The Power of Body Positivity

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Model Rosalind Main on the power of body positivity

Her campaign ‘I Am More Than’ celebrates beauty in all its forms

If you follow Rosalind Main on Instagram you’ll know she’s pretty outspoken about body positivity. Unafraid to call out toxic headlines and body-shaming stories in the media, the Scottish model is campaigning to make sure all races, colours, religions and body shapes are represented within the fashion industry.

“To me, inclusivity and diversity mean a community in which people can be themselves with no fear of discrimination or anxiety,” says the campaigner, who first set up the I Am More Than project in 2017, along with fellow model Morgan Mctiernan.

Their mission is to “break down stereotypes and embrace the uniqueness that everyone holds” – a message that resonates deeply with Rosalind after she was discriminated against during a casting because of her (very healthy) size.

“It started when I was invited down to Manchester to see a modelling agency who said they’d sign me if I lost four inches around my waist – a ridiculous requirement as I’m 5ft 10 and a healthy size 10-12 – so I left the agency upset and disappointed.

“On the train back I plucked up the courage to message Morgan, a model and body positivity activist I met at a casting in 2016. I suggested we direct a photoshoot to celebrate different body types. She was keen to join me and from then on the idea grew and grew until we launched a project that embraced everyone for ‘what they’re more than’.”

As the empowering campaign continues to challenge both the fashion industry and society’s unattainable beauty standards, gal pal speaks to founder Rosalind about body positivity, breaking down barriers and her dreams for the future.

What’s at the heart of the ‘I Am More Than’ message?

“Our ethos is all about being ‘more than’ your first impression – more than your age, size, ethnicity. It’s about being what you can do, rather than what you look like.”

How do you hope the campaign impacts people?

“I want it to make people believe they can do anything if they set their mind to it. We host events and direct photoshoots, and each time we do there’s always such a positive and wonderful atmosphere. It’s so rewarding. We speak on BBC Radio Scotland when the topic of body positivity arises, which we always take very seriously. We also get DMs from people in Scotland and beyond. It’s such a good feeling knowing that our message travels all over the world.”

How has the body positivity movement challenged the modelling industry so far?

“There’s been a large increase in inclusivity in both brand messaging and on the runway. Where there’s crucial news in politics, there’s an artistic response and with that we’ve seen campaigns with powerful statements and imagery. The body positivity movement has resulted in models being celebrated for representing a wider range of people, which is something that will always bring a lot of praise from audiences all over the world.”

What are the issues still facing it?

“How fast certain looks come and go. It’s dangerous when looks are seen as ‘fads’, for example the ‘waif look’ that swept the nation, or the ‘thigh gap’. These so-called ‘trends’ can lead to toxic thoughts and unhealthy impressions of people’s bodies. I believe the fashion industry has come a long way over the past few years, which is great to see, but it needs consistency – messages that don’t just come and go. Seeing clothes on people from all backgrounds, and refreshing people’s perspectives in fashion is crucial.”

What about the brands who champion inclusivity?

“I admire brands that include activists in their campaigns. It’s great because with apps like Instagram those models are at the touch of a button. Young people see their lives and soak up their positive ethos. To see them as the face of a great brand while fighting a good cause is fantastic.”

Brands aren’t airbrushing as much anymore, how has that helped with body positivity?

“I think it’s great that brands are using less Photoshop, leaving natural parts of the human body like moles, stretch marks and dimples out for the world to see, because we’re all human! When I was 13/14 and I saw my body change. I’d compare myself to the airbrushed models online, which was harmful and potentially damaging to my own self image. Now, brands leave models natural. It’s saying to the teen girls ‘yes, models have the things that you have too. You are natural, normal and beautiful’.

Who is getting inclusivity and body positivity right?

“I absolutely love bodywear brand Chromat. It uses diverse models and has an amazing message. In fact, it almost had me in tears when I first came across the brand on Instagram – it celebrates everybody. If you need to follow anyone today, follow Chromat!”

Diversity is super-important, but do you think some brands are guilty of tokenism?

“Diversity is so important in the fashion industry and it’s definitely something I don’t think people will ever tire of seeing. I do think some brands can be guilty of tokenism though, which is sad to see. Diversity isn’t something that should be used as a way to make a profit. It’s easy to spot the brands which are genuine as they’ve been including a wide range of people for a long time and are continuing to do so with everyone’s best interest at heart.”

Who inspires you and why?

“Two of my biggest inspirations are Charli Howard and Ashley Graham – both curve models but also both fantastic people at breaking down boundaries by becoming the faces of brands they admire. They prove that with hard work and persistence, anything is possible!”

What is your proudest ‘I Am More Than’ moment?

“It has to be our fashion event last year in Glasgow. We hosted an art and fashion show at Fitness Frontier and the atmosphere was amazing! Everyone who attended had positive things to say and both Morgan and I were so proud of how the night went.”

What’s the ultimate dream for ‘I Am More Than’?

“To spread our message on a larger scale through shoots and shows all over the country. Also to represent a brand with a message like ours. Our message is something we’re both very passionate about. Another dream would be to speak in schools, educating people about how vital body positivity is in a world like the fashion industry. We’re always working on new ideas to inspire our current followers – and our new ones. We want to thank everyone who inspires us. Dreams are for everyone!”

Links to some of Rosalind’s work can be found below:
BBC – Celebrating Beauty in All Its Forms
BBC iPlayer – Addicted To

Written by Claire Blackmore, @cla_ireb

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