Image and body confidence continue to dominate conversation for a lot of women. During Hekaya Futures this was one of the poignant topics we discussed with Lorna Muchemi, a TEDX speaker and digital content creator based in Nairobi, Kenya. We explored journeys to body confidence, the slim vs. plus size conversation and the role of brands in creating body positivity.
As women, we will continue to face scrutiny on a myriad of issues and ultimately our image always becomes front and centre of discussion. For example, the media didn't compile endless lists of Barack Obama's most stylish suits, but yet there was an obsession with the First Lady's (Michelle Obama) image. Although we cannot control all the pressures and negativity that we find, as women we can definitely control the dialogue. Only last week was there extensive coverage on Khloe Kardashian seeking to remove a photo which was leaked onto the internet, showing her in a more natural form and not heavily photoshopped which has become the norm. Although one could argue that society has placed large amounts of pressure on women such as the Kardashian's to look a certain way, they are also in a position of influence where they can shift the conversation away from impossibly perfect images of women.
Ultimately, a lot of what we see in the media or magazines when it comes to image is predetermined by society. Although there are significant strides being made to represent all women and use real women with real bodies, more often than not it is in response to something that is in vogue. The 90s was dominated by slim, blonde women, whereas now the curvier woman is seen as more attractive. Fashion and especially lingerie brands were and still are very tailored towards the male gaze. However, with a rising generation of empowered women we can continue to steer conversation away from what we look like, but rather what we have to offer.
"Life is too short. You can't wait for the weight. Otherwise you will spend your whole life trying to perfect an image society has put on you."
At Hekaya we started out by using traditional looking models without considering the message we were projecting. However, as a brand which empowers and celebrates women we have now moved to representing all types of women on the platform and do not re touch the images. We have also made a point of using every day women to model, from lawyers, to content creators and students, which represents our Hekaya community.
However, with this in mind fashion should make women feel confident and strong, but it shouldn't become what defines us. Women in all their shapes, sizes and colours should be celebrated, but it also shouldn't become a tick box exercise. The more we value and encourage women and girls to use their voice, explore their passions and find their drive, the faster we can move away from society's obsession with image. Doing so will not only allow us to look our best, but to also live and feel our best!