Mayana Muse: Annika Reid on Plus Privilege & Loving Your Postpartum Body
During our journey of exploring body positivity and how that relates to self-love, I had the pleasure of connecting with Annika Reid at our non-profit partner Maternal Goddess conference Rediscover Resilience. As proud mother and fashion enthusiast, Annika runs a plus size fashion house and blog: The Stylish Reid. Annika is also a proud Autism Mom, and is currently developing a non-profit organization, Aniyah’s Haven, to support individuals and families living with developmental exceptionalities.
We have learned many things about the realm of the plus size industry which has led us to question. Is today’s body positive movement a journey of acceptance or tokenism? Annika sat down with us to discuss how every body image movement is subject to unattainable beauty standards, including the plus size / curvy community. Join us for this eye opening interview of body image, motherhood, womanhood and personal growth.
We spoke about plus privilege at the Rediscover Resilience Conference can you tell us a little more about what that means?
Plus size privilege is understanding that even though your body is bigger than what mainstream fashion would usually accept, understanding that you being proportioned or smaller than the average plus size woman allows you into spaces where the average or bigger plus size body is either not welcomed or acknowledged.
What do you want women who are struggling with their body especially in the plus size space to know?
I want to be very honest by saying "The struggle is real!" and that it is normal to struggle, but the message I want to leave is; Please do stay or live in the struggle! Society places all types of negative stereotypes surrounding the Plus Size Body. Messages that we are "Lazy", "Unhealthy" or my least favourite "Undesirable" and yes we are left to have to battle these messages everyday in our lives, but you do have a choice. I hope you choose to LIVE your life and not just exist because you have fat on your body. One of my favourite Bloggers Cece Olisa says "Don't wait on your weight" to do anything. Those are now the words I live by. Please do not use your body as an excuse not to pursue your dreams, and live the life you know you deserve.
How has your body changed since having your daughter impacted how you viewed yourself?
My Body has changed significantly since having Aniyah. I now have a “Fupa” I am significantly heavier. My stomach overall is bigger and most mothers can relate my breast are heavier and now sag after breastfeeding for 6 months. Oh and stretch marks all over my stomach. [Journal Jargon - Beyoncé's Vogue interview has the internet asking, what is a “FUPA”? so let’s break it down - “fat upper pubic area”]
What advice do you have for women who are struggling with body confidence after children?
It is completely normal to struggle with the change in your body after childbirth. Aniyah is 13 and I still tug at parts of my body in shame. The work I continue to do and will encourage others is to work on my mindset to stay in a space of gratitude for my bodies ability. This body was able to give birth, it is a caregiver, it is a comforter and from that space of gratitude continue to challenge it to be it’s best by working out, feeding it good and nutritious food and by dressing it well.
How did you transition into a more positive view when did you move into a plus size model as a career choice?
Aniyah was 2 years old when I stumbled upon a pageant called “Miss Canada Plus” I wanted to pursue it before she was born, I went to a few “go-sees” here in Toronto but nothing manifested from those encounters. My professional modelling career truly began to gain momentum after joining the “Miss Canada Plus” Pageant. That opportunity allowed me to be more visible to local brands and build relationships.
What is the biggest misconception around being plus size?
The biggest misconception surrounding the plus size body is that we are unhealthy, lazy and have no desire to workout or be athletic. Also society seems to think every plus size person hates their body. Whenever I lose weight the compliments come hard and fast as if I hated who I was when I was heavier.
How would you describe your experience of getting fitted and rocking your Mayana Genevière pieces?
When I put on the bodysuit after the initial fitting I felt incredible. The craftsmanship paired with the personalized fitting was a huge confidence boost for me. I shot in the items this past summer and I felt so beautiful in the bralette I wore it as part of an outfit later that evening to another event. I am excited to share more about this brand with my reader on my blog later this month.
Can you tell us about the significance of your head wrap and why you chose to use it for this shoot?
I chose to wear an African print head wrap for this shoot as a way to publicly celebrate my African heritage along side the celebration of my body. This project for me was about self expression, appreciation, acknowledgement and most of all empowerment. As a Black Woman, I feel it is my responsibility to show up unapologetic-ally for my race. I have done many shoots in the past for other brands that have requested me to change my physical appearance to mirror more closely to European standards of beauty, such as wigs or heavy digital editing of my images etc. This was the first project that I had full creative control, so I decided to let my Locs flow and my tribal print head wrap represent. I wanted to use this shoot to celebrate all the facets that define me. My African heritage, my curves, my strength and my lack of apology for who I am.
What is something you would like your pre-mom self to know?
Honestly, I never thought I had it in me to be a mother, let alone "good one". I struggled with so much growing up. I battled depression as early as age thirteen, I struggled academically throughout my school years. I also survived physical and sexual abuse between the ages of 8-12. My overall view of myself was very distorted at a very young age. Being a mother was the last thing I thought I would become, in my mind I was horrible at everything else in life, I dare not consider ruining someone else's life. When I became pregnant at 21, I was terrified. I felt unworthy of this responsibility and I used to seek validation from my then partner to define me. Now looking at Aniyah and how amazing she is I am beyond grateful. She is an extension of me. I would tell my "Pre-Mom" self "Not to worry, despite all they tell you, and all you have been through you have a lot of love in you to give someone, and you will and your children will be okay."
What would you like your daughter to know about body confidence?
I want Aniyah to love herself as she is, I want her to understand that her body is a genetic gift from her ancestors and that it is built for survival and strength. I want her to have a more positive experiences with her body image as opposed to negative ones like I had at her age.
What advice do you have for women who are struggling with their beauty?
My advice would be the same advice that was given to me recently. Don’t be afraid to hit unfollow on social media to anything that makes you question yourself. Join a body positive movement. Do a boudoir shoot.
What are you up to outside of modelling?
I am launching my Boutique called “The Style Space” this month, two days before my birthday. “The Style Space’ is a boutique filled with carefully curated fashion items for the unapologetic consumer. Join me in celebration as we adorn your curves in Stylish Clothing.
What can we expect from you going forward?
You can expect more shopping opportunities with my clothing brand Stylish Apparel, I am re-launching my Blog The Stylish Reid. I am turning it into a community where there will be more voices and writers sharing information filled content surrounding body positivity, Health, Fashion, Style and much more.
What quotes or words of affirmation get you through your day?
"Don't wait on your Weight" - Cece Olisa This quote helps me get out of my head and in the gym, or to the dance troupe I am now apart of. It pushes me to post pictures of myself on social media without being overwhelmed with how others may perceive me. It pushes me to go for it and live right now!
A huge thank you, Annika for sharing her very candid and vulnerable journey with us we are grateful for the insight and hope this will inspire you to live your truth. Hopefully it will also remind us that self-love goes through high’s and lows and personal growth is a never ending and evolving process. You can learn more about Annika here and look out for her post on self-love in her garments coming soon. Did this article resonate with you? Let us know! Please leave us your thoughts below we love reading your feedback
Nadine Woods Founder, Mayana Muse Annika Reid and the MG Family
Credit for Annika’s Shoot: Creative Direction - Annika Reid; Undergarments: Mayana Genevière Nayana Body Suit, Mercedes High Waisted Brief and Nikki Longline Bralette; Photography: Crave boudoir; Make-up: Mz. FabArtistry; Head Wrap: London Ivy Products.