The lovely people at Collectively reached out to me and asked me to be a part of their awesome #FashionTakeBack campaign through a takeover of their Instagram account. I was so pleased to be asked to be involved, as what these guys are trying to accomplish is applause worthy.
“Our generation wants to own and create, not conform to the fashion industry.”
“We’re seeing independent labels rejecting excessive Photoshopping and documentaries covering real sized models.”
“Fashionable now means DIY, real bodies, voting with your wallet and clothes swapping, instead of luxury ‘status’ and impossible body shapes.”
Hey guys, @iamleyahshanks here! 🙋 A few years ago I created a blog called The Body Confidence Revolution. Its aim was to provide a direct contrast and counter balance to the often heartless media and fashion industries by displaying real life human body diversity in all of its glory. It's designed to be a place full to the brim with positivity and bare of ANY kind of shame. Since its birth around 3 years ago, my work with #TBCR has been featured in Cosmopolitan UK, I've become a magazine's columnist, an ambassador for a mental health movement for young people, a writer for PLUS Model Magazine and a blogger for Huffington Post UK. I use my voice to spread positivity but also to try and make sure that no one else feels the way I did growing up through education and empowerment. Over the next week for @_collectively's #FashionTakeBack I'm gonna talk about positive change happening in the mainstream media and fashion industries, what still needs to change and personal anecdotes that I hope will enable you to feel confident and beautiful in your current self, giving a middle finger to prehistoric beauty standards laid out to us by those at the top of such powerful industries. We can reclaim fashion for ourselves and what it means to feel comfortable in our own skin before we even get dressed. The Body Confidence Revolution and I are here to show you that fashion truly is for everyone, regardless of age, dress size, ethnicity, body type, gender or capability. #FashionTakeBack #loveyourselfie #bodyimage
For FAR too long, the mainstream media and fashion industries have dictated what beauty is (and what it is not). This ideal is based purely on fantasy. On making people compare themselves to the imagery and feel compelled to purchase their offering in a desperate attempt to feel as worthy as the glossy photos crammed into every square centimetre of their brain. People are now starting to wake up. We're becoming less asleep to the blatant nonsense we and our children are being fed. We are becoming less tolerant of being made to feel bad about ourselves. And we want things to change. Faster than they currently are. There is substantial improvement going on. Catwalks and campaigns are more diverse than ever before. Men's Health Magazine currently has an amputee on its cover. The changes that are happening are amazing, there's no doubting that. But until we can say that all brands etc. are promoting real human body diversity because they truly want to and are not lured by the promise of a PR sensation, we cannot stop. I personally no longer feel bound by the ancient beauty standards thrown on top of womankind. And I don't want others to take as long as I did to really appreciate their body. I am reclaiming the definition of beauty for myself. #effyourbeautystandards #FashionTakeBack
The aim behind my creating The Body Confidence Revolution three years ago was to arm the next generation and those who have been kept down throughout their lives with the knowledge that the mainstream media and fashion industries DO NOT portray real life beauty and how they go about suppressing us. I wanted it to directly combat the bombardment of relentless, sensationalist imagery chucked at us and provide a place of solace for anyone needing to remind themselves of how innately beautiful they are and escape the evil clutches of self doubt. #TBCR is designed to be a space which demonstrates clearly how deliciously diverse human bodies and gorgeousness are – soaking up the beauty in real life diversity and saying "b*tch, please ✋" to ancient, claustrophobic beauty standards. I want to feature YOUR gorgeous, unique, real body on The Body Confidence Revolution. If you would like to be a part of bodyconfidencerevolution.tumblr.com (clickable link in bio) post a photo on Instagram using the hashtag #TBCR and tag me, stating why you love your amazing body! #fashiontakeback
