On #thenewsexy

As most of you probably know by now, I've done a little bit of lingerie modelling lately for the brand Curvy Kate, and their latest line Scantilly. I felt fierce as hell in those polka dot undercrackers. Of course, I'm not a model, and I wouldn't go strutting my stuff for any brand that doesn't have a body positive ethos. So when I was contacted about being part of a diversity photoshoot by a company that truly believes in self love (beyond it being a half-hearted marketing gimmick like so many other companies), I was in.

The point of any diversity shoot is to add some much needed variety to the range of body types we see everyday in the media. What we see has a huge effect on how we see ourselves, and when it comes to female bodies, we've all internalised the 'ideal' that the mainstream media portrays 24/7. When we're constantly bombarded with that single body type, one that 95% of us can never achieve, we quickly learn that our own bodies aren't good enough, and aren't worthy of representation. Combine with a diet culture so pervasive that we can barely open our eyes without being sold the latest magical potion for weight loss (spoiler alert, it won't work), and you've got a recipe for self hatred. A few brands have caught onto the idea that actually we might buy more of their products if they don't make us feel like shit about ourselves, for example Dove's Real Beauty campaign, or Lane Bryant's I'm No Angel campaign. #thenewsexy is Curvy Kate's tribute to the diversity of its customers.

I talk about the need for representation a lot, and I'm always clear that my body positivity has no weight limits, no fitness requirements, no skin colour barriers, all ages, all abilities, all genders are included. And I like to think that my commitment to that is a big reason why Curvy Kate asked me to be part of the shoot, not just because my purple hair looked pretty killer with those polka dots. I also think that it's important to always stand by your beliefs, even if at certain points, you have a vested interest in letting them go unchecked. So with that in mind, let's talk about #thenewsexy, let's talk inclusivity, let's talk representation.

These are the megababes who took part in the shoot, and what they brought to the diversity table:

Gracie Francesca (Grace F Victory) - plus size blogger, vlogger, body positive advocate, and all round superstar. Standing back left.

Georgina Horne (Fuller Figure Fuller Bust) - plus size fashion and lingerie blogger, model, saucy minx. Standing back right.

Taylor Crisp (Real Life Pirate) - singer, artist, disabled model with kickass prosthetic leg. Middle far left.

Me (Bodyposipanda) - body positive activist, anorexia conqueror, lover of pastels and dogs (not relevant to this shoot). Middle left.

Stephania Van Cluysen (Stephaniaeffie) - I'm not sure what Effie does for a living, but I do know she can drink damn strong cocktails, she has the sweetest mother ever, and she's the first transgender woman I've ever seen in a mainstream lingerie campaign. Middle centre.

Therese Hansson (Instabytess) - model, alopecia awareness advocate, luminous beauty who can rock lime green like no other. Middle right.

Lotte Williams (Lottelouisewilliams) - Curvy Kate's resident model, style blogger, almost intimidatingly cool but also really lovely human. Middle far right.

Joanne Larby (The Makeup Fairy) - Author, lifestyle blogger, vlogger, MUA. Bottom centre.

You know what the brilliantly diverse part about us is? The diversity of our backgrounds. The diversity of our body image battles. The diversity of our journeys to self love. Each one of us have overcome something different, and learned to accept different parts of ourselves on our way to body positivity. And that's something that looking at the image alone doesn't necessarily show, but that deserves to be represented. I'm yet to see another campaign featuring a recovered anorexic, a transgender woman, a woman with alopecia, an amputee, and 2 plus size beauties together. Curvy Kate has created something wonderful. That being said, it's important to talk about how the campaign could have been more inclusive, and think of the women who don't see themselves represented.

For all of the dark skinned women who don't see themselves represented here, I see you, I hear you, you deserve to be included.

For all of the fat women who don't see themselves represented here, and only see the slighty larger bodies placed at the back, I see you, I hear you, you deserve to be included and you deserve to be visible.

For all of the women aged 30 and above who don't see themselves represented here, I see you, I hear you, you deserve to be included.

When I saw the pictures looking through Megan's eyes I was blown away with how fabulous we all look. When I started looking through bodyposipanda eyes I saw (other than Gracie) how whitewashed the image is, how youthful we all look, how in terms of size diversity, we no where near represent the entire spectrum of beauty that the world needs to see. Within the constraints of the the campaign (lingerie size, social media presence, availability etc), I think Curvy Kate have done a damn good job. Better than that, they've given representation to so many women who never get to see themselves as beautiful, sexy, or valuable in the media. Thank you, Curvy Kate, for doing that.

We can appreciate and admire what a campaign has done, while still reinforcing the need for more. Actually we have to do that, because that's how changes are made, and that's what makes companies listen. I truly believe that Curvy Kate is a company who are dedicated to listening, to growing, to making us all feel less shit about ourselves. I'm incredibly thankful that they allowed to me to take part, and I'm excited to see even more diversity from them in the future.

P.s. any lingerie photoshoot that encourages its models to scoff their faces with chocolate brownies and peanut butter balls before they go on set, is one that I'm proud to be a part of. Seriously delicious.