We’ve all seen the “Love Your Body” campaigns that use 5 women (*cough* super models) of the same size, shape and shade to convince women that “all bodies are beautiful.” For those who don’t know, I worked in the fashion industry for two years – having been on the production and PR teams for two Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows (2012 & 2013). For weeks prior to the shows I’d be surrounded by glitz & glam. And on show night, half-naked women (who were arguably the most beautiful women in the world according to the VS scale) would prance around backstage getting ready to confidently walk down the runway for millions of people to view on TV (the next month). Because I was raised with confidence and a mother who told me I was beautiful every moment she had the opportunity (and because I had already dealt with my fair share of body confidence issues by this point in my life), my self-esteem wasn’t really affected being around all that “beauty”. I had finally figured out how to be comfortable with who I was and no one was going to change that on my behalf. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for others around me.
It wasn’t until the few days leading up to the fashion show’s premier, that I’d recognized the problem with the fashion industry and productions like The VS Fashion Show and these campaigns encouraging women to embrace their bodies but showing bodies that didn’t look anything like theirs. The night of the show I’d see my friends posting statuses like, “Tonight me and my rolls get to eat Ben & Jerry’s while sobbing at the TV!” and, “Can’t wait to be reminded of how no matter what I do I will never look like the angels.” and it would make me sad. I was sad to see so many women preparing themselves to criticize themselves and their bodies, and crack jokes about how they look during an hour TV special. It was sad to see them get depressed about their appearances and who they were over something that was supposed to “celebrate women.” Of course, I now see the problem with companies who only use the picture perfect models (like in the “Love Your Body” campaigns) with small noses, big boobs, “just the right amount” of curves, “just the right shade” of skin, etc. It’s unrealistic. And it’s damaging. You can’t celebrate women, while only showcasing one type of woman as beautiful.
You can’t celebrate women, while only showcasing one type of woman as beautiful.
All of our readers know that body positivity is our jam at MissMuslim. From the countless #BodyPositive pieces we’ve shared, to our entire month of May being “Body Positivity Month“ that was dedicated to stories that express the beauty within all of us – confidence and strength are big deal to our team. That’s why, when I met the Scaffidi sisters thanks to my musical inclined brother, and learned about the incredible event they were working on, I knew they’d fit right in to the #MMfamily. This past summer, Lexi and Alyse (and their kick ass mom) produced one of the coolest fashion shows I have ever seen (don’t miss the video below!), which of course, got even cooler when my brother supplied the performance on the runway. I had the chance to sit down with Alyse and learn more about her and her sister’s journey to helping women everywhere learn to love their bodies.
MM: You put together a fashion show! What made you want to do something like this, what was your inspiration?
Scaffidi Sisters: We actually came up with the idea during last year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, as we were sitting there mesmerized by the spectacular fashion designs. We wanted to be angels ourselves, but we knew that wouldn’t be possible since we don’t fit society’s mold of beauty. This was when we knew we needed to do something. Recreating the VS Fashion Show was our chance to make 21 girls’ dream of being a runway angel come true, and in the process, we hope to inspire “body confidence” among other women.
It’s time women realize they are capable of achieving anything in life, regardless of their size, shape, race, disabilities or setbacks. We need to stop promoting one size and shape as the only type of beautiful, if not for us than for all of the young girls out there struggling to find their confidence and accept their bodies.
These are events that people work on for years – how long did it take you guys to put this all together?
My sister and I both have full time jobs, so planning became an every evening and every weekend project for about 8 months worth of time. We faced a lot of obstacles to make this dream a reality, but it just proves you can do anything if you never give up. If you are passionate enough about something, you always find a way to bring it to life.
To hold a successful fashion show, there are so many things to account for – the models, the stage design, the venue, lighting, sound, performers, food, photographers, makeup artists, audience members, not to mention this was the first time we planned something of this caliber.
But regardless of our efforts, the show would not have happened without the help of all those involved – the makeup artists, dancers, crew – most of them donated their time and talents to make this happen. As you know, the VS Fashion Show costs millions of dollars that we simply didn’t have since it was funded by our personal savings. This was our dream, but it was accomplished with the help of so many people. We are forever grateful to all of those individuals.
How did you get in touch with the models that walked in the show?
It was really a random mix of family and friends, as well as complete strangers we met for the first time that day. The majority of the models were found via social media. All we did was ask the girls via direct message if they’d like to be a part of something that could positively affect the mindset of young women and most were ready to jump right in! It’s amazing how social media and a common passion can bring together total strangers to create something so impactful.
What was the overall vibe backstage and on the runway?
There was so much positive energy coming from all of the models, and not an ounce of self-doubt or body shaming. Not to mention, all of the girls were so much more than their looks. Each one came with an inspiring story of how they overcame bullying, illness, disorders or lack of self-acceptance.
