Ok, we get it. “Body positivity” is the latest trend in swimwear. But you can’t just slap the words “body positive” without actually meaning it.
Everyone seems to be doing it these days, from Aerie to ASOS. Brands are refusing to airbrush out imperfections and are using a variety of body shapes and sizes to sell swimwear. But some brands are trying to take advantage of the trend and we’re just not buying it.
The latest brand to pull this stunt is Rheya Swim, a young brand started by 21-year-old Chloe Madison. The swimwear line is already getting tons of press coverage for “no retouch photos,” aka photos that show stretch marks on their models. Websites like Elle, Vogue, and Refinery29 are hailing the brand for being body positive without making a big deal out of it.
The problem? Or should we say problems, is that they are making a big deal out of it. Madison has gone on interview after interview touting how she wants to celebrate body love with her brand. She recently told Teen Vogue,
“I’m a big advocate in loving yourself. You should never feel like you need to alter your body to be beautiful. As a swimsuit brand, I think self-love is a huge factor, and Rheya’s foundation was built on that. I had a lot of moments growing up where I compared myself to the prettiest girl in school, my body to the one on the magazine cover. It felt like a never-ending black hole of negativity of never being enough. I felt that way in a school uniform and I definitely felt that way in a swimsuit. As I grew up I learned to embrace myself. A bikini should make you feel the opposite. You should feel confident, stunning, and most importantly, like yourself.”
She even said she’s been getting notes from girls “thanking her for leaving stretch marks in the photos.”
That’s all well and good, and we appreciate visible stretch marks as much as the next person, but to say that she and her brand is all about ‘self-love” is complete bullshit. And to market yourself as such is just dishonest.
One look at Rheya Swim’s Instagram and you’ll understand why we’re so upset. Not only are all the models cis white girls in straight sizes, but they all look like freakin’ Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models. What the fuck. Don’t show me a bunch of skinny white girls and tell me “you’re all about self-love.” She even told Seventeen,
“[Shoppers] see super photoshopped girls and think that’s something they need to be and I didn’t really want to celebrate that anymore. I would rather purchase something I could relate to and I could see myself in as opposed to someone that doesn’t even look like a real person.”
You want to celebrate “real people” and “real bodies?” Great, we would like that! But don’t just leave a few stretch marks and pat yourself on the back.
In the words of OITNB‘s Taystee, “that’s some bullshit, shit to the bull.”
In 2017, a lack of photo editing just isn’t enough anymore. It’s time we demand more from our fashion brands. Who’s with us?
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel and when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her obsessing over her tuxedo cat Tom or hoarding drugstore lipsticks.