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Bead & Reel Women | On Body Image Part I

by Sica Schmitz | Posted on March 03 2017

I received an email this week from a woman who had recently discovered Bead & Reel, and she was impressed by our attention to a variety of ethics but was worried about our photos, explaining that the model seen throughout our website seems too thin and unhealthy, and that we are perpetuating the industry-wide problem of unrealistic expectations of women. She is the mother of a teenage daughter and wants to make sure she's supporting the right kinds of companies.

I truly appreciated her feedback and the opportunity to have a discussion about this very serious issue. I appreciated the opportunity to explain my failed attempts at bringing both size and color diversity to my website (unfortunately, despite my very best efforts and many attempts, styles worn on a tall, young, white, thin model would sell significantly better than anything else, though I would love for you as my customers to help disprove this). As a feminist, I would love to take a stand and insist on only using diverse women, but if this leads me to going out of business then not will I not be able to help bring more diversity to fashion, but I also won't be able to help bring fair trade, veganism, and sustainability to fashion either. 

I appreciated getting to explain that our main model - the lovely Rachel Ford -  is a dear friend of mine, and that she is extremely healthy. She eats an organic, plant based diet and is someone who is just naturally thin. She is passionate about veganism, sustainability, and human rights, and lives a lifestyle representative of all three. Since I don't want to ask you to vote with your dollars without doing it myself, it's very important for me to only hire people who fit the Bead & Reel values, and she embodies every single one of them (not to mention that she is just a joy to work with). 

And lastly, I appreciated getting to share how important it is to not body shaming or judge any woman's appearance. It is no more acceptable to do this to a size 0 woman than it is to do it to women of any other size, shape, or look. 

Since last week I published an exciting new feature in Vilda Magazine called Style For All: Vegan Voices on Vegan Fashion (Part I of a two part series aimed at telling new stories about ethical fashion) I think this week is the perfect time to use the leftover photos and stories to start this sister series focused on women's voices on body image.

ON BODY IMAGE PART I

Bead & Reel Women On Body Image Laura Murphy

Laura Murphy | Barista/Personal Assistant
Jumpsuit / Shoes

WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

I grew up with a very high metabolism so it was difficult for me to gain any kind of weight. I didn't break 100 lbs until my 20s! Because of this, I was always made to feel abnormal or like I had some kind of problem. For some reason, people were not shy about speaking their opinion on MY body. I guess there's just no social stigma to comment on someone's body if he or she is thin but I definitely developed very low self esteem because of this. I started to accept myself only recently with the rise of social media. Seeing how other women love and appreciate their bodies, no matter their size, encouraged me to do the same and I felt less alone. It's so important not to compare yourself with other women but to stand with each other and embrace the beauty and natural wonder that we all possess. 

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

Everyday I look in the mirror, I try not to get hung up on biological flaws. It's so easy to be insecure but I like a challenge. I cherish what makes me unique and remind myself that I am just a vessel that the universe has chosen to express itself through. It's quite comforting.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

I strongly advise against comparing yourself to others. No one is perfect or has it all figured out and I'm sure the woman you think you want to look or be like has countless insecurities of her own. We are all human beings experiencing the absurdity that is life together.

Bead & Reel Women on Body Image Agnes Muljadi

Agnes Muljadi | Social media influencer/ballerina
Top / Long Sleeve / Pants / Shoes / Necklace

WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

Growing up as a ballet dancer, it was essential for me to find my own definition of a healthy body very early on. As a teenager, I constantly had to be conscious of not letting other people like my ballet teacher define what’s an acceptable shape and form. After all, it’s my body not theirs.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

By continuing to push the boundaries of my own mental, spiritual, artistic and physical capacities. 

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

Your look doesn’t define you. It’s what’s on the inside that counts so nurture yourself from within and the rest will take care of itself.

Bead & Reel Women On Body Image Tia Howard

Tia Howard | Actress
Dress / Scarf (similar) /  Belt / Shoes 

WHEN DID YOU START TO LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR BODY?

I have struggled a lot with my body in the past. When I became vegan it eliminated every single piece of that. It gave me strength without guilt and I am constantly eating a healthy diet without depriving myself.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM?

I maintain my self esteem by not trying to get caught up in the media and not comparing myself to others. Everyone should be different, it's what makes us special.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STRUGGLING WITH HOW THEY LOOK?

For women that are struggling with how they look, I completely understand. I think not feeling totally confident is unfortunately just the way being a woman works. We're constantly pressure to be a certain way and think a certain way. I would tell these beautiful women to be strong. We're amazing creatures, and we need to know that we are beautiful in and out.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, please visit Rock Recovery

All clothing from Bead & Reel
Shoot location – Pollution Studios
Photographer – Felicia Lasala
Hair/Make-Up – Genevieve Garner
Creative Director – Sica Schmitz
Interns: Ruby Leon, Adam Montelongo

Special Thanks to Asher Brown and all these beautiful women for helping bring this to life

Sica Schmitz

2 comments

  • Natalie: March 05, 2017

    Good read. I blog about topics related to the challenges women face when it comes to being defined as beautiful. Good point on not comparing ourselves to others.

  • Debra: March 03, 2017

    Love this article so much. Thank you. As the old saying goes “Choose your battles.” Although there are many, we only have the energy and resources for a few at a time. If we try to change everything, we will change nothing. You do an amazing job!

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