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The Importance of the Representation of Scars, Stomas & Body Inclusivity

Hello, my beautiful Pelican lovers,

How are you all? I am currently shielding after getting back from Italy shooting for Pretty Little Thing. I am super excited for you to all see the campaign which is out from 1st July.  This brings me on to what I wanted to discuss with you this month – ‘Representation’  which is key when it comes to brands.

Ditching false representations

It is SO crucial that huge fashion brands start ditching their unrealistic model bodies and start using real bod’s because false representation is taking a huge toll on people’s mental health.  Teenage girls are idolising models that have been so air-brushed and photoshopped that it is beginning to destroy the years that they should be living in the moment and enjoying typical teenage girl stuff.  Women making themselves ill or spending thousands of pounds to get a body that even the models themselves probably don’t have  – their photo has probably under gone  hours of editing, it is just heart breaking.

I want brands to stop using ‘us’ disabled models for one-time campaigns to make themselves look good and tick that inclusive check box off.

Why are we not being used consistently and as ECOM models? We are just as good as somebody without a disability. Take Victoria’s Secret for example, they refused for years to ditch their Angels, who I think we can all agree are stunning – but not realistic. The average women does not look like that, how can we see how that lingerie will fit on our bodies if we have nothing to compare them them?  Victoria’s Secret have recently stated that they are going to use real bodies now, but the question is, what type of real bodies? If it is just going to be bigger body shapes and sizes, then they are still not being inclusive. Where’s the scars? stomas? Wheelchair users, the amputees? I could go on. It’s 2021 and we still have such a long way to go when it comes to representation.

Why is representation needed?

Why change? Because clothes fit differently on all body types and using real bodies will help the buyer see how certain items may fit them. When I first was coming to terms with my new body and finding clothes that did not irritate my scar, I had nobody to look up to on ECOM sites, not one person. I therefore was having to order and send back as it rubbed or didn’t sit right. I know this is not just be me feeling this way. I don’t understand how brands don’t realise representing us means more customers for them and a whole load of respect from a lot of real people.

One of my favourite brands as I have spoken about before is ‘In A Sea Shell’ this amazing bikini brand created by Leigh-Ann Pinnock and Gabrielle Urquhart have used real body shapes and disabilities from the moment they launched. I have had the honour of being their ECOM model and I am so grateful for this. Already, they have done something no other brand has done yet. Women with scars like mine, are able to shop for a bikini and see how it would look on them, but more importantly, is the reminder that they CAN wear a bikini.

After the latest photos were launched somebody posted my photo on REDDITT, and the comments were amazing and so positive.  If this isn’t enough for other brands to want to change, I do not know what is!

I think it is so important we have models like myself with scars and models with stomas in the industry because it really will help educate others. There are young children and teenagers out there having to cope with a stoma or surgery scars, and seeing others who look like them in the modelling industry on clothing sites or big billboards will really help them come to terms with their new bodies and help them realise it is not the end of the world. IBD is such a taboo subject, and we need to work together to break the opinions and negativity that surrounds it.

I am very passionate about breaking this stigma in the modelling industry my promise to you as I write my blog is I will make that change.

Until next month

Natalie-Amber x
@natalie_amber1

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Meet the blogger: Natalie-Amber

Meet Natalie-Amber, a model and local BBC Radio Presenter from Swindon.