@iamleyahshanks here! 🙋 When a power house of a model and body activist and New York Fashion Week come together, the result is truly mesmerising. @theashleygraham is someone I have followed and admired for a long time. She uses her voice and talents to do good for the world by inspiring women (and humanity in general!) to love their body regardless of the number on its clothing labels. This #NYFW, Ashley ROCKED the runway modelling her own lingerie collection for @additionelle with positive shockwaves being felt across the globe. Her confidence is contagious and her spirit is uncrushable. It's a pleasure to be alive watching inspiring women like her change the game and quash beauty stereotypes. New York Fashion Week is leaps and bounds ahead of others (#LFW I'm looking at you) with its deliciously diverse range of models who tear up its runways in different ethnicities, shapes and capabilities. It's wholly refreshing to see such an influential part of such an influential industry beginning to grow and make a start at reflecting the vast individuality of humankind. We can only hope that other fashion weeks (and the fashion industry as a whole) take notice and follow suit and that this continues to expand and develop for years to come. Diversity is more than just a trend, but it's certainly one I can get on board with. #FashionTakeBack #AshleyGraham
We are becoming less and less OK with being labelled and put into confining boxes which automatically tell us what kind of fashion we "can" and "cannot" wear. @stefania_model is leading the revolt against the term "plus size" through @droptheplus. Stefania is another kick ass lady who is owning the body positivity movement with her open and honest attitude towards her own body. She tells her forever growing following to be their own kind of beautiful and has helped to obliterate gender stereotypes of female beauty by shaving her head. She also publicly supported me and donated to my cause when I did the same thing earlier this year. This babe and I share the belief that fashion is for all and should consist of no segregating labels. I fully support her @droptheplus movement and admire this woman no end. It's like a big glass of ice cold water on a hot day to see such a successful and influential figure in the fashion world making such a positive impact. – @iamleyahshanks #FashionTakeBack #StefaniaFerrario #DropThePlus
Hey guys, @iamleyahshanks here again! 🙋 I'll be with you until Tuesday for #FashionTakeBack. I interviewed @neonmoonco's unbelievably kick ass CEO Hayat back in March about her kickstarter campaign. Since then, her brain child smashed its fundraising goal and has received much praise and publicity – and rightly so! Hayat is directly challenging the mainstream lingerie industry – known for its crushingly narrow portrayal of beauty standards, the objectification and sexualisation of women – by not only promoting intersectional feminism but helping to eradicate the stigma surrounding the very word "feminism", making it less of a dirty word. Her brand stands for empowerment, positivity and is unapologetically body positive. One of my favourite things about Neon Moon is its use of women of different body shapes and sizes and ethnicities, NONE of whom are Photoshopped in ANY WAY. I absolutely adore following the work of this amazing lady and I sincerely hope that other lingerie brands take heed and realise how important it is to showcase diversity and subsequently stop shaming womankind. – @iamleyahshanks #FashionTakeBack
I admire @tessholliday so much. Her creation of the @effyourbeautystandards movement has helped countless people across the world to fall in love with themselves, whatever their current state is. On a personal level, I get such a kick out of watching her redefine fashion – making it a much more equal playing field, as it should have already been for many years. Here's hoping that #effyourbeautystandards continues to show the fashion industry that style is NOT size specific! – @iamleyahshanks #FashionTakeBack
I have so much respect for @amberrose for publicly making a stand about "slut shaming". A woman should be free to dress however SHE pleases and should NOT be ridiculed, sexualised and/or subjected to sexual harassment should she decide to have some skin on show. YOUR body, YOUR style, YOUR choice! -@iamleyahshanks #FashionTakeBack #SlutWalkLA #AmberRosesSlutWalk #AmberRose
@iamleyahshanks here for the last time! I am SO privileged to have been even a very minute part of Collectively's #FashionTakeBack campaign. It's so refreshing to see such a powerful group of people use their status to attempt to make positive change, in a totally selfless way. As I've tried to highlight over the last week, there is massive change happening in the fashion industry right now. Customers are no longer OK with being under represented and subliminally made to feel worthless. Public figures like @stefania_model and @tessholliday are showing the world that size is IRRELEVANT when it comes to style. Organisations like @healthyisthenewskinny are proving that wellbeing is paramount over trying to emulate a heavily Photoshopped advert. #NYFW was arguably its most diverse yet this September with @madelinesmodeling_ and @theashleygraham (among many others!) gracing the runway. Things ARE progressing. We're headed in the right direction. BUT we're not getting there fast enough. Everything is definitely not peachy. The second biggest reason that children and young people in the UK called ChildLine last year, was due to self esteem issues. We still have so much to overcome. But we CAN do it. Your voice is so powerful. Let's continue to put pressure on this industry to change its prehistoric ways and reclaim fashion for ourselves!