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March 18, 2019 | by  | in Fashion | [ssba]

Fashion and Haute Tea

Flaunting confidence in the form of a heavily self-curated swimwear pic is one thing. But as I recently discovered: doing so when you’re half-naked in front of a production team, is a whole other thing.


If I’m being totally candid, up until very recently, the Body Positive Movement had meant little to me beyond a hashtag.

My physique fluctuates between thicc-thin and thicc-thicc—depending on how far into exam season I am.


I’m not sure if it’s because I have a body type that can easily be moulded into an hourglass-figure, regardless of mass. Or whether my parents just really sold me with the whole “most beautiful girl in the world” shtick growing up. But most days I don’t have too much trouble mustering the kind of confidence an only-child is often afforded.


Recently, however, I was invited to model for Wellington underwear label Nisa Women. This presented the challenge of walking the walk when it comes to supporting the fight for more inclusive representation of bodies within media. Retweeting a body diverse editorial is one thing, but could I get my (currently size 16) booty into a set of tummy-exposing separates for a shoot that would be shared in a series of Facebook and Instagram campaigns?


Cheeks, collar bones, and cleavage contoured, with every cosmetic I own stuffed into a duffle bag, I nervously loitered around Willis Street, waiting for someone to let me into the studio.


Sunday Night Club is a shared creative space with sculpted ceilings and gorgeous lighting. Three brand team members, two other models, and a photographer already occupied the space. Coffees were offered. Garment samples were assigned. Before I knew it, I was wearing a pink-and-red high-waisted brief and bra, staring down the barrel of an intimidatingly large camera lens.


The cotton pink fabric of this underwear set was accented with contrasting maroon elastic details. I was presented with a beautiful pink rose and placed in front of a white wall. No studio lights. No textured terrain to melt nervously into. No promises of the power of airbrush. It was just me, a forced positive self-talk looping internally, and a little bit of shimmer powder.


I can’t be certain if it was the caffeine, the security of a flower to cling to, or the affirming words of the production team. But within the hour, I found myself balancing one foot on the windowsill, my weight suspended mid-air. One arm clinging to the window frame, I was racking my brain for every little nugget of advice I ever saw Tyra Banks dish out on ^America’s Next Top Model^. “Smile with your eyes.” “Think long neck!” “Clench and release your hands to make them look natural.” I may have literally been climbing the walls, but I was feeling anything but helpless.


Naturally, behind-the-scenes images of the photoshoot were shared. No more than two hours later, I checked my phone to find 28 private messages on my phone from women I know, expressing their appreciation to see a full-figured underwear model. It wasn’t that I needed the validation for my own confidence—though I would be lying if I said it wasn’t nice. A few hours of teetering at the edge of my comfort zone might actually have value beyond some racy new content for my ‘gram.


This is your aspiring fashion-lover, with dreams of Ashley Graham-style modelling grandeur, signing off before this column digresses into bumper sticker wisdom. But I will leave you with this: I believe the collective effect of actions as small as an exposed midriff, displayed with confidence and intent, might just one day amount to a culture where everyone feels empowered to wear whatever they damn well please.


Wishing you once again: styling serendipity and head-to-toe sass,


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