FARGO — It's summer, and it's hot — is there anything better than diving headfirst into the cool water of a lake or lounging in the swimming pool? Absolutely not.
But what if people see the lumps and bumps and few extra pounds that a bathing suit doesn't hide? Just grab a cover-up and don't you dare get in the water — or at least that's the common message from society.
One local business and entrepreneur is trying to change that "I need a cover-up" mindset, and a new locally produced video with the provocative title "Get in Your F***ing Swimsuit" shows the body positivity movement is here — and it's not going anywhere anytime soon.
The modern body positivity movement didn't begin with soap, although that's what many would believe after seeing the famous Dove "Real Beauty" campaign featuring a diverse group of women of all shapes and sizes in their underwear or the forensic artist teaching women about how beautiful they are in others' eyes.
Surprisingly enough, what is considered the first wave of the body positivity movement actually began in the late 1960s, with people calling for acceptance and non-discrimination based on size. However, with the rise of social media in the 2000s, there has been a heightened awareness of the movement.
Celebrities like Lena Dunham, Kristen Bell and Chrissy Teigen use their social media to show the real, unfiltered versions of themselves for millions of their followers, while superstar singer P!nk remains critical of anyone who tries to shame her for what she looks like in order to create a positive image for her daughter and fans.
Women all over the world are learning to embrace what it means to be themselves and show off the most unfiltered, raw, real version of what it takes to be a woman.
"Women want to connect with other women," says Mary Burd, entrepreneur and owner of local boutique Voxxy, which has stores in Fargo and Grand Forks catering to women sizes 16-22. "They don't want to connect with this filtered version of other women — they want to connect with the raw, vulnerable, real sides of other women. I see that in women all the time, this need to connect, this need to see these issues. A lot of people do this, but they do it in such a filtered way."
Burd says Instagram "models" and beauty bloggers and vloggers try to empower women through their social media, posing in a two-piece swimsuit with encouraging words, but it's not real.
"I think one, you're not brave for being yourself and being in your body, you're just human, and two, I think they've filtered the crap out of themselves and they're doing a sponsored ad in a certain swimsuit," she says. "Which is totally fine! But it's not raw. There's nothing real about that. And besides, most of us don't have the time, money or want to go get nipped and tucked and filled in every single place or go on an app and filter every part of our body to make things look a certain way."
For many women, summer means "swimsuit body season" — a season that can bring about intense feelings of dread and low self-esteem.
"I just had all of these friends who were like, 'I'll go to the pool next summer when I lose this baby weight,' or 'I'm not thin enough,' or 'I'm not tan enough,'" Burd says. "It's like, 'Oh my God. Don't you just want to go down a waterslide? Don't you just want to jump in a pool or sit at the beach with your friends and drink some Coronas and enjoy your day?'"
Burd has received extremely positive feedback for the recent video, posted on Voxxy's Facebook page on July 7, with women reaching out to her through her private Facebook page to share their stories and how the video affected them.
"It's not about me; it's never been about me," Burd says. "It's about giving all these intelligent, caring, beautiful, strong women a place to connect with each other — whether that's in the comments, or whether it's to the women in the video or to themselves again."
Positivity can spread like wildfire if you're not careful, she says.
For Alex Kizima, seeing "plus-sized" women in the media, like actress Melissa McCarthy, has proven to have a lasting effect.
"I think self-esteem plays a big role in your everyday life," she says. "Even going into your job or to meet up with friends, you need confidence and some sort of self-esteem. If you don't, you tear yourself down. Putting people in the spotlight so others can resonate is huge. Especially now, you have people who are plus-sized in the media, and just seeing people of all body types in all roles can inspire people."
As Burd points out, it's all about connecting.
"(When we made the video) I was in my swimsuit all day that day," Burd says. "My hair was a mess, my makeup was off my face by the end, but I didn't care. I was with my friends and we were having an absolute blast. I think people see that and think, 'I can have that, too. I can be joyful and enjoy myself.'"
She adds that "life is too short" to do anything other than get out there and enjoy it.
"Find your worth in your experiences and moments you have in life. Your worth is never going to change — hold on to it, love yourself and get in your swimsuit and enjoy the water, enjoy the sun and be part of summer. Stop hiding."