For example, one of the girls, Tessa, had to undergo an above the knee amputation while fighting cancer as a child. Then there’s also, Asha, who started her own lingerie line for women to feel beautiful. As well as Sophie, who doesn’t let her wheelchair stop her from loving life. We hope that seeing these strong women accomplish their dreams will inspire others to feel more confident about their differences.
How did all of the models feel struttin’ their stuff for the world to see? Was it empowering? Nerve-racking? Exciting?
Imagine the happiness and excitement you feel as a five-year-old on Christmas Eve. Now times that by a thousand, and you still wouldn’t even be close! When we say the show was pure joy, we aren’t exaggerating. For all of the girls involved, it was a day out of a storybook, truly a day when dreams came true. Standing on that stage, walking down the runway was one of the most empowering and satisfying experiences of our lives. Now, we just hope we can inspire others to keep chasing their dreams and to work on breaking society’s “beauty” molds as well.
What’s the one take away that you feel is most important for young girls who see this video to remember?
We want society to stop promoting a one-size-fits-all image of beauty, and instead start celebrating the unique qualities that make women of all shapes, sizes and color beautiful.
Young girls need to stop seeing the same, stereotypical shape in magazines, movies, and on social media. They need to stop being shown that only one body type can be beautiful, successful and happy.
We can’t just say things like, “No matter what your body shape, size or skin color, every person deserves to feel beautiful.” We need to start giving girls examples of how EVERY BODY is beautiful.
This video teaches young women that they don’t have to look a certain, unrealistic way to feel beautiful. Beauty is about being confident and proud of who you are as a person.
We hope this video will start conversations among girls about positive body image, self-acceptance and how to embrace your own individuality.
What are your thoughts on the fashion industry, do you think it’s time for a change?
It’s time the fashion industry adjusts with the times, and starts becoming more inclusive and realistic. It’s time to show young women you don’t need to conform to a stereotypical look to be beautiful. Unfortunately, many designers are forced to make small sample sizes, which require size zero models, due to the high cost of fabrics and materials. This is part of the reason we’d like to start a non-profit that not only recreates a “body confidence” fashion show each year, but that donates a portion of its profits to young designers who’d like to create fashion for all of the beautiful bodies our world has to offer.
Do you think you’ll pull off another one of these next year or sometime in the future?
WE SURE HOPE SO! Ideally, we’d love to start a non-profit that would allow young women all over the world to interview to be a model in our fashion show that would be held once a year in different locations. However, our show would not be based on looks, but rather who you are as a person. It would be based on what challenges you’ve overcome, your creativity, your story and your uniqueness.
We want to help change young women’s opinions of what’s considered beautiful. We want to help girls around the world change the way they feel about themselves and their appearance,and make sure it’s a positive feeling. In doing so, we want to help them embrace beauty in their uniqueness and differences, which will inspire them to chase after their dreams – regardless of society’s opinions.
I think Ms. Canada said it best when she stated, “This needs to be the generation that finally accepts that everyone is beautiful in their own unique ways. It’s time to start working together to redefine the global vision of beauty.”
You and your sister are avid fitness entrepreneurs – how do you think fitness and body image are related?
We started BiteSized Fitness over 5 years ago, as a way to help promote body confidence through a healthy lifestyle. The term “body confidence” sometimes gets a bad rap. It’s not about celebrating obesity or anorexia, it’s about breaking away from a stereotypical look of what is beautiful and celebrating who you are as a person. Poor body image is something that causes a lot of women to struggle with eating disorders and an inability to create a balanced lifestyle, all because we keep promoting a one-size-fits-all look for beauty. Healthy should never be a number on the scale or the size of someone’s waist, healthy is a state of life in which you feel physically, mentally and emotionally strong.
How can people get in touch with you and Lexi about training and fitness advice?
Follow us on Instagram @BiteSizedFitness and @BiteSizedSis for daily motivation!
You can also download our FREE fitness app with over a year’s worth of gym workouts! It’s already helped thousands of women develop a more confident body and we know it can help thousands more! It can be downloaded off of iTunes/Android under the name “BiteSizedChallenge.”
How can people help support the “Love Your Body” movement?
We have already created an iconic “different” tank top in which 50% of the profits will be donated to the National Organization for Women (NOW) Foundation’s “Love Your Body” campaign. You can purchase one – HERE – to help support the cause!
To be a part of our “Love Your Body” campaign virtually, be sure to use the Hashtags below when posting!
#perfectlyme #loveyourbody #confidentlybeautiful #bitesizedfitness #bedifferent #loveyourbody #loveyourbodyday #bodyconfidence
Check out the “Love Your Body” Fashion Show, below! And be sure to scroll through our gallery to get a glimpse at all of the beautiful models killin’ it on the runway.