Four triangles of fabric: the power of underwear

While the fashion industry is one of the instigators of body image issues in women, the same tool can be used for revolt.

“Nothing strips you down like being semi-naked,” said Kamogelo Magabane, the founder of Celebration of Life and all things good.

For the past three years, on every month of August, Kamo organised the Redefining Beauty photoshoot for women to strip down and be vulnerable. Her annual campaign is about self-love and self-reflection.

This year on Women’s Day different women walked into the OverExposed photography studio on their allocated time slots and anticipated the programme to follow. For some were it was their first experience and others returned from previous years – but they all had one thing in common, they were all going to strip down to their underwear.

The purpose is to launch “an initiative to reflect, to challenge the beauty standards that exist out there,” said Kamo. “To have a reflective conversation with yourself about the body that you’re in and start the journey of loving it.”

For the organiser this was the main objective. “The shoot has to be confrontational.”

She said, “When people see you they don’t see your beautiful heart, up until you speak, they don’t see your beautiful mind. They see your body and they start to judge you on that.”

It’s not secret that the fashion industry and the media have been designed to work together against women. Both these industries represent womanhood in a suffocating little box that no one ever fits perfectly into.

Having been in the spotlight with her underwear before Kamo echoes this point: “The message that is out there is not the true reflection of society. An average South African, or an average black woman for that matter, is not one particular size.”

This is exactly what makes this August campaign important.

“The biggest thing for us to challenge existing standards. No one must ever tell us what beauty is, what’s beautiful. Each and every individual, each and every female must decide what is beautiful and it must be acceptable in society. So this campaign really is to drive that, to say love your body,” said Kamo.

“We have to be our own ambassadors, our own cheer leaders, our own fans and say I love me – because there are great benefits in loving yourself.

“Life is a bit different for people who are confident.”

Watch the women who slayed the dragon and embraced themselves at the photoshoot:

Picture: OverExposed Photography

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