Although these days I focus primarily on entrepreneurial mental health, I began my counseling career immersed in the eating disorder recovery world. The prior decade of quietly trying to heal myself from bulimia and anorexia had instilled in me a fervent desire to support others – both directly as as clinician and indirectly as an advocate.
My recovery was painful and messy (recovery usually is), but I look back today with gratitude: those years of self-loathing and crying on the bathroom floor were what introduced me to self-compassion, spirituality, and feminism.
Even if a woman doesn’t fit the clinical criteria for an eating disorder, three out of four American women exhibit disordered eating behaviors and approximately ninety-five percent of women are unhappy with their body. Imagine a society in which we women didn’t attach any of our self-worth to our weight; in which we put less energy into shrinking physically and more energy into growing intellectually, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. How different our lives – and our world – could be.
As is the case with any mental health challenge, the root isn’t situated solely within the individual. Body dissatisfaction is a product of a pervasive thin ideal and systemic fat-phobia in our society, with countless studies supporting the correlation between exposure to media and body dissatisfaction. If we want to change women’s internalized unrealistic expectations about their bodies, we have to change media’s externalized unrealistic expectations about women’s bodies. And when it comes to media marketing consumer goods, this responsibility begins with creating a product designed with diversity in mind.
The aforementioned is why I’m excited to highlight four movements infiltrating the fashion industry – as brands that meet the needs of the marginalized consumer and use diverse representation to dismantle the dominant beauty ideal:
Summersalt is a swimwear and travelwear brand that’s quickly become known for its inclusivity and authenticity. Their suits, travelwear and cover-ups are available in sizes 2 to 22, and their brand imagery features women of all shapes, sizes, and abilities.
“From the day we launched, Summersalt has boldly rejected the over-sexualized narrative that has plagued the swimwear industry for far too long,” asserts cofounder and CEO Reshma Chamberlain. “The childlike joy of wearing a swimsuit and adventuring in the water is a feeling like no other — and we’re reclaiming it. Every body is a beach body. Period.”
ThirdLove is a lingerie brand with a mission is to design bras that fit real women — not mannequins. Using thousands of real women’s measurements to create products that fit all women better, they created a FitFinder that’s helped over 13 million women find their best bra size in under 60 seconds.
“I believe inclusivity is a movement, not a trend. We’re breaking free of outdated societal pressures, and that is a form of social and political resistance.” says founder cofounder and CEO Heidi Zak. “ThirdLove casts a broad mix of women, both models and non-models. We will not stop until we have created a bra for every body because that is core to who we are as a brand.”
IamMOI is a direct-to-consumer, made-in-Spain women’s footwear brand with a mission of helping women run for office. A portion of every shoe purchase provides tangible support to nominees by donating to SheShouldRun, which helps train and educate women running for political office. The shoes display language such as RESIST and WE RISE, founder and CEO Marina Levine’s bold response to the 2016 election.
“It’s our moral responsibility as feminist women to do everything we can to create communities and platforms for women – so they can speak out and teach their children to speak out,” she stresses.
Born in Russia, Levine escaped a “hostile, anti-semitic government and culture” – planting the seed of activism within her. “The democracy-endangering activities we are currently experiencing [in the States] can be attributed to our own historical lack of activism. I still see women who hold deep progressive beliefs yet are afraid to stand up for their beliefs.” she laments.
When asked why it’s so important brands by and for women incorporate activism, Levine responds ardently: “Recent anti-choice legislation reconfirm exactly why activism is a critical element of our business. Women simply do not have the luxury of apathy.”
All 67 makes affordable luxury leather jackets for women sizes 12-28+, creating the best-fitting and highest-quality pieces for a customer traditionally overlooked and marginalized by the fashion industry. What began as a hobby for founder and CEO Jeff Cafone – who taught himself how to sew and found a passion in working with leather – transformed into a leather jacket business.
Some of Cafone’s first customers were the cast or Orange is the New Black, which he describes as a “crash course in working with a super diverse group and taking a fit-first approach to design.” He quickly found that customers who wore larger sizes were overwhelmingly more appreciative, sharing they’d never had access to the fit, quality, and style. Cafone subsequently researched the state of extended-size fashion and was shocked by the lack of quality and representation.
“I cracked a major retailer recently by emailing the CEO directly,” Cafone reveals. “I pointed out that there were exactly 61 black leather moto jackets available on their website for straight-size women….and there was only one option for plus….and that option was only available in a single size 14! That’s not representative of the demand – nor is it moral. Everyone deserves access to quality options, regardless of size.”
Source >>> Originally published at here