My thoughts on Body Positivity (bositivity?)
By Alexandra Rabbitte
My thoughts on body positivity
Launching a product in 2020 that is founded by women and creating something for the most intimate part of a womens body raised more existential questions than I had initially thought of. For context, I consider myself to be incredibly aware of sensitive topics, social issues, and conversations that are shaping our society. I have a background in politics, journalism, and PR and I have a genuine interest in understanding the many sides of a story, or issue.
Something that has shifted significantly within my lifetime is the concept of body positivity-which by definition, is the movement that everyone deserves to have a positive body image of themselves. I mostly pushed it back at first, thinking that it was a wonderful movement- but that it didn’t involve me. That I had to be quiet, and be grateful for my genetics, my childhood of always being involved in sports and healthy eating that had somehow put me in a category of fit, healthy and fitting into societys definition of a healthy woman. I watched from a distance, the conversations about diversity in models and sizes and felt super proud of these women for changing the way fashion and beauty looks, but also felt removed from it. (my only comment has always been that I HATE when people say things like “real women have curves” or “eat a burger” when they see a skinny woman. Skinny shaming is just as gross as fat shaming)
While I don't understand the complexities of being a different size than what I am- I am trying to understand my place in the body positive movement.
When it came time to launch Prairie Swim- which was born out of a sheer selfish desire to have a go-to swim brand that I could rely on for being stylish, high quality, and affordable, many people asked me if I was going to have PS be “body positive”. The answer was that of course we want to be inclusive and representative of the women we are building this for- but I also felt that I didn’t have any right to be the authority on body issues. I felt that, not because I don’t have body issues, but because I felt like because I’m a size that has been deemed as "acceptable" by society, that no one would want to hear it from me, and I don’t blame them. I genuinely don’t understand what it is like to be a size other than what I am and the complex emotional process of finding clothes, and feeling confident and accepted by society in a bikini when you aren't the body type that we have been so accustomed to seeing on tv and in magazines. Though, I would like to understand it more (and we are actively working to understand it more), and trust me- being a size small does not equate to always feeling confident in a bikini.
I also don’t feel like I can be honestly representing a brand and saying that I *am* body positive, as I smooth out my own wrinkles, cellulite, and refuse to post any photos where I dislike anything on my body (which, is about 90% of all photos). I've struggled with my own relationship with food and obsessive working out so I don't really want to advertise that we're something that we're not practicing ourselves, though I promise that we are working on it.
Carling and I learned a lot from our first photoshoot where we, on a shoestring budget, were the models, and let me tell you…you have never heard so many verbal assaults two women can make on themselves during this shoot. Despite the photos being taken by a photographer who takes STUNNING photos of every other women we have seen, when we saw ourselves we were spewing hatred, “oh my god, my SKIN looks awful” “why do I look so large? What is with this angle? I look huge! Tell me I don’t look like that!?” “wow, my hair is disgusting, why do I look so sweaty?” LITERALLY every mean thing we could say about ourselves.
So, I know that I'm not the authority on body positivity- but I have taken this time to look into myself and try to be less critical, and honestly, that’s hard. I’ve always been an extremely tough critic on everything about myself and it is really hard to practice self love- and if that’s what the body positivity movement is really about, then I have every right to try to be the authority on it, as does anyone, as we’re all just figuring out what it means to us. I am going to make a serious effort to be less critical and more open about my own struggles, and be more honest about the stretch marks and imperfections that I have- in hopes that I can lead by example, gain more body positivity and to inspire others to do the same.
Alexandra is the co-founder of Prairie Swim. She's a true Leo, who loves country music, running and her dog Louise.
*edited to add- Although Carling and I hoped to not be our own models again, COVID 19 began to escalate as we received our inventory and we did a quick shoot of our products as we feared that everything was going to canceled (which it was) so as we moved toward flattening the curve, we were forced to embrace our own curves and use the photos we quickly snapped of each other for our website.