We recently attended Dove’s 60th birthday in New York, United States. One of the highlights of the trip was meeting four amazing women who shared their powerful life journey stories with Destiny.
Ibtihaj Muhammad, an Olympic fencer representing team US, is the first African-American Muslim woman to wear a hijab while competing for the USA in the Olympics. She grew up in a home where sports were an integral part of their family dynamic. While playing other sports, Muhammad felt out of place when she had to participate in team sports. This was due to her parent’s having to alter all her sports uniforms in order to observe the Hijab when participating in sports.
“My love for fencing came from being able to put on my mask and not be seen for being black, not be seen for being a woman, not be seen as being Muslim, but be solely seen for my athletic ability,” she says.
Rebekah Marine is a motivational speaker, model, who is mostly known as the bionic model.
Despite being told that she would never find success in the modelling industry, Marine beat the odds when she became the first differently-abled person to walk New York Fashion Week (NYFW) in 2015.
Growing up, Marine says she always wanted to fit in, but not having an arm prevented her from doing that. But it was the realisation that nothing was perfect in life, that made her decide to embrace who she is.
“Sometimes we spend so much time trying to cover up our imperfections, we lose ourselves. In a world that’s magnified by beauty, wealth, power and perfection, it can be difficult to accept the things that we cannot change,” explains Rebekah.
Walking on NYFW was not only a milestone for Marine, but it also helped to break barriers on people who are differently-abled.
Jessica Torres, a plus size style blogger who started her journey to self-love when she got to college after a long time of feeling inadequate due to her size.
When she noticed her big and fabulous peers were embracing their curves and encouraging her to do the same, Torres realised that it was important to not allow others to dictate what beauty is.
“You decide when you’re beautiful, you don’t let other people tell you ‘hey you’re beautiful’… because usually, we put our value in other people’s hands when it’s actually ours,” she says.
This self-discovery motivated her to start a blog, which encourages plus size women to embrace their bodies. The blog has inspired other women around the world to embrace their figures and feel empowered with the way they look.
The last fascinating talk was by Caryn Franklin (66). Franklin is currently a professor of diversity in fashion, she has previously worked as a fashion editor of -i-D Magazine in the 80s. Franklin has pioneered a movement on breaking stereotypes on how the media portrays older women and the skewed message it’s sending out to younger women about ageing in fashion and beauty.
Franklin believes that style never retires, and stresses the importance for women of her generation, to be aware of the fear and anxiety driven dialogue through mass media imagery shown around them about “losing their youth. She wants women of her age to focus on the wonderful gain of maturity through experience gained in the path to growing older. Caryn adds that “If there was a better dialogue about what it really is to get older and are able to enact this into our fashion and beauty imagery- we might just address, in a somewhat disruptive way this dialogue, which is really unhelpful”.
Check out the May issue of Destiny to find out more about Dove’s #RealBeauty pledge.