Jul 20, 2017 | By Samuel Trotman
These are testing times around the globe and activism is front of mind for a broader range of people, particularly younger generations (who are tired of fake news and political upheaval). As a result, we expect a social conscience to be voiced in areas where we may not have looked for it so keenly previously; from the catwalks to beauty, as well as corporate brands and social influencers.
The influencers we look to for fashion and lifestyle inspiration are now exploring how to balance sharing their personal views while tapping into the wider consciousness in a genuine way, and be part of the conversations dominating our social feeds. In an era when digital manipulation enables you to represent whatever version of yourself will attract the most likes, ‘realness’ is prized and respected. The cause you adopt has to go beyond cool merch, it needs to be authentic.
Social media stars including bloggers and, in particular, models who fall into the plus size category of fashion have been challenging traditional ideals and encouraging body positivity over the past few years, preaching tolerance, love and confidence. As their message gathers pace in the commercial retail market and with green shots in the media, reaching consumers beyond the community through leaders such as Ashley Graham, Gabi Greg and Callie Thorpe, what’s the next step?
In an age when we are more comfortable questioning the meaning of conventional values, a new generation of influencers is disrupting the market by using their platform as call to action, with self-love as an expression of activism. Already a part of the fashion industry, the business nous that these influencers have acquired through promoting themselves is harnessed to create movements (that celebrate self-love), rather than simply being the face of campaigns.
Denise Bidot (@denisebidot) – No Wrong Way Movement (@nowrongwaymovement)
American model Denise Bidot has worked for both straight and plus-size brands, walking for Chromat at NYFW and appearing in ads for Levi’s and Target as well as starring in Lane Bryant’s This Body campaign. Denise is of Puerto Rican and Kuwaiti descent and is also mother to an 8-year-old girl, a relationship that inspired her to launch the No Wrong Way Movement in order to highlight the importance of self love and an appreciation of individual beauty. The initiative welcomes women, men, teens and members of the LGBTQ community, and has a strong, nurturing presence on social media thanks to branded apparel and ambassadors such as influencers Troy Solomon (@abearnamedtroy) and Amina Mucciolo (@studiomucci).
Denise says on the site: “I hope this movement inspires you regardless of age, sexual orientation or gender, to love, embrace, and support yourself and others and understand that there truly is ‘No Wrong Way’ to be you.”
Felicity Hayward (@felicityhaywardcurvemodel) – Self Love Brings Beauty (self.love.brings.beauty)
Having carved out a successful career as a model after being cast in an editorial for Ponystep magazine by Miles Aldridge, Felicity Hayward has been shot for Glamour and Numero as well as appearing in campaigns for Boohoo and Illamasqua. The first Curve ambassador for ASOS, she decided to promote her view that self acceptance is key in dispelling the myth that the conventional ‘perfect body’ is the route to happiness. Hailing from the UK but recently living and working in LA and NYC, Felicity set up the #selflovebringsbeauty tag to encourage others to desire to be the best version of themselves, not someone else. The colourful Insta account for Self Love Brings Beauty is well curated, hinting at its founder’s background in photography, and features multiple images of the confident, inclusive and cool crowd repping the message, often wearing tees and pins that feature artwork by illustrator Lois Orchard (@loisorchard). Felicity also uses the account to shout out the people who inspire her, from fellow model Lulu Bonfils (@louisvuittoncrocs)
A quote from Felicity on the Insta reads: “I started this movement as I believed that finding self-love and inner peace will exhale badass confidence. I wanted to create something that was for everyone. No matter what size, shape, age, sexual preference or gender, I want you to value beauty from your perspective, not the media’s views on body image and worth. You matter.”
Candice Huffine (@candicehuffine) – Project Start (@psyougotthis)
US model Candice Huffine is proving herself as a versatile force in fashion. She’s been shot by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia and the Pirelli calendar, walked the runway for designers Prabal Gurung and Sophie Theallet, and starred in ads from River Island through to Lane Bryant’s headline-grabbing #ImNoAngel and #PlusIsEqual campaigns. Finding her body used as an example in the debate regarding what constitutes ‘plus size’ both in and beyond the fashion world has perhaps led Candice to take control of a new conversation that emphasizes a positive approach to body image.
Putting the focus on the strength developed through exercise as a part of self care, Candice is one of the founders of Project Start, “an initiative to inspire all women to begin their running journey”. It has the supportive, friendly message: “PS: You got this, girl!”, centred on those developing the courage to lace up their sneakers for the first time in years (or ever), and cementing the idea you don’t need to be a typical athlete if you want to take on a new challenge. Candice preaches fitness as a form of activism, aiming to create a community that sees running as the first step in a more diverse, inclusive representation of health.
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